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‘I Like the Balance between Practice and Theory’

Masoud Ebadi

Masoud Ebadi
Photo courtesy of Masoud Ebadi

Masoud Ebadi from Tehran, Iran is currently pursuing a Master’s in Strategic Corporate Finance (SCF) at HSE University Moscow (Faculty of Economic Sciences). In this interview, he talks about his experience of the admissions process, the advantages of master’s studies at HSE, and what he loves about Moscow—including food recommendations for new arrivals.

Applying to HSE

A friend of mine is an HSE alumnus. She told me about HSE, its culture, and its students. She also told me that HSE is among the best universities in Russia and that HSE students are ambitious in every aspect of life.

When I decided to study corporate finance, I remembered her words. I went to the HSE website to learn more about the university and specifically about the SCF programme.

Alumni careers were much better than I expected, and the course descriptions included the skills and knowledge I was searching for

The admission process was smooth. The HSE website has a clear description of the admission steps, and everything proceeded as described on the website. First, I sent my documents for preliminary online assessment. The International Student Recruitment Centre told me that my chances were good, and I translated my documents into Russian.

The admission process also involved a Zoom interview with questions on econometrics, statistics, math, and finance. The professor who asked me questions seemed kind, calm, and highly meticulous. He also asked me about my objectives, motivation, and background.

My programme’s international relations representative, Oxana Budjko, regularly scheduled online meetings to familiarise us with the programme and help us get to know our classmates before enrolment.

We also got advice on necessary preliminary courses, changes in COVID-19 regulations, symposiums, and even special museum exhibitions

Master’s Studies

Master’s in Strategic Corporate Finance is a mixture of an academic degree and an MBA. In the first semester, more than half of the courses were about economic science: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics. The econometrics and methodology syllabuses were more practice oriented than math/stats oriented—this is also true of most other courses.

There is a greater emphasis on applicability and practicality than pure theory

Personally, I like the balance between practice and theory. It helps me to develop my skills, from working in a team to analytical and statistics inference skills. I am currently in the first part of my second semester (Module 3), and the majority of my classes have been online. Most classes are recorded, but I prefer to attend class in real time.

COVID-19 restrictions mean that I haven’t had the chance to interact with many students except my teammates. Most of my projects involve working in a group of five to six people. We do lots of projects, so we interact a lot. My teammates are very smart, efficient, ambitious, amiable, perceptive, and willing to lend a hand. I am happy to be part of this environment.

In terms of workload, I would say while the courses are not complicated, we had almost three deadlines per week for two-thirds of the first semester. The assessment is based on both teamwork projects and written exams. I would call it essential, compact, and intensive. It seems to me that from this semester onward, we will have much less of a workload. Most second-year students that I saw use this opportunity to gain experience through paid internships.

Life Outside the Classroom

Because of pandemic restrictions, I relocated to Moscow later and all my classes were online. Starting this semester, my classes are hybrid and I have the opportunity to interact with other students.

I regularly chat with my teammates—we talk about almost anything. When I have difficulties, they give me advice or ask their friends about it

HSE student organizations plan different events. Recently, they had a ‘dog-dating’ event, where we met and cuddled stray dogs and cats in an animal shelter. I found it both novel and soul-stirring. I will definitely join them for the next event. I am also considering joining language clubs.

The Buddy Program (run by the Erasmus Student Network) helped me to do my administration work in Moscow much faster than I could do by myself. My Buddy, Anya, is a sociology student with a keen interest in cultural exchange. We’ve talked and discussed a lot, and I learnt many things from her. She also has her own terminology and approaches concepts in a creative way, like describing things using memes. These discussions helped me to understand and think about different social concepts and to adapt faster.

I live in Dormitory 4, in the Dorogomilovo district near Studencheskaya metro station and the Moscow River. I especially like taking a stroll by the river.

I have interesting floor-mates—we talk and hang out from time to time. They come from different backgrounds, and they are all talented

They cook all kinds of food, and they even have a meat grinder. We play chess and table tennis sometimes. They are friendly, and we have lots of what my Buddy calls ‘kitchen talks’.

Moscow Sights and Food

I visited Moscow when I was backpacking along the Trans-Siberian railway in 2017. At that time, I visited a lot of notable places. Red Square and its surroundings have a unique and astonishing atmosphere. I also loved the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, the Tretyakov Gallery, and Gorky Park.

Masoud Ebadi
Photo courtesy of Masoud Ebadi

This time, because of the COVID-19 situation, I relocated to Moscow in the last week of November 2021. I was busy with administrative work, a term paper and exams. But during the New Year holidays, I had the chance to visit Izmaylovo district for the New Year market and Vodka Museum. The Museum of Cosmonautics is on my to-do list.

In my view, Russian cuisine is wonderful. I have tried and enjoyed Olivier salad, borscht, and tvorozhnaya massa—coulibiac is on my to-do list

One can find Eastern European, Central Asia, and Caucasian cuisine in Moscow. There are also some great recipes. My absolute favourite is Moscow Cake: it’s modern, but delicious.

Why choose HSE University?

HSE stands out for its friendly environment, the courses and syllabuses, the well-designed mixture of theory and practice, the focus on groupwork, the experienced lecturers, and the smart, amiable, and keen students. Not to mention that when we compare the cost of living and tuition fees in Moscow to other notable institutions and cities, HSE is much more affordable. Also, Moscow has very good infrastructure and cuisine.

I would recommend HSE University in Moscow to my friends because I am a good friend to them, and I think HSE is an option they should consider

Admissions to HSE’s Bachelor's and Master’s programmes are now open. International students can apply online. Submit your application early to qualify for a full-tuition scholarship

To learn more about HSE University, its admission process, or life in Moscow, please visit International Admissions website, or contact the Education & Training Advisory Centre. The staff are happy to advise applicants and their parents via e-mail at inter@hse.ru, by phone +7 (495) 531 00 59, or WhatsApp +7 (916) 311 85 21, as well as on social media in Russian and in English: VkontakteFacebookTelegram and Instagram.

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