Reflections and learnings from BBA student's exchange period in France
Kasper Väisänen, a third-year BBA student, embarked on a transformative student exchange journey to France. In this post, he shares some invaluable experiences and key insights from his time abroad.
"I've always been eager to gain international experience. Even before commencing my BBA studies at Haaga-Helia, I knew I would be embarking on a student exchange. I firmly believed that immersing oneself in new environments and situations is crucial for personal growth. Venturing abroad to study in a different culture presents the best opportunity for such growth, especially in your youth. These experiences magnify themselves in the long term, providing you with an advantage that aids your development later in life. Serving as an exchange ambassador for Haaga-Helia was undoubtedly one of these valuable experiences!
I specifically chose France due to its rich culture and language. Being naturally curious and adventurous, I was determined to discover the beauty of this country for myself. Moreover, France's convenient geographic location meant that exploring other countries would be easily accessible, which aligned with my desire to explore beyond its borders. Given that the student exchange lasted only four months, it was an ideal fit for me both financially and in terms of time commitment.
My host institution, NEOMA Business School, located in Reims, is a private business school that attracts students from many countries. The city of Reims is also famous for its Champagne, which I took the opportunity to explore. The orientation was a highlight, providing a chance not only to meet fellow international students but also to connect with other Finnish students from Vaasa University. This created a strong sense of camaraderie, and since Reims is a compact city, getting to know everyone was relatively easy.
NEOMA offered an array of student clubs introduced at the start of the semester, ranging from basketball and football to singing. Being Finnish, one club in particular caught my attention – karting!
The Racing Team NEOMA hosted an opening day race for interested students, and I not only participated but emerged as the winner. Throughout the semester, they organized additional races, adding a wonderful balance to my studies.
Also engaging in activities like Champagne tasting and visiting local farms added an extra layer of fun to the experience.
Another significant aspect of my exchange was the opportunity to travel. This was undeniably the most eye-opening aspect of my journey. The world is vast, and filled with diverse and fascinating people to meet and learn from. During this time, my understanding and perspective on life expanded significantly, equipping me with invaluable skills in interacting with others. It reinforced the notion that we are all human, and fostering cooperation and mutual respect is paramount.
Amidst all of these experiences, embracing the idea of embarking on a student exchange was undoubtedly worth it. While it did require some effort (as is often the case), reflecting on the entire journey fills me with pride. I'm immensely proud of myself and my fellow students for seizing these opportunities. The investment of time and resources into this experience yields a lifetime of unforgettable memories.
So, if you're reading this and have the chance to pursue a student exchange, I wholeheartedly encourage you to take the leap. The rewards are boundless, and you'll look back on your decision with nothing but gratitude."
Text and photos: Kasper Väisänen