|STUDENT REPORT - ESCP EUROPE, PARIS – FALL 2014
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOOL
ESCP Europe was founded in 1819, it is the oldest business school in France, and it is considered to be one of France’s top three business schools. In 2010, The Financial Times ranked ESCP as having the number one Master of Management worldwide. The school is situated in arrondissement 11, with the metro stop Rue Saint Maur right outside the school. The campus consists of 6 buildings that surround the beautiful schoolyard. Compared to BI, the school is relatively small, and the technical facilities are not as good as at BI. Be prepared for printers out of order, a small and crowded library, nowhere to plug your charger, and generally worn down and old facilities.
There are around 2500 students with approximately 450 exchange students.
ESCP Europe offers 2.5 and 5 credits courses with a duration of 5 and 10 weeks respectively. The 2.5 credit courses take place in either the first or the second part of the semester. If you choose no specialization, you will have only electives and the final exams will be held in the last class (where it is the case – some courses have only projects to be handed in). Often, the final exams are multiple-choice exams.
ESCP is very helpful in case you want to make changes to your course choice. However, you are not allowed to make any changes in your courses after the introductory week. If you choose to drop a course after this deadline you will be registered as failed. Also, it is mandatory to attend the courses. More than two absences mean that you automatically fail the course.
Information before you left
When did you receive the information package from the University?
I received an information package from the University in May. The package was informative and included all the necessary information for getting started at ESCP as well as tourist information for Paris. I also received my student ID and password in May and was able to access the school mail address and intranet. However, the intranet is messy and not at all easy to navigate in, and there were no updated information about my courses or calendar until way into the studies.
It takes ages to get the student identity card. So be sure to fulfill all requirements, when everything in France takes time.
Visa Procedure and travel experiences
Does the visa cost anything?
Residents from EU or EFTA countries do not need to have a visa to enter France.
For the students out of EU or EFTA it is obligate to apply a short-stay visa. Generally, it takes 15 days to wait to get the visa done in the local French embassy.
How did you order your ticket – any problems?
Norwegian, SAS and Air France all offer reasonable flights to Orly and CDG. If you are under 25, you can order youth/student tickets with both SAS and AirFrance,
The introductory week started in the beginning of September, with a compulsory seminar; European Integration Seminar. This seminar lasted for 1 week with a written exam on the last day. If you passed this exam you were accredited 2.5 ECTS. Check in advance with the International Office whether you get this course approved or not. The normal courses started one week later.
Since I only had English courses, all final exams where held at the end of the last lecture. If you choose French courses, there is an exam week during the third week of December.
Any special events?
The school has several students’ associations that organize parties, events and trips throughout the semester.
The international office at ESCP arranged some events for the international students, such as an international picnic, international food festival and a farewell cocktail. In addition, in December there is an international fair for ESCP students where I had the opportunity to represent BI with our stand.
Generally the reception at the school was good, and the International office is very helpful with all kinds of requests, from opening a bank account to helping to find accommodation.
If you want to open a French bank account be sure to ask the International Office what bank to choose, because one of the banks give students up to 90 euros for opening an account, which is always handy. Be aware that any memberships at gyms, subscriptions for telephones etc. are very difficult to get out of. Start planning this already months before you leave, as it requires extensive procedures. There are even professional bureaus you can pay to help you with this.
Was the administration and faculty well prepared for your arrival?
Everybody was well prepared and a buddy program was offered for those who wanted to get to know French students.
Did the school’s students participate in the reception of the exchange students?
Unfortunately the school students did not engage in the reception of the exchange students besides some brief presentations of student organizations that were held at the introductory day.
There are several opportunities regarding housing. ESCP has no accommodation on campus. However, the school has an agreement with a student residence called “Le Vivaldi”. You have to send in an application to live here. ESCP sends you the application form before you arrive, which you have to fill out. Le Vivaldi is located 25 minutes away from the school by metro. Most international students at ESCP stay here. However it is very expensive, with strict housing rules, and many students didn’t think it was worth the money. Another option is Cite International (http://www.ciup.fr/en), which is a huge student city located South in Paris, approximately 45 minutes away from school by metro. Here you have 40 student houses of different nations. The standard differs between the houses. You also have to apply to stay here, and we recommend you to apply early. However, you are not guaranteed a place even if you apply early. The Norwegian House is comprised of 50% Norwegian students and 50% foreign students. Although they claim to have newly renovated the Norwegian house, the standard is still very simple. There is one kitchen and four showers/toilets on each floor and you have to share these with the other people on your floor. Keep in mind that there are 20 rooms per floor, so the kitchen tends to be quite messy. Getting a taxi in the evenings is very difficult so getting home in the evening can be a problem. I did not live at either of the student residences, but rented a flat on the private market. Try also to ask via ESCP’s Facebook site for international students.
