First success stories in trade: SMEs being active in Southern African market – this article also in Finnish

Project SME Aisle organized its second business delegation trip for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in April 2019. During the two weeks of travelling, the team and the companies visited Namibia, South Africa and Zambia. Altogether 31 companies from Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia participated in the trip.

[The article in Finnish: Jos haluat lukea suomenkielisen version, vieritä juttua alaspäin.]

These companies represented following sectors: maritime and logistics, automation, ICT and renewable energy. The delegation trip was the biggest of its kind in the project until now.

SMEAisle_DelegationApril_SummaryPoster
Our delegation trip to Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

It has only been a year since the project began, but remarkable results have already been achieved among SME Aisle SMEs. Some of the SMEs have proceeded to sales as some are still searching for their ideal partner. In addition, the business delegation trips have created cooperation between the participating Central Baltic companies as well as friendships. What kinds of solutions are the companies offering to the Southern African markets and what were the results of the delegation trip? These themes will be discussed in this blog.

Namibia: first sales and auditorium full of interested participants

Auditorium full of participants interested in SME Aisle in a business workshop in Windhoek Namibia.
Auditorium full of participants interested in SME Aisle in a business workshop in Windhoek Namibia.

For SAMK, the lead partner of the project, Namibia is a familiar place for business activities. SAMK has years of experience in working with Namibians and due to its geographical position, Namibia is in the focal point for trade activities. Thanks to years of cooperation, the project staff has wide networks in the country and it is possible to find potential partners for cooperation.

During the trip in Namibia, the companies got familiar with presenting their products and services in a new business environment and met interested local companies and actors. The first business workshop of the delegation trip was organized in cooperation with the Embassy of Finland and as a result, the auditorium was filled with interested participants. In addition, SME Aisle organized a workshop in Walvis Bay in cooperation with NAMPORT.

In Namibia, the success stories in our project so far include for example solar panels, virtual tourism and automation technology to improve efficiency at the ports.

South Africa: getting to know local maritime training and smart housing

SME Aisle organized a workshop and brought together stakeholders at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
SME Aisle organized a workshop and brought together stakeholders at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

In Cape Town the project organized a workshop together with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Afterwards, the companies got a chance to learn about local maritime training at the university and at the local port. The companies also visited a smart house by the Finnish company Honkatalot. The smart house is designed to use less energy by using special building materials and methods. This housing project is a good demonstration of a building project actualized solely without external funding.

South Africa is one of the biggest and developed markets in Africa.
South Africa is one of the biggest and developed markets in Africa.

Among the solutions provided by the SME Aisle companies, interest has been showed especially towards ship design, port operations enhancing technology, and broadband availability. South Africa is one of the biggest and developed markets in Africa and thus, competition is hard in many sectors.

Zambia: Possibilities in agriculture, ICT and renewable energy

We arrived in Lusaka at six in the evening, but the darkness surrounding us was surprising. Zambia is a developing country in which infrastructure is expanding in full speed nevertheless. People are welcoming and warm. However, climate change affects the income generation of many, especially in the agricultural sector which is the biggest sector in the country. For example, climate change affects cultivation through increased periods of drought.

During our delegation trip, the Embassy of Finland in Lusaka organized a Finnish Business Week in Zambia. We participated in different seminars, workshops and company visits. One of the main events was the local Agritech Fair in Chisamba, approximately 70 kilometers from Lusaka, in which our project staff visited for two days. Even the president of Zambia honored the event by visiting the Agritech Fair.

H.E. President of Zambia Edgar Lungu visited the Agritech Fair and Nordic Pavilion. SME Aisle company presenting their products to the president.
H.E. President of Zambia Edgar Lungu visited the Agritech Fair and Nordic Pavilion. SME Aisle company presenting their products to the president.

China’s influence in Zambia is remarkable and in Lusaka one may witness several different construction projects led by China. In some sectors competition may thus be hard, partly impossible. Of the products and services offered by SME Aisle companies, especially ICT technology reducing the use of water in cultivation, a new kind of fertilizer in cultivation, solar panels, mobile phones and construction raised especially interest among stakeholders.

Lessons learned to date and next steps

The trip proved that business in the target market requires in-depth information and the right contacts. If the company fails to map the target market carefully, it might face some surprising challenges including problems in import regulations and tendering. Coaching is an important aspect when building the export readiness of the companies. This coaching will be the next step of the SME Aisle project. Coaching includes getting to know the business environment, finding the right business contacts and introducing themes especially requested by the companies such as interpretation services.

