| 10.05.2022

On exchange in Finland: “Hanken was my first choice”

Flexible credits, cooperative group work, informal academic culture, and the beauty of winter – four exchange students share their impressions of studying at Hanken during the spring semester.

Luc-Vincent Lauper, Switzerland

Luc-Vincent Lauper
Luc-Vincent Lauper

“I wanted to visit Scandinavia on exchange and Hanken was my first choice,” says Swiss student Luc-Vincent Lauper. He came to Finland to study quantitative finance as part of a Master’s Degree from the University of St. Gallen.

Hanken offers the courses in computer science, business intelligence and econometrics that Luc-Vincent was looking for, while the Finnish credit system gives him the flexibility he needs to complete his degree.

“I like how students in Finland are on a first-name basis with their teachers, whereas in Switzerland you always refer to teachers by their title and surname,” he says. “The more informal Finnish approach really helps with student-teacher interaction. One of the professors here even offered me a job as a data analyst at a fin-tech startup.”

Luc-Vincent has been experiencing as much as possible of Finnish culture during his exchange, including taking a trip to Lapland and visiting one of Helsinki’s traditional public saunas.

“I think the highlight was Lapland. The landscape, the light and the snow cover are so different to Switzerland,” he says. “The sauna experience was very different too. Back home if you go to a public sauna, it’s more sterile. But in the one we visited in Helsinki there were probably 50 people, with everyone talking in the sauna and drinking in the locker room. It was a memorable experience.”

Charlotte Taglioni, France

Charlotte Taglioni
Charlotte Taglioni

French citizen Charlotte Taglioni says she was ready for the Finnish climate after living in Canada, where she studies at the HEC Montréal business school.

“People have always told me that the education system is great in Finland, so Hanken was one of my first choices,” says the third-year marketing and project-management student. “Everyone who comes on exchange to Helsinki ends up loving it here. The Exchange Committee takes really good care of us, organizing a lot of trips and other events.”

Due to the Covid situation, many of Hanken’s classes have been online through the spring 2022 semester. But Charlotte and the other exchange students say they’ve still been coming to the campus for social interaction and to study in groups.

“One thing I’ve really appreciated about Finland is just how much the students work together and help one another,” she says. “It’s been so rewarding to experience another education system and contrast it with the approaches I’m used to from Canada.”

Yuxuan Liu, China

Yuxuan Liu
Yuxuan Liu

Yuxuan is in her second year of finance studies at Nankai University in Tianjin, a city of some 14 million people just 100 km from Beijing. As with the other exchange students, she’s noticed that the academic culture and pace of studies are more relaxed than back home in China. 

“The whole atmosphere here is more casual. Finnish people are really nice and they seem to have less stress in their lives than my peers back home,” she says. “For example, I have 14 courses per semester in China – here I had only seven. The workload is not necessarily easy at Hanken, but the content is structured in such a way that it’s fun to learn.”

It’s Yuxuan’s first time in Europe and upon arrival in Finland in January she found the climate difficult to adjust to. But trips to Lapland and elsewhere have made the experience worthwhile.

“When I first arrived, I was surprised by how the sun sets at 3pm. It’s amazing how in this kind of climate it can even snow in April,” she says. “But I was lucky to see the Northern Lights in Lapland, and I’ve also traveled to Amsterdam, Brussels and Stockholm to make the most of my time here.”

Tòn Consul Vivar, Spain

Tòn Consul Vivar
Tòn Consul Vivar

Tòn is from Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees and studies business administration at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. A former elite ice skater who moved to Canada as a teenager to train, he wanted to replicate the winter experience in a Nordic setting so chose to apply for an exchange semester at Hanken. 

“Studying entrepreneurship and Nordic organizational models helps one to understand why Nordic companies are famous for their ways of working,” says Tòn. “One thing that’s great about Finland is that everyone speaks English. I think it’s the only country I’ve been to where it’s like this.” 

Tòn says there is a big contrast between the academic setup at Hanken compared to what he’s used to in Barcelona.

“Here at Hanken we do a lot of group work where you’re scored with weighted averages that account for more than half the grade. In my school we also do group work, but your grade does not depend on the others so much,” he says. “I also feel that people often get really good grades at Hanken – at my school it’s almost impossible to get a nine!” 

Tòn is now looking for a summer job in Finland and would stay even longer in the country for the right opportunity.
Text: Andrew Flowers
Photo: Jessica Gustafsson