Week 2: Orientation and First Week of Classes!

En route to class!

Part 1: Had my first Aalto University School of Business orientation today! I was so nervous at first but later I realized that I had nothing to be worried about. I walked in and sat next to a girl who coincidentally was from the US, California! We talked for a bit and met some other students from Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, and Canada. It was so nice to be there because everyone was so excited to meet the Americans! I guess the European stereotype of Americans isn’t so accurate anymore 😉 We sat through a few hours of presentations about the schools services, new course options, how to register for exams and so on. The funniest part of the presentations was when the student groups presented. Every single group said “we have parties”, “we like to party” or “we have weekly drinking nights”. It was so funny for the exchange students because it’s like the Finns expected us to just party. After, we broke into groups of about 8-10 students which were prearranged and met with our exchange program leaders called tutors. Our Tutors gave us a tour of the Helsinki campus, took us to lunch and then a little tour of downtown. After my first orientation I was quite optimistic about the semester ahead!

Part 2: Aalto University has three periods within its Spring semester. So I’ll be taking at least one course each period. My course is Integrated Marketing Communications. I loved the course instantly after my class! The professor is quite young and teaches the material in creative ways. The classes here are quite similar to classes in the U.S. as in there is a professor who lectures about different topics related to the coursework each class. Attendance and participation for my class is mandatory. There is little coursework and majority of the grades here are exam based.

Now on to part 2 of the orientation! Today, we listened to a British Finnish professor who comically lectured us the cultural difference between Finns and other people. I seriously couldn’t stop laughing! Throughout the middle of his spiel he also told us he was a part time comedian. One interesting activity he had us do tested the way we listen and understand what we are told. Everyone was given a sheet of paper and then told to close their eyes. The professor would read aloud instructions on how to fold the paper and when to tear parts of it. At the end of the activity we were told to open our eyes and unfold our papers. It was amazing to see that every single person had a different design in to their paper! It was also interesting as he could different countries papers together we were able to see how similar a single country interprets directions. For example, my paper design was grouped with other Americans designs. Our designs were different yet most similar together than any other country! This was true for mostly all the countries present. I was amazed at this experiment!

After the orientation in the evening our Business school had held a welcome party. We were served champagne upon arriving and told about our upcoming trips to Lapland, Stockholm and Russia! An interesting part of college life here in Finland is student overalls. Yes, I mean like actual overalls that you wear! Very Sydney buys one and is given a badges to glue on their overalls after attending events. The overalls are also color coordinated by the college that students is in. So, since I’m in the business college my overalls are army green. I’m interested to see people wear and to collect my badges! Afterwards, we socialized with other students and tutors and ended the night with drinks at a club downtown. That ends week 1 of student life in Helsinki!

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