On December 20th, 2016 I graduated as a bachelor of business administration after three and a half years of studies at Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK). It has been difficult for me to believe how fast time went and that I have actually graduated. In the beginning I wasn’t certain that I would continue these specific studies till the end. That’s why I’m so proud of myself and of this achievement. Hence, I decided to create a blogpost for anyone that is interested in studying International Business at HAMK.
Let me start from the beginning, meaning the spring of 2013. That’s when the last year of my studies at upper secondary school were going on and I had to decide where to apply next. During the whole study year I had attended events were current university students were telling about their studies and how they made the decisions on what to study. I couldn’t see any interesting career paths; however, I got excited by a presentation, which was about studying in English. If you didn’t know, the official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish.
As I had no idea on what to study next, but I was interested in English studies, I ended up checking the bachelor degrees taught in English. I made a conscious decision of limiting my search to universities of applied sciences, because I didn’t see myself as a university student. I also wanted to keep on living at home, at least for the first year of my studies, which limited my search even more. That’s when I found a town of Valkeakoski, which is rather close to my hometown, Hämeenlinna.
In the end I applied for three universities of applied sciences, which offered International Business studies. To be honest, I wasn’t interested in business at all, but I was eager to study in English and in a cross-cultural environment. Moreover, I believed that business studies are useful no matter what you end up doing in life. I did apply for a similar degree taught in Finnish language and also a degree related to health, but I knew those weren’t meant for me. My main goal was to continue studies directly after upper secondary school was over even though I didn’t know what I would like to study as I didn’t think I could solve this question during a cap year.
It was a HUGE surprise for me that I was accepted as an International Business student at HAMK, because I didn’t have an optimistic feeling after the entrance exams. When I received the email about being accepted, I was in shock, because it meant studying in English. At that moment I trusted in my written English, however, I was slightly scared of speaking it.
On September 1st, 2013 the studies started with multiple lectures. I remember the day being rather sad for me, because I didn’t feel like I belong there. It was all very overwhelming. I don’t know how to describe the feelings that I had during the whole autumn semester. I bought the student card only for the first academic year, because I didn’t believe that I would last so long. I’ve never been a quitter due to which I forced myself to continue the studies and aim towards good results.
On the positive side, I loved the multicultural atmosphere. My classmates came from various countries; China, Vietnam, Russia, Kosovo, Slovakia, Kenya and Canada, which was cool. It was interesting to hear their stories, learn about different cultures and simply to get to know them. Of course, the cultural differences generated some problems during group work, but hey, those are called learning possibilities. Naturally, some people just don’t click, meaning that group work was easier with some people no matter what their background was.
You can have many opinions about the teachers, but I don’t have anything negative to say. I think it’s good that people have their own ways to teach, because it creates variety. Moreover, students have varied ways to learn, so it would be unfair if every teacher followed the same pattern. For example, our marketing teacher connected stories with teaching, our management teacher valued self-learning highly, and the other management/law teacher believed in laughter during lectures and one teacher enjoyed connecting technology with studies. Of course, the common feature was group work in their courses.
What comes to the courses, the first year was full of basic studies related to business functions, professional English, marketing and accounting. During that time we also had to decide our major. We had two options; global marketing and global management. I went for marketing without any reason. As said earlier, I didn’t have a passion for business studies. Some of my classmates were so passionate and motivated by business, which increased my insecurity. Luckily, I also met people who had some doubts about these specific studying being meant for them.
The second year was rather easy for me, as I started it by conducting a four months long Erasmus exchange in Thessaloniki, Greece. I have written multiple blogposts about it in the past, so I don’t repeat too much. It was an experience, which taught me a whole lot about myself, but not so much study wise. It’s not because I would have been partying all the time (as I simply don’t go to clubs or bars), but because the English teaching capacity of the professors was rather limited in Greece. Moreover, the courses that I was supposed to have were cancelled, so I had to find replacements. Erasmus in Greece wasn’t a good experience for me, but still a memorable one. I wish I could have gone to my first option, but as the universities were renewing the co-operation contract, I ended up in Greece. If you want to study, I don’t recommend Greece! If you want to party, then Thessaloniki is the right place for you!
When the third year started, I had come to terms with my studies. I knew I would finish no matter what. The autumn semester went quickly, but when the courses of spring semester started, I was surprised. We had to think of our thesis, but that’s not what surprised me. I attended two courses: organizational development and change management, which truly opened my eyes. I didn’t do that well in the exams, because I’m more of a doer than an essay-writer. There was a combined project organized during three courses, human resource management being the third course, which I didn’t have. There I got to do a project with a lovely and super talented German double degree student. Everyone kept on saying how difficult the project was, but I enjoyed it a lot. Because of this project being so fun, having such an amazing teammate and reaching a great end result, I felt like I had done the correct decision, when I applied to HAMK.
This feeling helped me with my thesis project, which wasn’t as difficult as people said. I created a social media marketing plan for a local hotel, which wanted to increase customer awareness through social media. The topic wasn’t that difficult to decide on even though my interest had already shifted towards management. Finding the theory, conducting the research and writing down the results wasn’t that difficult. I could even say that I enjoyed this process. When it came to the recommendations, the challenges began. However, I overcame those, which meant that the final thesis seminar wasn’t that challenging. I even had only my PowerPoint slides to rely on, meaning that I had come a long way with my presentation skills and courage to speak in English. I’m happy with my thesis, but I know it could have been even better, if I had a topic that truly motivated me.
When the studies ended, I was relieved and proud of myself, because I felt like a winner. On the other hand, it was sad, because I had just started to enjoy the studies and feel like I belonged there. I don’t really regret anything, because it was I and my personality which prevented me from doing things. I can only ask questions from myself. Would I have more friends if I lived in Valkeakoski? If I moved there I could have met my classmates outside of university. Do people think that I don’t want to spend time with them due to me not attending any parties organized by student union? It would have been against my nature to go to a club, because even though I sometimes drink alcoholic drinks, I hate places with loud music and I dislike dancing. Moreover, I was rather shy during the first years of the studies, which meant that I didn’t start so many conversations even though I enjoy talking with people.
Anyway, the studies at HAMK gave be knowledge above the International Business courses. I learned about myself, I grew as a person, my English skills enhanced, my cultural knowledge grew and I made some hopefully lifelong connections. I still wish the feeling of belonging happened earlier during these studies, because I bet many situations would have been different. On the positive note, I can consider master studies in the future, after I gain work experience that is.
To sum up, you can only win if you study in a cross-cultural environment!
|Happy graduate of business administration.|