It took me a while to get to Luxembourg. When I finished eleventh grade, I first went to London under the Foundation program. I was planning to stay there, but then 2014 came when the first sanctions were imposed on Russia. The exchange rate of the British pound went over 100 roubles at the time, so it became very expensive. I didn't want to be a burden on my whole family. Plus, there was the risk of not being able to finish my studies at all. On top of all that, homesickness was starting to kick in. So I decided to move back to Moscow and looked for double-degree programs in English. The Higher School of Economics and Moscow State Institute of International Relations offered them.
It was in 2013, I think, that the School of Government and international affairs program appeared in MGIMO. The program was entirely in English. Since I already had an IELTS certificate and a completed Foundation program, I was accepted as a foreign student.
It took me 4 years, and there was the Bologna system, meaning that I had no need to bring my diploma in accordance with the European programs. I finished my bachelor's degree, wrote a paper, by the way, about blockchain, and got my diploma defense. By the way, I got quite a good grade, I got an average of 89 and the defense received a 95. That helps in the future.
So then I decided to work for a while. Just before that, I watched The Wolf of Wall Street and decided that being an attaché somewhere in French Guinea did not suit me very well. My desire was to go somewhere closer to the markets, to the stock exchanges, so I went to work as an analyst.
While the program at MGIMO was extensive, I felt that I lacked knowledge. There was a choice: CFA or master's degree. However, everything I was looking at would cost an insane amount of money. I wanted something more budget-friendly, without the involvement of family financing :)
I had been looking in Germany and France, and somehow the University of Luxembourg caught my eye. There was a program called Asset Management.
It was about that time that the covid started, and the language centers were closing. And I just wanted to get another certificate to make a nice portfolio so that I would definitely be accepted. But, alas, it didn't work out. So I applied to only one university for two programs — Wealth Management and Economics.
I also wanted to take GMAT, because it seemed, that my Bachelor's program did not have enough financial history and it would be difficult for me to get into the programs I applied for. I registered for the exam, yet I kept getting feedback that the dates were being rescheduled and then canceled due to covid restrictions. The application deadline was fast approaching. I remember how I was sobbing, but at some point, I thought "Hey, whatever happens, I'll turn in everything I have at the moment".
For enrollment, you need to provide your diploma, CV and a letter of motivation.
The Wealth Management program was the first one to respond to me. Early in the morning, the dean emailed me: «So and so, I am glad to inform you that you have been accepted to the program». I was very surprised then, I thought it was some kind of scam. Usually, the university sends an official letter, but this was just a message, signed by a person. I searched for who it was, and it turned out — indeed, the dean!
He assured me that there was no need to worry, the university would send an official confirmation in a week. And so it happened, I received a letter from the university too.
I was very lucky, I didn't have any admission tests at all! A girl from the student community told me later that there was an unreal pile of applications for my program, dating back almost as far as the 2000s. They review them regularly and send invitations to the earliest ones if they are still relevant.
I talked to the dean about why it turned out that I didn't wait all that time in line. He replied that the motivation letter really got to him. Plus it was a strong score. Work experience also helped!
Generally, the university does everything for you. Basically, you only need to get a visa D and submit all the necessary documents. They will help you arrange your residence permit, insurance, and dormitory.
But in order to get a permit, even with University's help, you need to prove that you have enough money.
If I am not mistaken, I confirmed the amount of about $20,000. I was still working part-time back then, and I negotiated that point too. Students in Luxembourg are allowed to work no more than 20 hours a week. When I arrived, the minimum amount for a month was about 1350 euros per month, not including rent.
You then receive a certificate from the university stating that you are enrolled for the first semester. Next, you need a certificate from the municipality. Basically, the university gives you most of the documents you need. It's pretty easy in that respect.
You collect this first package of documents and bring it to the Ministry of Immigration. Then they will ask you to have the diploma accredited. You will need the original, a sworn translator will translate and certify it. After that, the apostille is placed and the package is submitted to the Ministry of Education.
You receive confirmation that the diploma has been accepted, and a statement that shows your grades. And that's it, then you get your card. It is valid for one year, and then you have to renew it.
The education program was originally about $15,000 to $20,000 a year. Then some structural changes took place: the state began to sponsor the program. As a result, the price was only 200 euros per semester, with the rest coming from the budget!
