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My journey to BI

Why study Applied Economics and why choose BI? From the perspective of a first-year international student

It is at times difficult to grasp the idea that this time last year I had never heard of BI Norwegian Business School, while today I am preparing to give my first semester final exams as a Master student in the Applied Economics program.

Full Name: Sonja Plaku
Home Country: Albania
Current study program: MSc. in Applied Economics

An applied degree

I remember first coming across the name of BI as I was somewhat hastily searching for possible graduate schools in Norway to start my studies in the fall of 2021. At the time, being very close to graduating with a double major in Economics and Mathematics, I was probing for a degree that would build up to my understanding of how to directly apply my mostly theoretical knowledge in Economics in relevant fields of interest such as banking, data analytics, or economic consulting. Juggling between senior year assignments and fast-approaching graduate school application deadlines, very few academic institutions managed to grab my attention through a first quick online search. While bearing the risk of this post resembling one of the university’s marketing campaigns, I hope to give a quick glimpse of my graduate program from the viewpoint of a first-year student to any prospective classmate.

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A customized degree

Most students who are interested in graduate economics, and possibly other graduate programs, likely understand the importance of intertwining a rigid academic curriculum offered from an internationally renowned institution, with the opportunity to work in a major, fast-developing European city. While looking into applying for this program, I was particularly intrigued by the opportunity to customize my degree by either choosing from a variety of elective courses or participating in an internship during my third semester of studies. I was able to quickly see that classes offered on my desired major focus both on theoretical knowledge and practical know-how. As a first-year student I would be introduced to general courses in macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics, paying special attention to optimization issues and programming languages for data analytics. Therefore, most professors recommend a solid statistics background, a detail-oriented mind, and a committed-to-the-work attitude as necessary for an advantageous start. What I would additionally recommend is coming prepared to spend most school days struggling over problem set solutions and research methods at the library. Rest assured, help from your classmates and the academic staff is always available.

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An accessible learning environment

The one thing that struck me the most when first starting my semester several months ago, was the small number of students enrolled in the Applied Economics Program. And by small I mean that only 20 students were enrolled for this year’s first semester of the program. With time I realized that this in turns allows for additional classrooms discussions and a better opportunity to directly engage with your professors by asking questions and receiving constant feedback. Note however that some of the courses are shared with students from the Business and Finance major, which allows most of us to mingle and share experiences with people of different backgrounds and similar interests. Looking back at my decision, I consider myself lucky enough to have chosen a program that challenges me daily and gives me enough support to continuously dwell on interesting topics outside of class. I would suggest the same choice to anyone with an avid interest in economic research and an analytical brain concerned with details.

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