Sasi Helin, a graduate from the Master program International Business and Management, shares with us why she decided to pursue a double degree with Kyung Hee University in South Korea, what internationality means for her and why the feeling of being at home is mainly a question of attitude.
Hochschule Osnabrück: Congratulations on your successful graduation from the master program International Business and Management! How does it feel to have finished the program?
Sasi: Thank you, it feels really great to finally graduate! It took me nearly 2,5 years to finish the dual master’s program, I’m so grateful for everything I got to learn and experience during that time, but at the same time I feel super excited to take the next step in my career.
You have graduated with a Master degree not only from Hochschule Osnabrück, but also with a Master degree from our partner university Kyung Hee University in South Korea, i.e. a double degree. Why did you decide to pursue this double degree?
I have always dreamed of having an international career. When I heard of the opportunity to study a dual master’s degree in Europe and Asia I got really excited and right away decided to go for it. I believe that the programs in Hochschule Osnabrück and Kyung Hee University offer a perfect starting point for an international career and give a chance to study a wide range of courses in a very international environment in both countries. Besides studying in two very different countries, the master programs were quite different. I think that the two master programs complement one another, and all in all are a great combination.
How did you like the studies in South Korea?
Studying in South Korea was very different from Germany. The methods were very different and courses had a slightly different focus, however, I think that combining the programs was a good idea as I got to study one year in both universities and experience both. The campus is huge and there is even a bus inside the campus taking student to different parts, the student life in general was more similar to the one from the U.S. etc. All in all, I really enjoyed the studies in Korea and really miss that time!
Which was your nicest experience you made over there?
Koreans are extremely hospitable, and the nicest experience was to learn more about the Korean culture. As an example, one day I was walking in the street and it started raining really hard all of a sudden. I didn’t have an umbrella with me, and while I was walking in the rain a Korean family (total strangers) saw me from their front door, ran after me and brought me an umbrella. They didn’t speak even one word of English, but were so polite, kind and welcoming to their country. They gave me the umbrella without hesitation, and without expecting anything in return.
What was challenging?
On the other hand, the Korean culture, especially in the university, was very competitive. I think that it was the most challenging experience and took some time to get used to. For example, the university uses comparative grading, therefore there is a limited number of each grade and you constantly need to compete against your course mates and try to be better than all the others. Where in Germany I got used to studying together with my friends and we shared our notes and knowledge, in Korea that didn't happen so often.
Would you like to work in South Korea in the future or can you imagine to work there?
For sure! I love South Korea and would move back there anytime. Actually I’m dreaming of moving back to Seoul sometime in the future. Even though the campus is located in Suwon, I was living in Seoul during my time in South Korea, and really fell in love with the city.
Finland, Germany, South Korea – what do you personally connect with these countries? Besides all differences, are there also similarities?
People talk a lot about cultural differences and often forget that people around the world share more similarities than differences, no matter where they come from. I think it also applies to Finland, Germany and South Korea! It was really easy for me to feel home in Germany, in the end of the day I feel more European than Finnish, and Finland and Germany share many cultural similarities. Germany has a lot of nature, people are friendly and the food culture is similar to Finland. On the other hand, Koreans are a small nation like Finns. Both, Koreans and Finns love sauna, have a cold and long winter and love nature. I felt home in both Germany and South Korea, and both countries will always be special to me.
Have you already gained work experience abroad?
I have done an internship abroad and worked in very international teams. I definitely want to pursue an international career where I could work abroad and continue travelling and getting to know people from different parts of the world.
How did your family and friends feel about the fact that you have been abroad for a long period of time?
They know how much I love travelling, and therefore always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and goals abroad. By now everyone is already so used to me being abroad, and no one really expects me to stay in Finland longer than for a holiday. As I have lived in several countries around the world I have close friends in many countries, not only in Finland. I try to visit everyone frequently and stay in contact on a daily or weekly basis.
Did you feel homesick at times?
Of course sometimes I miss my family, friends or Finland, but usually it’s just a short moment that will pass. I have always been a curious person who loves adventures and wants to experience something new, and in general don't easily feel homesick. As I actively stay in contact with my friends and family, I don’t feel homesick so often.
What does the term “home” (German: Heimat) mean for you?
For me “home” rather represents a state of mind than some specific location or place. I can feel home everywhere or nowhere. All in all, I consider myself more as a globetrotter, than a Finn. As I have lived in many countries around the world, each experience and culture has shaped the way I am today, and I don't feel completely Finnish nowadays either.
How did your time abroad change you?
I believe that after spending time abroad I’m more open-minded and tolerant, at least.
What does Internationality mean for you?
Internationality certainly means different things around the world. Us Europeans, have been very spoiled with all the opportunities and easiness to travel within the European Union, and it is easy to forget that it’s not a reality for most of the people in the world. I feel lucky to be born in the E.U. and nowadays internationality is a huge part of my life. I couldn’t imagine my life without being exposed to other cultures.
Do you already know what is coming for you next?
I definitely want to have an international career and I have always loved innovations and thinking about new ways of doing business or providing services. My dream job would therefore be in a startup company where I could get to work in an international team abroad within human resources or operations.
Why would you advise other students to gain experience abroad?
Going abroad during studies is the best investment for your future you can make! It is a great way of experiencing other cultures and meeting new friends from all around the world. It’s way different and way better to go abroad in an exchange program or internship than just for a holiday, as longer times abroad let you experience so much more. Besides all the fun, most employers appreciate international experiences and it can help you to stand out when starting your career.
Program coordinator International Business and Management
Phone: +49 541 969-3569
Von: Isabelle Diekmann