– Blog post written by Aijaz Siddique, current Master in Finance from Pakistan –

Every individual is unique and their struggles and experiences are unique to them, today I share with you my perspective about a student’s life in IE and my experiences in Spain and Europe.

I had never been out of Pakistan and never been exposed to the European culture. Every journey has some beautiful moments and some murky ones; my journey from Karachi, Pakistan to Madrid, Spain has its ups and downs too. It was an opportunity of a lifetime to accept the scholarship from IE and come here for the Masters.

I was really lucky to find a place to stay with an Italian, Spanish, an Australian and a Belgian guy from my class. Every now and then one of us would cook for everybody at home. I have tried some good food and some weird recipes (imagine apples cooked with fried rice and chicken). However, the effort was always appreciated and I was probably the laziest at cooking. Also, it was a memorable experience in that everybody shared something about themselves every now and then. The times I spent eating, watching soccer or travelling with my class fellows are memorable. Usually after a whole week of studying and applications we organize a gathering or a party at the weekends. Sometimes students are even able to organize trips to other European cities or around Spain.

The program is actually one of the most intense Masters in Finance programs. The fact that it covers our financial education in just 10 months makes it really difficult. However, as I realized towards the end of the program, it does prepare one for a job in an investment bank or any other financial services position. The rigorous course load, group projects, the applications and other activities force you to prioritize your life according to your goals. However, it is possible to manage all this. Group projects are a crucial aspect of the masters. Most projects are really practical in nature, so you might have to perform merger and valuation of companies like BMW and Piaggio or take part in a portfolio competition where you are competing with other class groups. The faculty is very good and is comprised of Professors who have significant experience working in the financial services industry and help students with job opportunities. I secured my part time work with the help of a professor and I cannot express enough gratitude to him. It gave me an opportunity to apply  what I had learned in my job. Successfully managing courses and work requires a tremendous amount of effort.

Another thing from which I am learning a lot is my final dissertation. I have the opportunity to work with two people at the same time. The project in its entirety is a little bit difficult but it is quite interesting and motivating. It gave me a chance to employ myself towards studying a financing structure which has developed significantly post the financial crisis.

The Masters in Finance program has been a journey of self-exploration towards several aspects of my personality. In the last 8 months I have learned more about myself than I had in the last five years. One of the most important lessons to learn is that persistence pays off eventually. It is never too late to try and as we make mistakes we learn. That was also one reason I applied to IE. I can’t help but finish this piece with a line I cherish, “You have never really failed, until you have tried to succeed.”