In the beginning of this year, Proakatemia has welcomed two Swiss foreign exchange teampreneurs or, as we call them, “the Swiss kids”. Yann and Nicolas are from Team Academy HES-SO Valais/Wallis where they too study Entrepreneurship and Team Leadership. In this Spring semester, they will be joining team Flip to experience the team learning of Proakatemia. Let’s see how they have been feeling so far!
Answering one of the most important questions- why exchange?; why here?- both wanted to take the opportunities given and experience something different. For Nicolas it had been a wish for a long time to visit Northern Europe and get a taste of life here, however, Yann hoped to meet new people and see how entrepreneurs take action abroad.
Both had been very used to experiencing the more south-like interactions with people, therefore moving here brought some challenges. One of those was the small talk and random encounters with people. As Yann says: “If you don’t go to people, they won’t come to you. People here are nice, you just have to break the ice and give it some time.” Nicolas has had similar situations- especially when naming addresses, going through certain services, or at the shopping store, where you spend more time fighting the language barrier and translating all the labels than doing the actual shopping.
When it comes to expectations from the exchange, Yann wishes to experience more learning tools and approaches, since Finland is well-known for its unique educational system. However, he supposes that this is probably a matter of time since they have only been here for about a month. Nicolas, on the other hand, cannot wait to see the northern lights. As he admitted to himself: “I thought it is something that happens everywhere here, but it turns out that we have to be patient with those.”
Nature and culture are aspects that the “Swiss kids” are looking forward to experiencing even more. For example, ice swimming, going to Lapland, trying winter sports, or just enjoying some traditional Finnish food are a must on their bucket-list whilst here.
Although they have only been here for a month, Nicolas and Yann both keep their minds open when it comes to envisioning their future of, perhaps, even living here. They appreciate Tampere’s ways of being a city, but not losing the touch with nature, as well as keeping everything in a close, comfortable reach. Since these guys enjoy socialising, the challenging aspect of the pandemic might also have an impact when thinking about a future here. However, they admit how much they appreciate the lifestyle people have- more balanced food, working ethics, and taking care of the well-being in general.
Although the exchange journey in Finland had started quite slowly and stressfully- spending time arranging the accommodation or having no solid plan for the first weeks, the exchange teampreneurs have already had a few realisations and learnings here. They share that, when beginning a life in a new country, you don’t have a lot to do. You are not tied to anything. You wake up and you have nothing to do- no hobbies, no duties- it is almost strange. However, it also gives time to reflect. You can think- so what is it that I really like to do? Not just because I have been used to it or must do it because of obligations. “It creates my free time very productive since I can try new things and give possibilities a chance,” says Nicolas. “I am starting to really tap into my entrepreneurial mindset because I am not forced to do anything, but I feel that I want to- that’s why I’m searching and looking for opportunities. This opened my eyes that I actually want to be an entrepreneur and it’s not just because of the circumstances.”
As we have seen, exchange student life can get unpredictable at times. A few things they can suggest for others coming here are to stay curious, to ask questions, and to not shy away. Stay open-minded and don’t worry about not knowing what to do- it is in those times that they have learned the most.
After the interview with Yann and Nicolas, we also had a small pop quiz to test how much they know about Finland. I suppose that the highlight of it was them guessing that Patrik Laine is the inventor of Nokia, or that the Finnish national instrument is an electric guitar or tube. But, hey.. it is at these moments when we learn!
Thank you, Nicolas and Yann, for getting to know you and your experience as exchange teampreneurs in Finland a bit closer. Truly hope that the semester here brings you new inspiration and amazing memories.