Study Banking and International Finance in the UK

Encouraged me to think about the future of my career

Study Banking and International Finance in the UK

I highly value the chance of being in such a diverse environment, it has allowed me to get to know people from so many places with a range variety of understandings. I have been able to learn not only from the life experiences and culture of my fellow classmates, but also from the business environment and the challenges of modern banking in different geographies, enriching my perspective and network in a world of integrated financial markets and global companies.

Why did you choose this university? 

I chose to study MSc Banking and International Finance at Leeds University Business School because the course content cover the central issues in modern banking and financial markets, the University has a strong research culture as part of the Russell Group, LUBS holds triple accreditation from the three leading bodies AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS being part of the top business schools in the world and has also been named a Centre of Excellence by the Chartered Banker Institute.

How do you find university life? How is this different from student life in your home country?

One of the things that is different from my previous academic experience, and I love about the postgraduate programme, is that it is design to have a big proportion of time spent as independent study, I like been able to manage my study time and combine it with my personal interests, hobbies, and a part-time job.

Another difference is the focus on employability. Since day one the university has encouraged me to think about the future of my career and how the tools and resources that they offer can help me boost my CV. For students doing Banking and International Finance, I think the most relevant credentials are the Bloomberg certifications, the CFA University Affiliation that signals the curriculum is closely tied to the practice of investment management, and the membership to the Charted Banker Institute while studying being eligible for Chartered Banker status upon graduation.

What are you studying and why? 

I am studying MSc Banking and International Finance. Before coming to Leeds, I studied a bachelor’s degree in economics, and I worked as a Business Consultant collaborating to implement strategic projects in some of the biggest banks of Mexico. Although I gained a general perspective of the Banking Industry through my previous education, and my work experience helped me to develop management and negotiation skills, I wanted to deepen my knowledge in Finance to keep growing professionally.

The best thing about my course are the modules. The core modules have a perfect mix of quantitative and theoretical views, fomenting critical thinking and connecting ideas across subjects. We also choose optional modules to have a more personalized learning experience and to gain skills for real-world application in the financial labor market.

The knowledge acquired has allowed me to understand from another perspective situations that I lived on a day-to-day basis in the company where I worked, but now I can be more critical with certain things that I took for granted, and I think this will allow me to move from the execution of projects to a more strategic role in the future.

Describe a typical day as a student/on your course

A normal day begins at 7am when I have breakfast and start getting ready to go to class. I usually have two to four hours of classes a day, starting between nine and eleven in the morning. After having classes or seminars I usually go to the cafeteria to eat something with my classmates, we usually use these spaces to discuss our doubts and ideas from previous sessions. Most people are very independent, so in general after having this snack each one continues with their activities on their own. Sometimes I go back to the residence and study in my room, other times I go to the library. Between 6 and 7pm I go to the gym where, depending on the day, I take spinning, body combat or resistance band classes. After exercising, I return to the accommodation where I prepare lunch and dinner, most days I meet one of my roomies (who are from Azerbaijan, India, Uganda and Thailand) and we have a little talk about how the day was.

On Thursdays I don't have classes, but I go to a meditation session organized by the University's Wellbeing department, it is guided by a specialist, and it helps me control stress and manage my emotions better. On Tuesdays the University organizes a space called Global Café designed to meet people from other countries and make friends. On Fridays I like to go to the pub with my friends or go out dancing at a club. On Saturdays I usually meet friends to go to museums, see places or go hiking. On Sundays, I organize myself with my roomies to clean the house, I go to the supermarket and organize the activities for the week ahead.

Tell us about the town/city and what you love about it!

Leeds is a young, diverse, and vibrant city for creativity and culture. One of my favourite areas of the city is Hyde Park, here you can find great places to study, chill or meet pals. I really enjoy a good cup of coffee and nice music while I’m working on my assignments, exploring vintage shops, running at the park Woodhouse Moor, and discovering art galleries, exhibitions, and music performances.

Tell us about your accommodation

I decided to apply to the university residences because the process was easy, and it seemed more reliable than going to an external company. The apartment I'm in was the cheapest option available since I decided to sacrifice space or comfort in exchange for having more money available to travel and not being so tight in day-to-day expenses. However, sometimes I find it difficult to adapt to sharing the apartment (and the two bathrooms) with 6 other people or that the facilities, being old, have constant failures. On the positive side, the room I have is comfortable, I have adequate space to store my things, rest, and study, and best of all, the business school is a 10-minute walk away.

One piece of advice that I would give to someone looking for an accommodation is that they not only consider the prices, but also the number of people with whom they share, if the room has its own bathroom, the distance to the university, the safety of the neighbourhood, and the common areas. And contrast these elements with the budget that is available.

What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time I enjoy exercising, The Edge has amazing facilities and literally over a hundred classes to join and keep yourself fit, have fun, and meet people. The University’s societies host events all the time from cultural activities to networking and skill-development sessions which has also permitted me to explore other interests.

If English is not your first language, how did you find the transition into studying in English?

Despite considering that I had a good level of English, having to adapt to different accents and using it all the time was a process that required time and patience. However, week by week I was gaining fluency and understanding everything better. The strategies I followed to adapt were to talk to other people as much as possible, listen to the radio and watch videos on YouTube about common phrases in England.

The professors are very understanding when it comes to international students studying in a language that is not their mother tongue and the university has many resources to improve your language skills: computer centers with online courses, exchanges with native students who want to learn your language, sessions in the library on writing essays, public speaking, or tips for reading and answering exams.

Is there anything else you´d have liked to know before you applied, started university or went to the UK?

Yes, like many other people from Latin America, I found that most of the individuals in my program were younger than me, because in Europe and Asia most of the degrees last only 3 years (my degree lasted 5) and I had 4 years of work experience. So, my classmates can be up to 6 years younger and that's something I didn't expect. However, having experience allows you to have another perspective of what you are learning and to know how what you see in the classroom is relevant in practice.

- Ilse

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