If you speak French pretty good, we would recommend you to try to rent an apartment through www.pap.fr, which is like www.finn.no. However, it can be difficult to get an apartment since most of the landlords want long term contracts, but it is worth a try since it is a lot cheaper than through an agency.
A good way to look for an apartment is to do a profile on websites such apartager.com, where one can get in touch with others who rent out a room in their apartments. If one has the possibility to go to Paris well in advance (one month before semester start), it makes the search much easier as one still has a lot to choose from. Since sometimes the profiles look nicer than they actually are, I definitely recommend having a look prior to making an agreement.
There are other websites offering long term rentals are:
All in all, I recommend to rather pay more for housing and live quite close, as this will make Paris a lot more enjoyable than it is when living on the rim of the city. A good tip is to consider that the longer the period you rent for the cheaper is the rent. And in Paris, there are very often short-term notices if you want to resign from a contract, typically 1 month). So, if possible you could rent for, like a whole year and than resign from the contract such that you can leave when you are supposed to. There is some money to save on this if you decide to rent your own apartment.
Another thing to consider are the different districts, some districts are rather shady. So be sure to do some research before you sign any contract. You find this especially in parts of 18th, 19th and 20th arrondissement.
Accommodation: approximately 700 EUR / month in “Le Vivaldi” residence, 470 EUR / month at Norwegian House at Cité. Apartments range from 700 for a small room to 2000 EUR for a high standard apartment in a good location.
Transportation: 60 EUR / month for a RER/Metro pass. I recommend the city bike. You pay 40 EUR for one year. It is often faster than taking the metro, and it is so much nicer to experience Paris from the streets than from under ground. You will find bikes and bicycle lanes throughout the city.
Food: Paris is a bit cheaper than in Norway, but you can find both cheap and more expensive options. The food at the school cafeteria is quite OK, but be prepared to stand in line for up to 30 minutes, just to get into the canteen. This resulted in frequent visits to the bakeries and shops outside the school in stead.
Mobile: There is an operator which costs 20EUR/month for unlimited texts, calls and data www.freemobile.fr, but you need to have a French bank account in order to sign a contract. I used my Norwegian phone during the whole stay and did not pay too much using One Call.
Books: most lectures do not require any books; hand-ins are distributed freely in class and you have almost all reading materials available
Internet: There is only one type of contract for less than one year at Orange. It is reliable, but it is expensive and it obliges you to also pay a monthly fee for a fix phone that you never use. At the Norwegian House Internet is included in the rent. Most apartments also have internet included in the rent.
The International Office
Is there an international office?
Yes and they are very active and helpful.
How does the international office function?
The International Office is located on campus. If you have any requests you should send an e-mail or you can drop by the office.
Do you receive all relevant information?
I received all relevant information upon arrival.
How was your relationship with other students?
French students are rather distant and do not interact much with exchange students. The exchange students made a Facebook group were we planned social activities together..
How is the relationship among the exchange students?
Exchange students were easier to get in touch with than French ones.
Is there a student organization, and if so, are the exchange students part of it?
ESCP has a lot of student organizations and student activities organized and they are eager to accept exchange students. Unfortunately, most student organizations organize French speaking activities and it is rather hard for non-French speaking students to integrate.
Are there any special activities and gatherings for exchange students?
There are social activities and gatherings at school and there are also Erasmus gatherings so exchange students can interact with each other.
How do you like it at the school?
The school was nice and some courses were really good. However, school facilities are quite old compared to BI. The library is very small, old and loud so it is better to study at home or find a better library in Paris, like the one at Pompidou. There is also a computer room separated from the library called Micromegas. There is a heavy focus on group work, however it can be difficult to find a space to work. If you have a paper to hand in, don’t try to print it right before the deadline. Chances are the printers are out of order. I bought myself a printer to have at home, and many of my fellow students asked me to print stuff for them.
Culture and Language
Did you have any language problems with the faculty or other students?
There are some language problems at school. Not all the personnel speak fluent English and not all the professors speak English. No one at the IT helpdesk speaks English, for example. However, you will get by only speaking English. As French often are more helpful when you try to speak to them in French, knowing a few basic sentences will be good. ESCP also offer French language classes for all levels. This is taught once a week, and is a great way to learn some French.
If you take some courses taught in French. Most professors are aware of the French level of international students. Therefore, they tend to speak slowly and making more notes on the blackboard. Normally, the examinations can be answered in English if you think your level of French is not that competent. There is only one exception of a presentation, which is required to be held in French (LS01-02: Intégration européenne & management).
How are the possibilities to experience the country and the culture?