Read more about the project and its upcoming events

Text and photos by: Nina Savela

Ensimmäiset menestystarinat viennissä: pk-yritykset aktiivisia eteläisen Afrikan markkinoilla

Projektimme SME Aisle järjesti toisen pienille ja keskisuurille yrityksille suunnatun delegaatiomatkan huhtikuussa 2019. Kahden viikon aikana matkustimme Namibiaan, Etelä-Afrikkaan ja Sambiaan. Yhteensä 31 yritystä Suomesta, Ruotsista, Virosta ja Latviasta osallistui matkalle. Yritykset edustivat merenkulkua ja logistiikkaa, automaatiota, ICT:tä ja uusiutuvaa energiaa. Delegaatiomatka oli projektin mittavin tähän asti.

[Yhteenveto julistekuvassa heti englanninkielisen jutun alussa]

Projektin alkamisesta on kulunut ainoastaan vuosi, mutta siinä on jo saavutettu merkittäviä tuloksia. Osa projektin yrityksistä on edennyt toivottuihin kauppoihin nopealla aikataululla, osa etsii vielä ideaalikumppania liiketoimilleen. Lisäksi sivujuonteena matka on poikinut yhteistyötä yritysten välillä sekä ystävyyksiä. Millaisia ratkaisuja hankkeen yritykset tarjoavat kohdemarkkinoille ja mikä oli matkan anti? Siitä kerromme seuraavaksi.

Namibia: ensimmäisiä kauppoja ja auditorio täynnä kiinnostuneita

[Kuva: Auditorion täydeltä kiinnostusta SME Aisle -hankkeen seminaarissa Windhoekissa, Namibiassa.]

SAMKilla, hankkeen vetäjällä, on useiden vuosien kokemus Namibiasta ja maa on projektimme keskiössä. Namibiassa löytyykin useamman vuoden pohjatyön ansiosta laajat verkostot sekä halukkuutta yhteistyöhön. Matkalla Namibiassa yritykset totuttelivat tuotteidensa esittelyyn uudessa liiketoimintaympäristössä sekä tapasivat kiinnostuneita paikallisia yrityksiä ja toimijoita. Seminaari yhteistyössä Suomen suurlähetystön kanssa poiki auditorion täpötäyteen kiinnostuneita. Lisäksi projekti järjesti Walvis Bayssa seminaarin yhteistyössä NAMPORT:in kanssa.

Namibiassa projektimme yritysten menestystarinoihin kuuluvat tällä hetkellä muun muassa aurinkopaneelit, virtuaalimatkailu sekä automaatioteknologia satamien tehostamiseksi.

Etelä-Afrikka: tutustuminen paikallisen merenkulun koulutukseen ja älykkääseen rakentamiseen

[Kuva: Kapkaupungissa teknillisessä yliopistossa SME Aisle järjesti seminaarin ja toi yhteistyötahoja yhteen.]

Kapkaupungissa projekti järjesti seminaarin paikallisessa Cape Peninsulan teknillisessä yliopistossa. Tämän jälkeen yritykset saivat tutustua merenkulun koulutukseen yliopistolla ja Kapkaupungin satamassa. Yritykset pääsivät myös vierailemaan suomalaisen Honkatalot Oy:n älytalossa. Älytalon ajatuksena on vähentää energiankulutusta asumisessa käyttämällä erityisiä rakennusmateriaaleja sekä rakennustekniikoita. Rakennusprojekti on hyvä esimerkki täysin ilman valtion tukea rahoitetusta projektista.

[Kuva: Etelä-Afrikka on maanosan suurimpia ja kehittyneimpiä markkina-alueita Afrikassa.]

SME Aisle -hankkeen yritysten tarjoamista ratkaisuista kiinnostusta herättivät erityisesti ratkaisut liittyen laivasuunniteluun, tehokkaisiin satamaoperaatioihin sekä laajakaistan saatavuuteen. Etelä-Afrikka edustaa Afrikan kehittyneimpiä ja suurimpia markkinoita, joten kilpailu on kovaa monella sektorilla.

Sambia: mahdollisuuksia maatalouden ratkaisuissa, ICT:ssä ja uusiutuvassa energiassa

Saavuimme Lusakaan illalla kello kuuden aikaan, mutta pimeys yllätti meidät silti. Sambia on edelleen kehittyvä maa, jossa infrastruktuurin kehityksessä otetaan edistysaskelia kovaa vauhtia. Ihmiset ovat lisäksi vastaanottavaisia ja hyväntuulisia. Ilmastonmuutos kuitenkin näkyy useamman paikallisen elinkeinossa, kuten maataloussektorilla, joka on maan suurimpia sektoreita. Ilmastonmuutos vaikuttaa viljelyyn muun muassa lisääntyneenä kuivuutena.

