Carolina Hurtado Arias did her exchange semester in Metropolia during the academic year 2021-2022 studying International Business. Her original exchange destination was Japan but due to Corona, it was postponed and finally canceled. She wanted to go somewhere very different than her home country Mexico. Carolina had heard good things about Finland being the “Happiest country in the world” and its education system and public transportation and was curious of experiencing it herself. Metropolia was her home university Universidad Panamericana’s partner and the choice was then clear.
After the acceptance Carolina did a lot of research on studies at Metropolia as well as on things to see in Finland. She was not nervous about coming alone to Finland: “I read that people can speak English very well and that Finland is a safe country to visit”. Upon arrival to Finland weather was the biggest shock: “It was so cold and a lot of snow in January! The daylight was also too short! This kind of weather does not exist in Mexico”. Also Finnish people seemed a bit cold and serious in comparison to Latin cultures but if you asked help for anything, people were always nice.
Study Experience at Metropolia
Some course topics in International Business were already familiar from home while some were completely new. Courses involved a lot of group work and Carolina got to work together with some Finnish students in addition to exchange students. Relationship between the students and teachers was very different than what she was used to: “In Finland we did not need to use any titles for the teachers and everything was more casual. Some teachers even took their shoes off when they came to the class to be more comfortable”. Carolina got to experience the specialty of University of Applied Sciences while doing a project in Corporate Financial Management, where they had to choose a company and everything that was learned throughout the course had to be applied to the chosen company. Deadlines for the end of the semester were given already in the first weeks and students were given freedom to work within these deadlines.
Free-time and Finnish Experience
Carolina was actively doing things during her exchange: “I rested only on five days. The other days I was studying and on free days I just checked the map and went to visit different places”. Carolina visited a lot of different parks and museums in Helsinki and traveled also around Finland in some bigger cities such as Lahti, Tampere and Turku. She also went to Lapland where the highpoint was swimming in the Arctic Ocean. Traveling to Baltic countries and Sweden was also very easy from Helsinki.
Carolina applied for a student tutor for Metropolia and said it was very helpful. Her tutor was helping her a lot in the beginning of her stay and they also became close friends and were hanging out together during her exchange semester.
Exchange semester in Finland was an eye-opening experience for Carolina. She got to see a completely different culture and see how different things are to her home country. Especially important was to see how universities in Finland can be accessed for free and how government is supporting students financially. Public transportation system HSL was also functioning very well: “Back in Mexico transportation system has no schedules and the driver decides if they want to stop or not”. Exchange semester also taught Carolina things about other cultures and how to communicate with different people in a different language. After concluding her studies in Mexico, Carolina hopes to be able to come back to Europe to continue her studies.
Tips from Carolina:
- Don’t be scared – Helsinki is a very international city and everyone seems to be happy to host you in their city.
- Don’t stop doing what you want even if you would be alone. You will find someone who is in the same situation as you and I am sure you will become good friends.
- Get out of your comfort zone!