There are great possibilities to experience the French country and culture. Most touristic objectives are free for young people coming from the EU countries (18-25 years old) and there are a lot of great places to be seen inside as well as in nearby Paris. If you present your French student card, you can get into most museums and attractions for free.
How do you think the exchange experience influences your future career possibilities?
By taking courses in the école supérieure having the no.1 worldwide master in management program I consider that the career possibilities are enhanced. A potential employer will see the multicultural abilities of students and their adaptability and having completed a semester of exchange at ESCP is valuable for any company.
How would you evaluate the level of study in relationship to the level at BI?
At ESCP the workload is lower than at BI. However, the evaluation is continuous and part of the grade is based on the class contribution in most courses so you have to learn throughout the semester. However, there are not as many readings as at BI. You have to sign an attendance sheet and depending on the course, 3 absences may result in a failing grade. There is no structured cyllabus, so it is very difficult to prepare for the courses. All the finance courses that I took were based on a generally high level of earlier finance studies.
Is the teaching primarily practical or theoretical?
The teachers have a practical approach with many case studies and practical applications. You are expected to calculate valuations on all the finance cases. This can be quite time demanding if you are a bit rusty.
Are the professors using cases, group work or lectures (or a mix)?
The professors are usually using a mix of lectures, group work and case studies.
How is the workload compared to that at BI?
The workload could be less than at BI, but it depends on the subjects you choose and your previous level. Also, professors tend to be low graders (14 out of 20 is considered to be an excellent grade and only 15% of the students score over 14). The school will also translate your grades to the ABC system on the school report, and then you will most likely be disappointed when you end up with much lower grades than you are used to.
What types of exams were you given?
I had written exams (mid-term as well as final exams) and also case studies, presentations, multiple choices or a mixture of them. As exams are mostly taken at the end of the last lecture of the course, you sit in an auditorium without any space between people. Exams are relatively laid back in terms of rules and regulations.
LS01 - European Integration & Management Seminar 2.5 ECTS
The introductory seminar was very useful because you learn a lot about finding your ways in Paris and it gives a valuable insight into the French and Parisian cultures and historical milestones. I think that this course was very important for understanding the way things work in France. Each lecture was devoted to a different topic, such as great French figures, the EU, the French school system, and the history of Paris. It was a week-long course with a written exam at the end.
FA0D-A7 – Commodity Risk Management 5.0 ECTs
The course is quite interesting and focuses on characteristic of commodities versus financial assets, and you learn how commodities are traded and hedged. You need to know about options, futures and forwards, but the level is not too high. There is homework for each week that is graded and a final exam at the end. The homework is all about calculating hedging prices, cash and carry, options etc.
FA0C-A7 – Emerging Markets Finance – 5.0 ECTs
The course is about understanding the nature and dynamics of emerging markets. The professor was quite entertaining and the topic was interesting. In general you have some assignments every week that is not too difficult. There are two major cases that take time to complete, and you will have to run some valuation of companies etc. Hence, there will be quite extensive excel sheets. The exam at the end of the semester was quite easy.
FB03-A7 – Financial Analysis and Strategies of Firms – 5 ECTS
This was the most confusing course with two very different professors that did not coordinate their lectures too well. One was quite interesting and went through financial terms, strategies and analysis. The other lectured on cases. You were expected to present two cases where you perform financial analysis. This was quite demanding. The exam was also quite demanding, and you need a relatively broad and advanced understanding of finance to get a good grade. Also note that even if they say your presentation should not be more than 15 minutes, you are expected to try to go on for as long as you can (and have something interesting to talk about). And you actually get rewarded for doing this. Some of the presentations therefore lasted for over an hour. Also note that “class discussions” are really not discussions. You need to be sure that what you say is correct and intelligent before you raise your hand. If not, you are told off quite sharply.
FA15-A7 – Fixed Income– 5 ECTS
The course focuses on pricing of bonds and other fixed income instruments. You are expected to hand in homework every week that will be graded. You are given one large case that takes quite some time to solve and counts 40 % of your final grade. Also there is a final exam. The course was very structured and quite easy to follow. However, don’t expect good grades, even if you probably work a lot with this course.
FA14 – Valuation – 5 ECTS
The best course, and the most popular. It was structured and you learn a lot. There is a case for each week and you are expected to valuate companies with different methods. For the mid-term and the exam you are expected to run a discounted cash flow with many postings, so you will for sure run out of time. Everything is done manually, and you must summarize endless rows of numbers on your calculator. You feel like you are tested in how fast you can operate your calculator more than the actual curriculum. It is easy to freak out and make silly mistakes. The course is also considered to be quite advanced. But compared to the other courses, at least it was clear what was expected of you.