Delegaatiomatkamme aikoihin Suomen suurlähetystö järjesti suomalaisen liiketoiminnan viikon Sambiassa. Osallistumme erilaisiin seminaareihin, työpajoihin sekä yritysvierailuihin. Paikalliset maatalousmessut (Agritech expo) ovat suuri tapahtuma Chisambassa, noin 70 kilometrin päässä Lusakasta. Projektimme osallistui näille messuille kahtena päivänä. Saimme esimerkiksi vieraaksi maan presidentin.

[Kuva: Samibian presidentti Edgar Lungu vieraili maatalousmessuilla pohjoismaisella yhteisosastolla. SME Aisle -hankkeessa mukana oleva yritys esittelee tuotteitaan.]

Kiinan vaikutus maassa on merkittävä ja Lusakassakin on nähtävissä erilaisia Kiinan vetämiä rakennushankkeita. Joillakin sektoreilla kilpailu on täten kovaa, osittain jopa mahdottoman kovaa. Yritystemme tuotteista ja palveluista kiinnostusta Sambiassa herättivät varsinkin ICT-teknologian käyttö maanviljelyssä resurssien kulutuksen pienentämiseksi, uudenlainen lannoite maanviljelyssä, aurinkopaneelit, matkapuhelimet sekä rakentaminen.

Projektin ja delegaatiomatkan opetukset tähän saakka ja seuraavat askeleet

Viimeistään matkan aikana tuli selväksi, että liiketoiminta kohdemarkkinoilla vaatii perusteelliset tiedot kohdemaasta sekä täysin oikeat kontaktit. Mikäli yritys ei ole kartoittanut kohdemarkkinoita huolella, voi se kohdata yllättäviä ongelmia esimerkiksi maahantuontiin liittyvässä lainsäädännössä ja kilpailutuksessa. Oleellista on myös yritysten valmentaminen, joka onkin projektimme seuraava vaihe. Valmentamiseen kuuluu perehdyttäminen liiketoimintaympäristöön, oikeiden kontaktien luonti ja myös muu yritysten toivoma tuki, kuten tulkkaus.

Katso lisää tietoa SME Aisle -projektista ja ajankohtaisista tapahtumistamme (englanniksi)

Teksti ja kuvat: Nina Savela

Trying something new: Have you heard about lacrosse?

Protective gear. Men use helmets, women usually use the goggles. SAMKARIT blog post samk
Protective gear. Men use helmets, women usually use the goggles.

I knew very little about lacrosse before we were asked to do a project about it for the students of Rauman lyseon lukio. I had only seen it played a few times in an American TV-show in fact. So, this project, in cooperation with students from SAMK and from Rauman lyseon lukio, gave me the opportunity to learn not only about how to put up an event but also about this sport.

Lacrosse is one of the oldest sports in the world having roots with the native Americans. It is a contact game played with sticks that have a net in the end. The object is to throw the ball into the opponent’s goal and score more goals than the other team. It is also the national sport of Canada.
Rauman lyseon lukio has a partner in Canada and they wished to learn something about the country before their study trip there. What better way than to try the national sport?

A chance to try lacrosse

We started our project with a short promotion event at the school in Rauma where we had some information available about the sport and the event in order to get the students interested. Lacrosse is not that well known in Finland and many have no idea what it is about so we thought some basic information would be useful. The main event was held in the football hall in Rauma and lasted one and a half hours. There were about 25 students present.

Students waiting for instructions for the next drill. SAMKARIT blog
Students waiting for instructions for the next drill.

The equipment and instruction were provided by Markus Mattila, a 25-year old lacrosse player from Turku Titans. He has played the game for 9 years and said he started like most Finnish lacrosse players start, he changed games from hockey to lacrosse. He instructed the students with some exercises on how to use the lacrosse stick and how to throw the ball. Everyone got to try some moves and have fun.

Interviewing the instructor

While the students were trying some moves, I had a little interview with Markus about his hobby and future plans. I asked how long he has played

Markus Mattila Lacrosse player,SAMKARIT blog
Markus Mattila

and how he got interested. He told me that lacrosse players in Finland start pretty late, usually around 16 to 18 and often after having played ice hockey. Some hockey teams play lacrosse during the summer season and players who for what ever reason can’t continue with hockey sometimes change games to lacrosse. Markus said he turned to lacrosse when continuing hockey would have required him to move.

