2d year master student
Being part of the Joint Degree Programme in Economics and Politics since almost 18 months, I can hardly tell anything negative about it. In my opinion, the main advantages are the following:
First, the programme allows you to effectively combine two matters of study. I have always been interested in Political Science, but my Bachelor was pure Economics. The Joint Degree Programme seemed like a natural choice. In Louvain-la-Neuve, I was able to take a course on Political Economy that combined the arguments of both disciplines. In Milan, the programme even foresees a course in Political Philosophy that I found very interesting. Additionally, there is the possibility to choose freely some elective courses as a function of one’s interests.
Second, the programme (and especially the exchange between the host and the guest university) is very well organized. A detailed plan of study anticipates the courses one can take at the guest university. There is no uncertainty whether a course will be credited at the home university or not. Inconvenient surprises (as I have sometimes experienced during my Erasmus) are thus excluded from the beginning. Another positive point concerning the organization is that there is one central contact person at each university (Pascale Schicks in Louvain-la-Neuve and Franco Donzelli in Milan) that takes care especially of the Joint Degree students. Therefore, if you have a question, you can be sure that it will be answered rapidly and competently. Finally, also the financial aid for participating students is well organized. Being one of the most expensive cities in Europe, it is almost impossible to live in Milan without a scholarship. The programme founders realized that and grant 8000 Euros to each student going to Milan.
Third, the programme allows you to spend your time in two cities that are very different from each other. Louvain-la-Neuve is a small and cosy city embedded in the calm Belgian landscape. No cars are allowed in the city and the biggest part of the population are students. Everything is very familiar and you immediately feel like home. I certainly developed a strong affection for Louvain-la-Neuve during my stay. Milan is, to some respect, the complete opposite of that. It is a big, fast moving and sometimes noisy city. However, large scale cities offer much more opportunities with respect to cultural activities, sightseeing, shopping, sports and going out at night. So it really depends on what kind of city you prefer. In any case, the programme allows you to get to know two places completely different from each other. The cultural enrichment is also stunning: Being myself a German, both the “student folklore” in Louvain-la-Neuve and the “Milan chic” were new to me. Furthermore, what comes automatically with living in a foreign country are, of course, the languages. By the end of my studies, I will be able to speak four languages fluently. This would not have been possible if I had stayed in Germany.
So, if you are interested to study with many international students in two different countries and to get to know the Belgian and the Italian culture, don’t hesitate to apply! It’s worth it.