| 30.04.2024

"I am proud when I tell others that Hanken has a mandatory exchange"

The studies at Hanken are international in many ways, not least thanks to the unique mandatory exchange semester for all bachelor-level students. Meet four students who are on exchange in different parts of the world during the spring semester 2024.

Erica Niiniaho, National Chengchi University, College of Commerce in Taipei, Taiwan. Third year student at Hanken in Helsinki, majoring in Management and Organisation.

Erica Niiniaho står i solen på en bro.

"Having previously lived in Amsterdam and Sydney, I wanted to try something new, so I chose Taipei, Taiwan. The best thing about Taipei is that the city is quite big but it's still easy to get everywhere by bus. I live in a dormitory outside the city near the campus. The nature here is nice, I love hiking in the mountains and the food culture is very good as well!

The biggest culture shock so far has been the language as I don't speak Chinese yet. There is also a lot of noise here compared to Finland: the buses beep, the garbage trucks play melodies and there are people and music everywhere.

There is a wide range of courses here and I have chosen to study marketing, Chinese, political science and international relations. I have really enjoyed my studies! They are interactive as well as encouraging. My courses are only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and I still get full credits, but the days are long and busy.

The exchange has opened my eyes to more creative jobs in marketing. I have become more inspired to apply for jobs in that field. In the classroom, there's a culture of engaging in intellectual discussions, we bounce a lot of ideas around. I hope to maintain that culture when I return home.

My advice to anyone going on an exchange is to open your mind, look carefully at all the great options that Hanken offers and not be afraid to go to a country far away from home. All the administration works very well from Hanken's side.

I am proud when I tell others that Hanken has a mandatory exchange. The exchange ensures that everyone who has an education from Hanken really has an international experience. Being an exchange student is a completely different experience than living abroad, so I am very happy that I got this chance!"

Philip Höstman, University of Vienna, Austria. Third year student at Hanken in Vaasa, majoring in finance.

Philip Höstman står vid en hockeyrink.

"From the beginning I had a good impression of Austria and heard good things about the experience of being an exchange student here. Vienna is a culturally vibrant city; at every corner you encounter something unique. The country's central location makes traveling around easy. I've already been to Budapest and will later go to Albania. Austria is really quite similar to Finland, it surprised me that Austrians and Finns have so much in common. 

I like the fact that the University of Vienna is big, there are many different students to get to know, many events are arranged, and the university offers great services for us exchange students. 

I am studying business management in Vienna, so it is fun to broaden my education as I am majoring in finance at Hanken. For example, I am taking a very interesting course in decision and game theory, which is much more quantitative than the courses I have taken at Hanken. The course provides good skills when you want to make long-term strategic decisions. Perhaps the most challenging thing is that the course advances quite quickly.

Going on an exchange gives you new perspectives and I think you grow a lot as a person. Considering almost anything in the future, I think you benefit from your stay abroad. My advice to prospective students is to talk to others who have been to the same city or country. Once you're there, try as many different things as you can - and travel around if you are able to.

I would probably have gone on an exchange even though it wasn't mandatory at Hanken, but I think it's great that everyone is required to go. It also pushes those who may not be so willing from the beginning. It's good to get a more international view of the world."

Hanna Udd, IAE Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management in Aix-en-Provence, France. Third year student at Hanken in Vaasa, majoring in business management and organization.

Hanna Udd sitter på ett flygfält med sitt pass i handen.

"Aix-en-Provence was not my first choice but a friend who had been here on an exchange spoke highly of the university, so it felt good to come here and now I'm very happy! The city is like a French version of Vaasa, there are students everywhere. The city has a well-functioning public transport system and it's easy to travel to Paris, for example. Nothing beats a French croissant or pain au chocolat either!

The biggest culture shock has probably been the cheek kisses. As a Finn, you may not be used to being so close. Also, some French people - not all - can be quite unpleasant if you don't know French.

Since the university I attend is focused on leadership, there are similar courses here as at Hanken, but I have chosen courses with different content that complement my studies in Finland. The other students have given us a great welcome, they have helped us and made sure we understand everything about the courses and so on. We have three hours of lectures which took some time to get used to but now I think it's great. The lecture has an approximately 20-minute break when we gather in the cafeteria to socialise with the other students. The most challenging part of the studies has been that the lecturers give us assignments but explain very little, so it has sometimes been difficult to understand what to do.

After I graduate from Hanken, I would like to move somewhere in the Nordic countries and with this exchange, I have been able to test what it is like to come to a new country all alone and manage on my own.

My advice to anyone going on an exchange is not to worry too much. I was very stressed myself, but everything works out when you get there. The people at the host university are very willing to help with everything. Also, don't paint unrealistic pictures of what you think it will be like. For example, it is perfectly normal to feel lonely in the beginning. Keep an open mind because in the end everything will be fine!

I honestly can't think of anything bad about Hanken having a mandatory exchange. For me it means a lot, then you know that Hanken offers good support, both financially and a general support regarding all courses and processes."

Carl-Wilhelm Björkendahl, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Third year student at Hanken in Helsinki, majoring in finance.

Carl-Wilhelm Björkendahl står uppe på ett berg med utsikt över andra bergstoppar.

"I chose to go to Canada because I like to be outdoors, and the Canadian nature appealed to me. I hadn't visited North America before either, so it seemed like an interesting choice. The university I go to has only one place for a Hanken student so that was also a reason to come here, that I kind of have to find new friends.

The best thing about Canada, and perhaps all of North America, is the sports culture. At almost every university there are great sports facilities for tennis, swimming and basketball, for example. I've been to many games here, from ice hockey to lacrosse, which is the country's national sport. Vancouver is a multicultural city, and the university has a large number of international students, so that is also an advantage. It is of course a challenge to keep in touch with your close ones in Finland because of the time difference, so you have to take that into account.

At Hanken I major in finance but here I study all kinds of things like philosophy, HR and marketing. There is a nice sense of community in the courses, and I like that we discuss a lot during the lectures. Here we have to prepare more for the lectures than at Hanken, for example by reading articles beforehand.

The most valuable part of the exchange for me is probably meeting new friends and challenging myself a bit. I'm sure this will be useful, for example, when I apply for a job in the future.

My advice to those going on exchange is to try to do as much as possible during your stay, both in school and outside. For me, it's important to actively plan what to do on the weekends because the school week tends to be busy, and often, you don't consider your options until the weekend is upon you.

I believe one of Hanken's strengths lies in the fact that the exchange program is mandatory. Hanken is full of different types of people, some more social than others. I think it is especially valuable for those who are not so extroverted to go on an exchange and meet new people."

Read more about exchange studies here:
Exchange studies

Text: Jessica Gustafsson
Photos: Private