According to Markus lacrosse has been played in Finland since 2001 and we have men’s league, women’s league and junior league. The popularity of the sport has been growing over the years. The Finnish Lacrosse Association lists six lacrosse clubs. But quality over quantity. Finland is doing quite well internationally in the sport. The men’s national team has gotten third in the European championships in 2016. 2018 World championship games were held in Israel with 46 countries and Finland coming up as 15th. Finland has also hosted the European championships of box lacrosse in 2017 in Turku. Box lacrosse is the indoor version of the better-known field lacrosse.

Lacrosse sticks, SAMKARIT blog
Lacrosse sticks

Markus is going to Canada for the summer to play lacrosse and has interest to play professionally. It’s a long-term plan, he says, and we will wish him good luck for that future. The box lacrosse world championships are held in Canada in autumn 2019 and according to Finnish Lacrosse Association webpage Markus has been chosen as the team captain.

Our main goal was to give a fun opportunity for the students and learn about organizing an event and I think we achieved that.

Our team of SAMK students (from left to right) Jasmin Nurmi, Ira Heino and Sam RobinsonSAMKARIT blog
Our team of SAMK students (from left to right) Jasmin Nurmi, Ira Heino and Sam Robinson

Text: Ira Heino
Pictures: Ira Heino & Sam Robinson

 

 

 

 

This project was a part of our studies in the degree programme in International Tourism Development. We had three members of our class working on this with two students from Rauman lyseon lukio. All three of us are first year students and the project was related to our course about event management. These kinds of projects are a fun and a practical way of learning, and in SAMK we do projects starting right from the beginning of our studies.

Japanese students’ winter school will be soon again in Rauma – here’s a #tb to 2018

Winter School 2019 is soon here, in Rauma. In this text we look back to the winter school a year ago. The story is written by our students.

SAMK Rauma hosted Winter School 2018 for four Japanese students from Osaka Gakuin University, Japan. Winter School was held in cooperation of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki. The students spent one week in Rauma (24.2.-3.3.2018). It was an interesting experience all-around for both parties and the week flew by accompanied by unexpected experiences and turns.

Day one was full of sports

First, JapaneseStudents Winter School SAMK Rauma 2018we went to see a Finnish baseball match, and after that we went to Merijakamo to take a stroll on ice. The Japanese students experienced Finnish winter at its fullest: cold, crisp wind, ice, snow, skiing, and ice fishing. Our stroll was a rather short one though and we later warmed ourselves up at our local Finnish fast food restaurant Hesburger!

Amazingly, the students were excited about Citymarket. We spent at least 20 minutes at the toy aisle, and marveling at the vast selection of different candies. Finally, we went to see a floorball match and ended the day on a good, although busy note.

Day two we started with lessons on Finnish culture and language

We learned about the similarities of Finnish and Japanese. We also visited the Maritime campus at Rauma, and the Japanese students got introduced to simulators and attained general knowledge about navigation and the systems involved in it. We had pizza for dinner, and the Japanese students were quite shocked to see how enormous the pizzas in Finland were!

After pizza, we attended a Japanese class at Adult Education Center to give our guests a taste of Finnish students learning the Osaka Gakuin students’ native tongue.

Day three was too cold for our original plan

Day three was too cold for our original plan, which was winter fun, so we decided to bake apple pie and relax. It was delicious! After baking, we spent the afternoon having a little trip to the local mall.

Day four  we spent outdoors

Day four, however, we spent outdoors. First, we had a tour in Old Rauma. After visiting church and museum, we continued our trip to Latumaja, where we had fun in Finnish style.

This was the first time the Japanese students tried sled hill and pole sled with some slight mishaps. After that, we warmed up in a hut grilling sausages and drinking warm berry juice. We ended the day with swimming and sauna in the pool area of the Maritime campus.

JapaneseStudents Winter School SAMK Rauma 2018

We started the fifth day with bowling

We started the fifth day with bowling soon after we woke up to get in a good mood for the remainder of the day. For lunch, we decided to make some homemade hamburgers for lunch with the leftover ingredients we had. After we were done with lunch and cleaning after ourseleves we headed to Pori; first we visited the Pori Campus and met Pepper the robot!

