E-mail: Study Program: Exchange semester:

Study Program:
Exchange semester:
Academic year:
Host University:
[email protected]
Fall 2013
Hanken School of Economics
I have been studying at Hanken, School of Economics in Helsinki. This is the capital
of Finland. The city is one of the safest cities in the world and it is really clean. The level of
English of the Fins is really good; everyone is able to communicate with you. The city is not
that big, I found the size perfect since it was not too big or too small. The use of public
transportation is really easy. You can get a travel card and either load money on it or pay for
unlimited travelling. You can even get discount on this if you can prove that you are a student
from Hanken. The subway of Helsinki is the easiest one in the world; there is just one subway
that can bring you through the whole city. Hanken is located in the city center and really close
to a subway stop. You can walk there in 5 minutes. The most of the exchange students lived
in a place called ‘Rastilla’, which is a 20-minute trip from Hanken. Unfortunately, I did not
live at Rastilla since there were not enough rooms for all the exchange students. I found my
own apartment with the help of Hanken. My place turned out to be really good since it was in
the city center, so I could walk to Hanken and to the city center.
Hanken is pretty small compared to our university. Hanken only consists of two
buildings so there is no campus like we are used to. That is probably also the reason why
there is no student housing close to Hanken. We were with a group of 80 exchange students
and overall there are 2000 students. The two buildings are located in the same street so you
are always in time for your next lecture. A good part of the school is the food they offer.
Between 11 and 15 it is possible to get a lunch consisting of a salad, 2 drinks, bread and a
warm meal. With your student card you get a huge discount; you only pay €2,60! Since the
food in the grocery store or in a restaurant is so expensive, it is smart to grab some food at
Hanken. It is also nice to hang out with your fellow exchange students during the lunch. Next
to this they quite often serve typical Finnish meals like spinach pancakes, so this is a nice
opportunity to taste some Finnish food. The library at Hanken is good; you can borrow all the
books for the courses, copy them or read them in the reading room. This led to the fact that I
did not buy any books but instead borrowed them or read them at Hanken.
I took courses from three different areas: Management and Organization, Corporate
Geography and Entrepreneurship, Management and Organization. I made this decision
because I wanted to get a grasp from these different areas; they seemed interesting. Next to
this, Hanken excels in the Management and Organization area so I definitely wanted to get
some courses from that specific area. In the end, it turned out that I made a right decision
choosing these courses.
When you apply for Hanken, you will get your information around March/April (If
you go on exchange in the fall semester). This went all really smooth and they are willing to
help you in case you have problems. From this moment on, it is also possible to apply for
housing via HOAS. This is all included in the information you will get. Since Finland is
located within the European Union, there is no need to arrange a visa. Although, if you want
to travel to Russia, you will need a Russian visa. But, there is also a solution for this; there is
a ferry that goes to St. Petersburg and this trip is visa free but you can only stay for 2 days.
When everything was arranged before my arrival, it was time to leave the country (The
Netherlands) and go to my exchange country. When I arrived at the airport, Tuesday, there
was a tutor to pick me up together with 3 other exchange students. He travelled with us to our
apartment and showed us the way to Hanken. This was quite useful since the introduction
program already started the next day. This program existed of 3 days full of activities at the
university but also outside of it to get a grasp of Helsinki. We had a group of 20 exchange
tutors who were our buddies for the whole semester and they, of course, participated in the
introduction program. On Friday we did a city trip by bus and the guide was really useful
because she told us a lot of interesting things about the city. The tutors also organized a get
together and a welcome dinner. After these days we had a weekend off and the next Monday
the semester would start. This weekend was a perfect occasion to discover the city and getting
used to where you live.
I lived in Apollonkatu, which had a perfect location. I was really happy with it
although I did not live with the other exchange students. In the building were other students
so that made up for it. If you want to go on exchange to Finland, keep in mind that your
expenses will be higher than in the Netherlands. Everything is more expensive in the grocery
store, due to the fact that the Fins have to import their vegetables, fruit and meat due to their
own climate. The standard of living is equal to our own standard. Alcohol is one of the most
expensive products next to cigarettes in Finland so take care of this if you use these products.
There is a solution for this that will be explained later.
I would recommend attending as much trips as possible. The exchange tutors organize
these trips and they are really great. It is a good way of discovering neighboring countries like
Sweden, Estonia and Russia. There is also a trip to Lapland that is awesome. It is a 5-day trip
to Levi in Lapland, which is the biggest ski resort of Finland. We did husky sledding, driving
a snowmobile and the Finnish sauna (Taking a sauna and then rolling in the snow to cool
down). The cottages in which we slept were also great. It is also possible to see the northern
light, but you have to be really lucky. I was one of these lucky guys and it is a real experience,
something I will never forget. The trip to Tallinn, Estonia is also a real experience; we went
on a ‘party’ ferry since every Fin goes there to buy cheap alcohol and cigarettes. Next to this,
it is a beautiful city. It feels like you go back to the medieval age. I went to Russia with my
girlfriend and this is just something you have to do when you are there. The ferry takes you
there in 12 hours, you sleep on the ferry, and then you can spend the day in St. Petersburg.
