Stevia - Aalto University School of Business

B Business Management
Semester 2, 2018
Exchange was a surreal experience - something I often think back to, but am not sure if it was real or if it was just a dream.

Academic experience

During my time on exchange, I took elective courses from the Business Management program. By mistake, I the majority of courses I had proposed to my BEL Faculty were Master-level courses. However, after consulting with the academic supervisors at my host university, they told me the course was applicable to students who, at a minimum, have basic knowledge on the course. Thankfully, I was able to take the courses I proposed to UQ.

Personal experience

Exchange helped me in many ways - it opened my view on studying and friendships. Whilst studying overseas, I was able to socialise with students from all over the world who were motivated to learn. I quickly learnt that schooling in Finland was financially supported by their Government. Thus, students who attend university are those who were genuinely interested in learning. This inspired me every much.

Accommodation

My accommodation was taken care of by HOAS - a student organisation that manages student housing. The housing was off-campus as Aalto University did not offer any on-campus housing. HOAS is very strict with their applications and applicants - I heard many were rejected. I would say finding decent housing is quite difficult, however, I know many students also booked housing via Airbnb for the 4-5 month period.

Costs

Rent: $550AUD/month
Transport: $70AUD (depends on where you live, I lived in the CBD so did not spend much on transport overall)
Food: $550AUD/month (i mostly cooked at home and didn't eat out much)
Travel: $300/return ticket to flights around EU (2-4 day trips)

Challenge

The biggest challenge for me during exchange was managing everything on my own - as someone who lives at home with family in Australia, learning to be independent was a big hurdle. From the most simplest things like doing the laundry, washing dishes, cleaning the house etc. After a certain period of settling in, you really start to acknowledge that you are out of home and alone. I think making new friends and getting to know neighbours really helped me. You quickly realise, that actually, everyone on exchange or even those who live locally are in the same position.

Professional Development

Being on exchange gave me a push in life - physically and mentally. It forced me to cook and come up with new recipes (something I would have never done at home). It also helped me build resilience - mentally, since a lot of the problems you encounter, you have to personally overcome and solve them yourself.

Highlight

The highlight of my exchange was being able to meet and travel with new friends from all around the world. Especially going to a place so isolated from Australia like Finland, a lot of the people there were from countries I have never encountered before (despite Australia's diversity). So it was very interesting to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds - learning new things about their day-to-day life back home etc. Friends from exchange are people I know I'll forever cherish because when you think back, they were the people who were on the journey of experiencing new things with you. Its a piece of memory no one else had first-hand encountered - except from you and them.

Top tips

Aalto University is very friendly, welcoming and open. The local students there are very interested in exchange students. Although Finnish people have the image of being cold-hearted, once you initiate a conversation, you get to know that they are actually very warm and friendly. The exchange students at Aalto are crazy - they are wild souls willing to go on an adventure every day, especially to explore the many natural parks in Finland!