We were also able to experience VR and many more technical wonders, including 3D printers. In Puuvilla shopping center we managed to pass our time by going out to a Mexican restaurant and splitting up for a short shopping spree, as the Japanese students had seemed fascinated by shopping malls and even general stores. And after rushing against the clock the day climaxed with a hockey game between Ässät and Saipa, accompanied by enthusiastic fans’ cheers.

JapaneseStudents Winter School SAMK Rauma 2018 Isomäki Hockey

On day six…

On day six, the Japanese students gave us an interesting presentation on Osaka, Japan, and Osaka Gakuin University. After the presentation, we started preparing for the International Night where we were meant to entertain and feed approximately 20 students from different countries. Thankfully nobody came in empty-handed and we managed to experience several different cultures’ delicacies.

JapaneseStudents Winter School SAMK Rauma 2018 Intl Food Fiesta

The night proceeded smoothly with party games and sampling multi-cultural treats. Finally, the party ended with the somewhat wacky introduction of a Finnish children’s dance “Sutsi satsi”. The night was tons of fun and our guests were happy to get to know people from different countries, for example, from Germany, Austria, China, and Vietnam.

The final day came sooner than we had wished

The final day came sooner than we had wished despite the week having been somewhat hectic. We met for the last time at the bus station before the students headed to Helsinki. It was a bit sad that they had to leave, but we promised to see each other again in the future. We hope they enjoyed their trip to Finland and to Rauma under our wing!

We want to thank Hiro, Sae, Shinya, and Kazutaka for coming to Rauma! We had so much fun with you! And, naturally, we look forward to seeing you again!

Katri, Jenna & Jaakko

A cultural complex student enters Shanghai Slush

I am a Chinese student and came to Finland in 2010. After that, I settled in Pori and started studies.

I have lived in China for more than 20 years. I was aware of the business culture and a certain business model of the industry which are the past of China. But in the days of living in Finland, time made me seem to be derailed with many things. Therefore, I am not afraid, I went back to school to start learning, and decided to apply for the opportunity to communicate with the world. Because of the experience of Finland and China, my Shanghai Slush volunteer application was passed quickly.

Shanghai SlushSlush is a non-profit platform for high-tech entrepreneurs, companies and investors worldwide because of its global influence, especially in the entrepreneurial circle. In September 2018 in Shanghai, I was fortunate to get funding from SAMK, witnessed this charming event and interviewed Slush founder Peter Vesterbacka.

 No hidden potential and demand

My volunteer work at Slush Shanghai was responsible for a sponsor’s booth. I did some homework because I wanted to complete the interview task. How to interview them in a limited time? Why do they give me a chance? In fact, when I was fortunate enough to get in touch and communicate with Slush’s founder Mr. Peter Vesterbacka, I found out that the Slush platform gives each participant unlimited potential.

mmexport Shanghai SlushEspecially if you have done enough homework to participate in the entrepreneurial competition organized by them, the attention will be even higher. If you want to find a job, it is also possible. When Mr. Vesterbacka knew about my experience in China and Finland, he enthusiastically recommended me to work in the field of interest. I am flattered, and I admire this highly effective way.  I do not want to show off what I had, but I want to share with you that my experience is that courage is not enough; it’s more important to clearly express what you need, and do that in a short time. I promise, this gentleman who is good at discovering the potential of others, will immediately share to you all the resources around.

Courage and communication

Peter Vesterbacka lived in Pori, which is a western city in Finland, when he was young. Partly because of our Finnish ”hometown language” greetings, I was fortunate to have a good interview with him. Mr. Vesterbacka has a good insight into the education industry. For a person who has acquired the Finnish education, I deeply agree with him. The Finnish high-quality pedagogic is worth promotion to the world. After the speech, we had a short conversation.

Calm and silence

After the work, although it was only three days with Slush, it took me several months from excitement to calm down. Those inspiring entrepreneurs made me feel that it is not difficult to start a business. The hard part is how to get out of my own path. “Create the new acceptance” was the theme of Slush Shanghai 2018. Creation and innovation, no matter which industry you care about, even if it has nothing to do with high technology. No doubt, embracing technology, the combination of technology and real-life scenarios is the trend of future business.mmexport Shanghai Slush

The hard part is how to get out of my own path.

For the future exploration and observation, I think I will not stop because of confusion. Thank you to  SAMK and Slush giving me energy and wisdom along the way.

Finally, if you want to start a business, Studying in SAMK and focusing on the Slush platform is a good start.