The city is a combination of Russian and Western-European influences. I loved the city. Keep
in mind to get some Russian Rubles, since we forgot about this so we did not have any
money. Visiting Russia was something that was on my travel list so I’m glad I did it on this
Helsinki itself is beautiful and there is enough to do. It is well known for its two
churches, the white and the red one, it has an island called ‘Suomenlinna’ which is on the
UNESCO world heritage list and it has a nice shopping street. Next to this, Helsinki hosted
the Olympic games in 1952 and the stadium is still open for visits plus it has a watchtower,
which gives you a great view of the city and its surroundings. Also, for the ones who like
theme parks, they have quite a good one called ‘Linnanmaki’. I have been there myself and it
is quite different than regular theme parks since it is in the middle of the city center so they
had to be creative with the space that they can use. This led to some interesting roller coaster.
The theme park is free of charge so you can go there for a walk; you just need to pay for your
rides like on a funfair.
Helsinki also has its own soccer (HJK Helsinki) and ice hockey team, which is
definitely worth a visit. We went to a match from the national ice hockey team versus Russia
and it was a nice experience. Although the game is quite aggressive, the fans are friendly and
there is a good atmosphere, it is quite different than a soccer game where you always feel this
rivalry. We also went to a soccer match but the quality of the game was so low that it was not
that good. Next to these things, we also did the ‘normal things’ you do like you are used to in
the Netherlands. We went to the cinema, to a bar or had dinner with the exchange students. I
was also in contact with Finnish students that I met during my exchange. They invited me to
some of their parties and it was lots of fun. They just do the same as I was used, have some
chitchat and drink some beers while enjoying music. I was really glad that I had the
opportunity to meet the Fins, since they are well known for being a shy nation. I admit that
this is true, it is hard to get into contact with them, but when they accept you they are kind and
I did not experience a culture shock, since I think our culture and the Finnish culture
are quite equal. I think the Fins drink more, but the people are kind and helpful and are quite
enthusiast when you tell them you are not from Finland but just here for study. They really
want you to have a good time. Both cultures are individualistic, but I did not experience this
at my university. The Fins are shyer than we are, but when you know them better they turn
out to be really cool, at least in my case.
I promoted our university while talking to other exchange students about our
experiences at our universities. We also had an information fair at Hanken were we could
promote our universities. I attended this fair but since I had no accessories I just told them
about Tilburg and used my MacBook to show some pictures of our campus.
This exchange has learned me a lot, but I think it did not change me. Since there was
no real culture shock, it does not feel that I have changed. I learned a lot about myself and I
think personal development was the most important part for me, in hindsight. I learned more
about myself and since it was my first time living on my own, I also learned a lot about this.
Next to this, I learned a lot at the university from the courses I took. My level of English has
improved and I think I will be more international orientated now, which might be useful later
on in my working career.
At Hanken, courses are offered either in Swedish and English. Unfortunately I did not
follow any language course. I really wanted to take the Swedish language course but this
course overlapped with my other lectures, which I found more important. The Finnish
language course was to complicate, at least that is what the Finnish students said. I decided
not to take it and focus on my other courses. I took the courses Corporate Sustainability,
Corporate Social Responsibility, Entrepreneurial Business Creativity and Managing
Negotiations. I would really recommend the first two courses because they were really
interesting and completely different than any course in my own bachelor. For Corporate
Social Responsibility we even had to host an event about CSR, which I had never done
before. This was a real challenge; I was in a contact group so I had to take care of contacting
people to take part in the event. As an exchange student I had to call people from the
government of Finland and ask them if they would like to attend our event. I/we managed to
contact the Ministry of Finance and the minister of Finance attended our event.
The academic level is comparable to Tilburg University and so is the way of teaching.
There are lectures, seminars, group work and case studies. The biggest difference is that there
are not that much students in your class. During the lectures there are around 50 students in
your class and during the seminar there are around 20 students. I found this rather interesting
because via this way you can have more interaction with the teacher and you have the idea
that the teacher knows you. This is another difference; the relationship one has with the
teacher. They are really committed and happy to help. You can call them by their first name
or even nickname. They replied to e-mails quite quick and they even use smilies in their emails. I first found this really strange, I thought this was not really professional but then it
turned out that it was normal for this university. The courses I took were really good and I
finished them with good grades. It did not take all my time so the combination of studying
and doing fun things was good!
Since I did not took any exam, I can not talk about this but what I heard is that there
are no multiple choice exams like we have, but that they have exams with essay questions. If
you have an exam, it is even possible that it’s date is on a Saturday which I found really
weird, an exam in your weekend? This is apparently normal there.
I would recommend bringing your laptop to the school, since the amount of pc’s that
are available is not that big at Hanken. If you want a pc you either have to be really early or
stay until late. There is no ‘central’ library with computers like we have, but there is a library
without computers. The computers are located in so called computer rooms.
3859 Corporate
Course level
only 80 slots
Oral exam
3888 Corporate
From Principles
to Practice
Minor, Ba/Ma
6 ECTS in a
CSR course or a
letter from
university. Preexam, only 25
slots available
course with
each week a big
assignment with
a different CS
Best course I
took, you have
to organize a
CSR event at
the university.
Was amazing to
Interesting if
you want to
learn different
situations. You
apply them in
real life cases.
Lot of work.
Not to much
work, but a fun
course about
being an
entrepreneur. A
lot of real life
Overall, it was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Finland is a nice
country and the host university was great. Without any doubts I would recommend an
exchange period and especially at my destination. Make sure you have enough money,
because you do not want to miss a thing and unfortunately it is quite expensive. But well, just
keep that in mind and you will have a great time. I did add some pictures of my exchange and
a YouTube video of our sledding in Lapland.
Picture 1 Me at Suomenlinna and the view of Helsinki
Picture 3 Typical Finnish architecture in Helsinki
Picture 2 Amazing view while we were Husky sledding in Lapland