Period 3 at Maastricht University – summary

Period 3 lasts only 2 weeks and you have a skill course. This intensive training was the last part of my exchange semester in Maastricht.

Andrea Chegut – our Excel tutorAndrea Chegut – our Excel tutor, Source:

Most of the exchange students do not attend the skill course in Period 3, because coming back for 2 weeks does not make sense if you live far away. The exams for period 2 are scheduled before Christmas and period 3 begins in the mid January so only those who need the credits come back after 3 weeks holiday. The second factor is the course selection possibility. As most of the master programmes lasts only one year, the only skill courses provided at master level are thesis connected and as Erasmus exchange student, you are not allowed to enroll and of course it does not make any sense to do so. Your choice is then restricted to the offered skill courses at bachelor level.

Skill courses – what it's about?

It's about skills obviously Smiley :D Meaning these courses are focused not that much on gaining academic knowledge, but on enhancing your abilities to master some computer programme, soft skill like presentation ability etc. As I mentioned, the whole fun lasts only 2 weeks which does not provide much space for lectures and most of the work is done outside the class – there is always some assignment of project connected to the course.

When I was deciding for which course I should sign, I was doubting if I should try totally new topic like supply chain management or if I should stick to the field where I have at least some backgroud knowledge. Good thing about the skills is that you can actually finally learn something really practical and usefull what you always wanted to learn from some book, but you never found time or motivation big enough.

Excel for finance

My choice was Excel for finance. I already knew how to operate Excel as such, but only at general level like what the buttons are for, how to search for help etc. I never heally did something connected to the finance (except keeping some track of my income and expenditures). As my major at Charles University in Prague is Finance I thought this course would be definitelly the right choice. Microsoft Excel is widely used among companies and therefore better knowledge of this software also creates higher possibility of getting hired Smiley :) This fact was also emphasized by our tutor Andrea – she has a long working experience and Excel was her daily bread. Good to hear that. I expected that we will be shown tips and tricks in Excel, how to do stuff faster and more effectively. In addition to that, we will learn to apply those while solving exercises connected to the world of finance. Wrong.

We clearly followed a book Principles of Finance with Excel by Simon Benninga. The newest version of this book was already borrowed from the library, so I was searching the internet for a free download of pdf version. Well, I am not willing to pay 60€ for a book that we will use for 5 meetings within 2 weeks! (Well, students here obviously are willing to do that.) I found a really old version, something like draft of the book, which was useful, but I also managed to get the previous version of the book from the library. Nice.

The Finance stuff we deals with was ok, but the problem was the excel itself. Most of the people weren't familiar with Excel at all, so we learned the basics. Boring. Than we got exercises to solve – but they were all from the book and everybody had the solution. Meaning, that replicating them was ok – we needed to practice the stuff – but we also were asked to describe what we were doing. So yeah, there was some added value of the course, but I expected some more. Based on that, my evaluation was: „There should be some detailed introduction lecture and actually more lectures about Excel tips and tricks that are usefull, but not written in a book. Exercises (we had to do) were too time-consuming without any ruther added value – doing them was fine, but descibing was boring. I am aware of the purpose of the exercises, but if we had different excercises than just the ones from the book, than it would be better – learning by real doing.“

Article last edited 10. 3. 2012, viewed: 1587-times.
Total 702 words.
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labels Labels:Erasmus, Excel, Library, MSc, PBL, Study, University
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