From Pakistan to Almost-Paris: Afzal and Ramsha on Family Life at HEC

A couple with two young sons describes what it’s like to live on campus as a family.

Umar is not convinced at first

Tell us about your decision to do an MBA at HEC Paris MBA and bring your whole family along. That must have been a big deal!

Afzal: I read about the Palace of Versailles at school in Pakistan and never in my wildest dreams thought that one day I would be studying at a university nearby. When I decided to pursue my MBA, HEC Paris was my dream school, so getting admission was a big deal. I had my partner’s full support in this significant life-changing decision and experience. There is no doubt that getting admission to a top business school is a hectic process, but the real game begins once you get the offer, particularly if you plan to move with your partner or family. Ramsha and I decided that we would explore this journey together and immerse ourselves in this experience of a lifetime.

Ramsha: I was very excited when Afzal got admitted to HEC Paris. I was even more excited to hear the word “Paris” next to school’s name. I didn’t realize it would be “almost Paris”. But I think being a bit removed from the capital gives this place a feeling of close-knit community life. That has helped me a lot to adapt more easily.


How did Admissions help you prior to your arrival? What research did you do before arriving at HEC?

Afzal: Aracely and Hugo were my admissions contacts at HEC Paris, and they made my life very easy regarding documentation support prior to our arrival. The admissions team provides all necessary paperwork for visas and other formalities that makes the process fast and easy. It was the covid era and though the process in my home country Pakistan was complex, the admissions team was always an email away for any help we needed.

I was in touch with a few current students before joining the school and asked them questions about housing, accommodation, and other formalities, etc. We needed documents translated to French for different purposes and the current students were very helpful in guiding us before we landed in Paris.

Ramsha: I felt we were treated as part of a new family when Afzal got his admission. The HEC Paris Partners Club arranged a session for partners of incoming students to answer our queries and we were added to a dedicated WhatsApp group. I remember Agustina and other partners living on campus guided me in my transition to Campus which was very helpful.

The boys in the family room

Where can a family with children expect to live on campus and what support and facilities are available?

Afzal:  For students coming with partners, HEC Paris offers two types of accommodation – one that is ideal for couples, and another this is ideal for couples with kids. We live in the larger apartment, which has a nice small living room with another small bedroom, a kitchen, etc. I think it’s a decent space for a small family to live, and I would really recommend living on campus to stay connected with other HEC Paris families and students and enjoy campus life.

Ramsha: There is a very nice, spacious family room on campus where access is restricted to students with partners and kids. The family room is equipped with a kitchen, toys, and other amenities for children of all ages. It’s an amazing place to relax and unwind. You can hold get togethers and birthday parties and even work there while your kids play indoor games. Besides the family room, partners can also use other sports facilities like the tennis court, basketball courts, gym, etc.  One perk of living on a large campus with lush green gardens and lakes is that you can have picnics or outdoor activities with kids and other student families whenever you want (weather permitting).  The campus is walled with good security protocols in place. Access to campus and all facilities is restricted through student or partner’s ID cards only.

Do your kids go to school or daycare here? How do they like it?

Afzal: We have two boys Umar (age 6) and Raahim (age 2) who have become true Parisians by now. Before coming to HEC, my eldest son was going to kindergarten and his smooth transition was a concern for us. There are three schools in Jouy-en-Josas. I got information about documentation and other formalities from current students with families as well as HEC Paris administration and the Partners Club. Once you apply for admission, the local town hall or ‘mairie’ as they call it, will assign your child to one of the three schools depending on seat availability. My son was a fluent English speaker and knew no French when he joined his class. But after one year, he now corrects my French pronunciation. 😊

Ramsha: The local schoolteachers are very nice and helpful. There are a few other HEC Paris MBA students’ kids going to these schools and teachers engage them well in class. The first few weeks are challenging because of language issues but eventually kids start learning the French language.  Some of the teachers know English as well and thus communication is not very difficult. I did not send my 2-year-old to daycare but there is a facility available in Jouy-en-Josas and some working partners send their young kids there.

Afzal & Ramsha soak up the sun at the MBAT

What have you found challenging for your family during your time in the MBA?

Afzal: The first two terms (the core phase of the MBA) are very demanding in terms of course load and other academic activities. Maintaining a balance between Academia, MBA activities, searching for internships and family time is delicate and tricky. The final two terms (the customized phase) give you relatively more cushion to spend time with family alongside your MBA. But I think this is part of the deal, given the exposure and amazing experience for us and our families.

Ramsha: As a partner, I think it is imperative to understand the objective of being here in the first place. MBA studies, networking and searching for jobs demands time, so Afzal has been very busy this past year. But this has taught me to be more independent and manage my routine more effectively in terms of time management and other responsibilities. Besides, getting used to a new lifestyle and mingling with so many nationalities and cultures was a learning experience in itself.  And a sunny day never felt so special back home where we were used to seeing it 350 days a year. 😊

Family outing to Galeries Lafayette

What about opportunities to get off campus and shop or sight-see?

Afzal: Campus is connected to Paris through buses and Train (RER). Besides public transportation, there are university buses that run between campus and Paris every day. The shuttles run more frequently on weekends. We have our own car this term which has made life easier as a family, but most students use public transportation which is totally fine and comfortable. From the Palace of Versailles to the Eiffel Tower, there are numerous opportunities for sightseeing in and around Paris. I made a list of places to visit when I joined the program. Whenever I get close to finishing the list, new places and opportunities pop up and the list grows.

Ramsha: I love shopping and there are two great shopping malls just 15-minutes’ drive from campus. We have done plenty of sightseeing in and around Paris. A lot of museums in Paris have free entry on the first Sunday of each month. So be like a Parisian and seize the opportunity! 😊 A big plus is that there is a large supermarket just across the street from campus.

Dinner with friends in the family room

What has your family learned from this 16-month experience?

Afzal:  Apart from my MBA and academic learning, I think this 16-month journey has truly shaped my personality. I feel like I’m more open and thoughtful to things happening around me. Embarking on this journey has been more rewarding than we thought in terms of our learning and exposure as a family.

Ramsha: It has definitely been a beautiful journey! We have learned a lot about our own hidden strengths and potential to shine. I have made so many new friends from different countries and cultures. From Japanese curry to Indian pav bhaji, our cuisine is now reflective of the diverse friends we have made during our time at HEC Paris.


For more information on coming to HEC as a family, please reach out to your assigned Marketing and Recruitment Manager. If you’re at the very beginning of your HEC journey, you can get in touch with us and share some more information about your career and goals by submitting a Connect With Us Form here:  After this step, your Regional Marketing and Recruitment Manager will be in touch with you to provide some initial feedback.