Having the chance to spend a semester at Bocconi University in Italy is a real privilege! Such opportunity had Olubunmi Abegunde, a 2-year student at the Global Finance master’s degree programme at the School of Public Policy and Management, RANEPA.

Young, brave, intelligent, commited to excellence and success- Olubunmi completely fits the Università Bocconi’s philosophy- “excellence can only be based on a person’s academic profile as well as on his or her values and cultural and ethical background”.

She shares with you her international educational experience. Enjoy reading Olubunmi’s story about her semester in Italy…

Spending a semester abroad must have been an interesting experience for you. You get ready, pack your suitcase and just get on the plane (ok, you probably forgot at least two things that are important). Let’s start from the beginning of your story…How did you decided to apply for the exchange programme at Bocconi University in Milan?

One of the key selling points of the Global Finance programme at RANEPA was the opportunity for students to go for an exchange programme at Bocconi University. Therefore, when I made the decision to come to RANEPA, I had the exchange programme to Bocconi University as one of my top goals. So, as soon as the opportunity was advertised, I grabbed it with both hands, Lol!

Milan is a lovely city and Bocconi University is one of the most prestigious in Italy. Founded in 1902, it was the first Italian university to grant a degree in economics. I believe it was an excellent chance to explore new things, share knowledge and ideas with new professors and a new group of classmates. In a regard to classes, subjects, teaching approach…what made the biggest impression on you? Compared to the educational experience you have in Moscow, what you could point out as a major difference between lectures at Bocconi University and lectures at the Global Finance master’s degree programme at RANEPA?

Bocconi University is indeed a citadel of learning and it lived up to its expectations. I was wowed by the fact that almost all the professors that taught me had previous industry experience. For example, one of the professors had worked with Goldman Sachs for about 15 years before deciding to become an academic. As someone who has an interest in academia in the future, these professors were living my dreams and I was greatly inspired.

In addition, as part of the class curriculum, we had guest speakers from industry, some of whom where CEO of companies, top investment Bankers, Partners in Private equity and Venture capital firms. These sessions helped me to relate theory to practice. But asides that, I was also highly inspired by their career progression stories, and how every one of them emphasized the importance of loving what you do.

For me, the major difference between my program at RANEPA and that of Bocconi is the number of students in the classroom and the time allotted for examinations. At Bocconi University, the average number of students in my class were 50, which is quite large compared to RANEPA. Also, at Bocconi University, the time conditions for exams were really tight. Some of the exams were as short as 45 minutes, compared to RANEPA where I had a reasonable amount of time without feeling time pressured.

Student life at Bocconi University. Please, tell us about the place you were located at. Did you make a lot of new friends there?

I stayed off campus. My flat was about 15 minutes away from the university by Tram and 30 minutes on foot. This was a very convenient place for me as there were many restaurants, supermarkets, gyms, just within a mile radius. Yes, I made a few new friends there.

Milan is a lovely city! What you like best about the city? It has an impressive architecture and a lot of places to visit. We all know it is the Europe’s fashion capital and if you are into fashion it must have been a great feeling doing some shopping there. One of the main attractions of the city is the oldest shopping centre in Italy- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Did you have the chance to visit it? What places in Milan you find the most interesting ones?

Yes! Milan is a lovely city. I appreciate the fact that the people are able to preserve their history. The city has a vintage feel to it, which makes it all the more beautiful. I haven’t been to a country where many people, I mean even professionals, use bicycles to commute. That was a rare experience for me. I love the fashion sense of the people. I attended a few career events and everyone looked like a million bucks!

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Duomo, the San Siro Stadium etc. are all architectural masterpieces. I think the most interesting for me was the San Siro stadium tour. There were many pictures of authentic Jerseys and shoes worn by football legends, champions league trophies, and other art objects. This was interesting for me because I was able to relate with a lot of names I saw. I found this strange because I didn’t think I had so much knowledge about football, but apparently I did! In addition, entering the changing rooms of AC Milan and Inter Milan, and sitting on their sits was another beautiful experience.

How would you describe Italians in three words?

Happy, Family-oriented, and Simple-yet-classy.

Did you like the famous Italian food?

The pizza Margherita was awesome. I also loved the Pasta (I can’t remember the name now, Lol!). But yeah, Italian dishes are one of a kind.

Did you have the time to visit other cities in Italy?

Yes, I visited Torino with my friends. It was such a beautiful city and it made me appreciate history and brilliant аrchitecture.

If you have a chance to go abroad again on some other exchange programme, will you go? What are your aspirations for the future? This semester you are about to graduate at the Global Finance master programme. What are your plans for the near future?

Yes, yes and yes! I will always jump at the opportunity to go for an exchange programme. Apart from the educational experience, one has the opportunity to adapt to a completely new environment, culture and sometimes language. I think this kind of adaptation skill is very relevant in the work place and employers appreciate candidates who have this kind of exposure.

Upon graduation, I would be resuming as a Finance Analyst at Barclays PLC in London.

In the future, I aspire to become a thought leader in the areas of Finance, Family and Religion. I am passionate about the growth of my country Nigeria, and the rising of Africa. I believe that I have a significant role to play in this, and I am committed to seeing this happen.

I hope to be able to inspire and influence the younger generation to believe that they are an important part of society, and hence, they must seek to add value to humanity. I aspire that through my life, many would come to believe that impossibility is nothing, if only they can believe in themselves and trust in God.

Your personal motto in life.

The very profound quote by Oprah Winfrey, “Excellence is the best deterrent to racism, sexism, and every other –isms”. Excellence is not gender specific, race specific, tribe specific or country specific, and I think the world understands, appreciates, and embraces this fact. Excellence for me is non-negotiable. I am committed to it, and so far, God has helped me.

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