In the end, I only paid 800 euros for the tuition fee for the whole time. Of course, I still have to pay for insurance, which is about 200 euros, and for the dormitory — the deposit and the insurance of the dormitory itself.
The cost may vary from place to place, but usually, the university website provides a very detailed description of what fees are and how much will education cost.
Most of the subjects in the program are compulsory. There are extra courses that are optional, but because of work, I did not have time to master them.
We had a modular system, so we studied a lot of things. The program included all the disciplines of asset management, as well as various market instruments, including derivatives, stocks, bonds, and exchange-traded funds.
We learned everything, down to developing an asset management strategy. We also studied law, and it was a very deep immersion: we studied Muslim law and Shariah laws. We also had a course on the subtleties of the legislation in the stock market, since this is very developed and in demand in Luxembourg.
Naturally, we also studied the real estate market; we even had projects in this industry. Some of my fellow students went to work in real estate after graduation. Another specialization, which, by the way, is in high demand in Luxembourg.
The modular grading system is quite comfortable. A module consists of 4 subjects, and a passing grade is 10 out of 20. If you don't make it in one course, but you do well in the others, they give you a pass in advance. I had the same thing in Green Finance. I was not really interested in this module, so I barely went to class and got a 9.5. But I got 15-20 points in three other subjects from that module, so they gave me credit.
Twice a semester you have your favorite exams, of course. There are two times during the semester when you have to pass tests and show your knowledge. Just like in Russia. The only difference is that in Russia they try to put exams with an interval of 2-3 days, while here they can put them almost in a row.
For example: on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or, say, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday. That's very stressful. You really have to know the discipline well, because there's almost no time to prepare.
And another interesting thing: almost no one wrote a thesis in my field. A graduate thesis here is basically a report on your six-month internship. The internship is official and mandatory. You have to use a case study from the internship in your report.
It was very easy because I love what I do. I was already on an internship when the conflict between Russia and Ukraine began, and I saw the impact that the sanctions had on the market for financial instruments related to Russia in one way or another.
These sanctions were issued with a such rapid speed that European financial institutions simply did not have time to interpret them; no one knew exactly what to do or how to do it. Therefore there were plenty of problematic cases to study. I chose for myself the topic of ADR/GDR issuers of the Russian Federation, which were traded on foreign sites, and almost immediately entered the block.
As a result, thanks to my huge practical experience, I finished my thesis in three nights and got 18.5 out of 20.
I can say that there is always something for students to do. The university itself organized a lot of different parties. For example, during the covid, they helped the students in every way possible. There were online seminars, online yoga, and psychological help available for those who needed it.
The startup community was growing at that time too. In fact, students were sitting at home, and had nothing to do, and they started organizing conferences, some kind of brainstorming sessions — it was pretty cool! In addition, the state gives grants, so everyone was encouraged to do things.
The University of Luxembourg is famous for its business incubator and its help to startups. During covid, we all stayed at home for the first year; there were plenty of contests, competitions, and collaborations.
When the covid was over, the university started hosting parties again. Free language courses returned. Seminars on all kinds of topics began again. For example, we had seminars about vaccines, how they work, and how they are produced. Experts from Pfizer were invited, and they talked about how they derive formulas, and how drugs are developed.
There were gatherings, there were sciences, and there were some business collaborations. I can surely say that the university does a lot for students.
I was hanging out with my friends mainly, we were used to having fun in a small group. But I went to the university's festivities, too. I attended a Halloween party, for sure. I also went to a rock concert, for which the university gave me a ticket, too. The university does this quite often: it buys tickets for exhibitions, concerts, and master classes and gives them to students for free.
As I said before, your task is only to get a D Visa, the rest will be done for you by the university.
Documents for D Visa for a student include:
Even though studying at a Luxembourg university can be challenging, it is more than compensated for by the opportunities it offers. Moreover, the university provides a lot of help: it arranges the necessary documents, assists with visas and residence permits, organizes leisure activities, and offers access to the scientific and business environment.
All this contributes to the development of personal skills and allows you to better understand what you want to do in life.
You can read more about the specifics of Luxembourg's educational system in our knowledge library:
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