Nice – a nice change from Brisbane

Thomas M., Master of Business (Applied Finance)
EDHEC Business School, France (Semester 2, 2016 & Semester 1, 2017)

Over nine months, I spent two semesters in France at the EDHEC Business School campus in Nice from September 2016 to May 2017, completing the dual master programme in applied finance/corporate finance and banking. During this time, I lived in central Nice and studied at the EDHEC campus about 5km out of the city centre. The classes, assessment, academic organisation, cohort and campus at EDHEC were all quite different to my studies in Brisbane at QUT, with both advantages and disadvantages.

Firstly, at many French colleges, class attendance is mandatory and unjustified absences can result in academic penalties. However, the system of marking attendance is somewhat inefficient as it relied upon a sheet of paper circulated throughout the students and as a result, incorrect and unchangeable class absences are a somewhat regular occurrence. The campus itself is quite nice and modern but is much smaller than that of QUT Gardens Point or Kelvin Grove, lacking sports fields, bars or study rooms and having only a single canteen. The library is also quite small and finding a desk can be very competitive so many students tend to study inside vacant classrooms or at home.

Outside of the administrative aspects, the content and assessment of classes was overall more challenging than that at QUT and very case study-based. This was useful in gaining more knowledge in applicability of theoretical concepts to actual business cases. The school has quite a strong focus on case studies and recruits many lecturers from corporate positions for short stints of teaching, including from accounting and law firms, investment and corporate banks and consultancies. I found this a great way of teaching because it helped me to gain insight into the work-life practices of people within these careers and see what their roles really entailed, and it offered good opportunities for networking.

Living in Nice was obviously quite a large change from Brisbane in several ways. Firstly, it is much smaller in size and population than Brisbane making it quite easy to get around town without a car. While the general culture is also different, I found it generally pleasant and a fun place to live and didn’t experience much of a “culture shock”. The cohort of international students often has similar backgrounds and interests and there are often student-led functions and events, so socialising with other exchange students is easy and fun. While I tried to improve my French, nearly everyone understands English so getting around and meeting people is often easy. The city of Nice itself is also a great holiday destination and really fun to live in as there are numerous restaurants, bars and public gardens to explore, and the French Riviera has some great beaches and views of the Mediterranean.

Moving to France was daunting at first but overall, a great experience that helped me to meet people, make lots of new friends and learn finance from a European perspective. Finding a job in Europe is also far easier with a European qualification and while living in the region, which is something that wouldn’t have been as easily available from Australia.

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