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ICEF master’s student shares his experience of doing a double degree at LUISS

In 2017, opportunities appeared for ICEF Financial Economics students to do double degree at Rome-based LUISS University and to earn Master’s Degree in Economics and Finance from a top European school. ICEF students Vladimir Badlo and Arseny Yunnikov have chosen to do so and are currently studying in Rome. We asked them to share their first impressions.

Were there any difficulties you experienced in Rome when you started your studies there?

I can’t say adaptation was challenging for me. I happened to start my studies later than I was due to start them, so I missed the important orienteering events. The LUISS Student Office, however, agreed to do them specially for me and Arseny and put us in the way of things. They filled us in on the organizational side and gave us information brochures which we found useful. And we always stayed in touch, so adaptation went almost smoothly.

How does the knowledge you received in your first year of ICEF master’s program help you adjust to a new academic environment?

Since the knowledge ICEF delivers in Economics and Finance is fundamental, those who complete their first year at ICEF successfully will find it easy to move to the second year here at LUISS. And because LUISS is a private, not state-run school, its courses are very hands-on. Many of our lecturers are practicing financiers or have track records in other industries, for which reason most of the material they deliver is practice-oriented, with very little amount of theoretical digressions.

Can you describe your typical day at LUISS? How does it differ from your schedule at ICEF?

Here, classes do not have fixed time. I study 4 days a week and have 1 to 3 double classes per day with 1 to 6 hour breaks in between. The time classes start depends on the course and can be 8:30 am or 6:00 pm. Even though the total amount of classes per week is not that great, cramming them into a 2- or 3-day week may not be possible, as many students opt to follow individual learning paths. Since there are no fixed student groups, courses and classes have different students.

Who do you think will find this double degree program a good fit?

A double degree program will definitely fit those who are interested in cross-border experience. LUISS’ enrolment spans 180 countries. Its 200 exchange programs are annually participated by some 500 students, so it offers a great opportunity to gain new contacts, learn cultures, and adopt international practices.

LUISS-hosted courses will benefit mostly those who already have the vision of their career paths and would like to try themselves in international financing – IB, banking, PE/VC, hedge funds, among others – or consulting, or sector-specific services.

No less beneficial will LUISS be also to those who would like to pursue science and do a PhD course. Although I wouldn’t recommend it to those who expect solid theoretical framework. I think ICEF has more to offer in this regard. The solid theoretical background available from ICEF is what LUISS delivers only as part of its PhD programs.

Which LUISS-hosted courses do you see as most interesting and benefitting you personally?

All of them, actually, are interesting. I opted for them and put them on my individual study plan.

The elective course I find very interesting is Equity Markets and Alternative Investments. It is hosted by two different lecturers, one of whom is Marco Morelli, CEO at Banca Monte dei Paschi, the world’s oldest and Italy’s 5th biggest bank in terms of total assets (EUR 143,59 bln). The focus of his part of the course is core financial instruments used by securities markets such as IPO, Right Issue, Convertible Bonds Issue, etc. Marco Morelli shares his every other lecture with invited speakers – his colleagues and acquaintances many of whom are top executive with hands-on knowledge of the recent cases in the industry. The other lecturer gives us knowledge of the alternative investment strategies used by different hedge funds, which in itself is beneficial to those who see themselves in investment services.

Interesting are also Asset Management and Empirical Finance, the courses designed to give the ins and outs of portfolio management.

What would be the student services you are using most at LUISS (career guidance, soft skills)?

I’ll put it this way, LUISS is one big student service. No student will fail to find an interest group or occupation to their liking here.

If you do sports, LUISS has sport clubs as diverse as football, tennis, horse polo, golf.

IT students are free to join LOFT with courses in Cyber Security, IOT, Programming skills, Video Making, Design, Google AdWords, among others. Cyber Security and IOT are organized by Cisco and issue you with certificates once you complete them.

Those who intend to pursue academic careers will like LUISS Library which boasts extensive literature and access to almost all of the world’s largest online libraries.

Career guidance events are offered by LUISS Career Center. Quite recently, it hosted Bain, Morgan Stanley and Google. Many of its guest speakers represent Italian companies. There are many career clubs at LUISS – Case Club, IB Club, to name a few. All of them are designed to help you get into the industry.

And last but not least there is ESN LUISS, an organization that offers international students cultural events on almost a weekly basis. They are a great chance for guys from all over the world to meet and have fun together. We’ve recently been to Tuscany and this week we are going to Venice.

Also, LUISS offers vehicle sharing services and operates its own radio.

How do you spend your free time in Rome?

Rome is a place you don’t want to observe from your window. When I first came here, I walked a lot to explore the sights. With beautiful weather and lots of interesting things to see at every corner, walking the streets is pure delight.

I devote a lot of my out-of-class time to career orienteering and LOFT courses. IT has always been my passion and LOFT has opened up totally new career perspectives for me. The IOT course, for instance, gives us skills in prototyping simplest IOT devices, microcircuit programming, and IOT applications for economics, while the Cyber Security course introduces me to how cyber security and data protection work.

Also, with flexible study plan I am free to engage in projects of my own. The city and the university actually offer everything it takes to reach your potential.

Rome is a city of visionaries. Life here is cozy and comfortable (especially in terms of weather). The people are friendly, no hustle and bustle, no traffic jams, and you have a feeling no one runs or rushes here. They enjoy themselves instead.

Vladimir Badlo

ICEF 2-year master’s student