 

By: Yan Zhang
Photos by: Yan Zhang

Observer,

Entrepreneurship  degree programme, aiming to
Bachelor of Business Administration (SAMK)


 

Our unforgettable NIBS case competition journey

The road to representing SAMK for the NIBS 2018 case competition in Guatemala was a special journey for all of us. We started this journey half a year ago with a qualifying course and no expectations. We had just the goal of doing the best job we possibly could and see where it would take us. After about 6 weeks’ hard working and dedication we exceeded our expectations and qualified to represent SAMK.

We began the strenuous preparation for the RICC case competition taking place in the wonderfully diverse and modern city of Rotterdam in November. RICC provided us with a tremendous learning opportunity and gave us confidence in our abilities as we improved after each and every presentation.

Arriving at the airport, we were welcomed with warm hugs and smiles, which we were totally unfamiliar with coming from the Finnish culture, but which grew to enjoy throughout the week.

Despite leaving Rotterdam without a win we were convinced of our abilities to compete with top students around the world. After RICC we took home the valuable lessons learned during the competition and immediately began to train harder than ever to provide the best possible solutions to any case we might face in Guatemala.

SAMK NIBS team fligt to Guatemala

The Guatemalan experience

Participating in NIBS in Guatemala was an entirely new experience, despite the similar procedures of both competitions. Arriving at the airport, we were welcomed with warm hugs and smiles, which we were totally unfamiliar with coming from the Finnish culture, but which grew to enjoy throughout the week. Everyone was incredibly cheerful, friendly and helpful whether it was during the official competition or just when we were hanging out.

The time difference was a hindrance, but it didn’t stop us from exploring the beautiful city of Guatemala during our first few days of arrival. With the assistance of our ambassador, we learned a lot about the cultures, the local food as well as the magnificent landscapes within the city. Hiking up the volcano and sliding down the soft sand was, definitely, an experience of a lifetime, which we wouldn’t have had the chance had it not been for NIBS and the amazing volunteers from Universidad del Istmo de Guatemala. Also, the busy nightlife of the city was very different than in Finland. It is really astonishing to see the streets full of customized buses, a unique feature of Guatemala.

The competition

The trip to NIBS has been the trip of a lifetime combining leisure and exploring with tough competition and learning. As much as we relaxed and enjoyed the incredible and breathtaking environment the first days, just as hard we worked during the competition. We went into every competition hungry for a win and just as great it felt when we on our 2nd day of competition finally got our first win over London South Bank University. 6 months of hard work culminating into one moment that none of us will ever forget.

SAMK NIBS Team
SAMK NIBS 2018 team members with their coach in Guatemala.

The competition taught us to develop creative solutions to real business scenarios and present them in a convincing manner. Furthermore, the competition truly challenged our teamwork skills as well as tested our ability to perform under intense pressure. As NIBS vice president Robin Richie mentioned in his speech in the opening ceremony, the feeling of walking to the presentation rooms before presenting the solution is an unparalleled mix of emotions that words cannot describe. The walk is a feeling that all competitors will face during the competition and one that can only be fully understood by those who have experienced it.

Money can’t buy a trip like this where every feeling is felt

Money can’t buy a trip like this where every feeling is felt, limits are pushed, great work is a reward and learning comes faster than in any other place. All this while being in the scenery which mostly looked like a paradise.

Text by the team: Alex Dyer, Mathias Hansen, Thanh Nguyen & Karin Turunen

NIBS2018_Guatemala

As trainee in Department of International Affairs in FH Aachen

Me, master degree student Ms. Janika Reunanen from Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) had an amazing January 2018 in the FH Aachen, Germany.

Background

Right now, I’m studying my final part for the Master of Business Management: the thesis work is going on for my workplace SATAEDU, Satakunta Educational Federation, which gives vocational education. I work as International coordinator in SATAEDU and organize about 70–80 ERASMUS + mobility periods for vocational students with our international contact persons every year.

First, I would like to thank Ms. Satu Schrey, International Relations Coordinator at SAMK. She gave to me  tips and ideas where to go! We started to plan my exchange in May 2017.  I chose FH Aachen, University of Applied Sciences, which has every over 13,000 students and about 120–130 of them as exchange students abroad every academic year. Moreover, there are about 100 incoming students in the faculties. The city of Aachen is located very nicely if you want to travel there by  car from Finland and take your lovely family (husband and two kids) with you as I did…

The city of Aachen is located very nicely if you want to travel there by  car from Finland and take your lovely family with you

In FH Aachen

In FH Aachen Ms. Linda Weller organized a great program for me. She works with supporting of exchange students. She also gives consultation on exchange programs in Europe and on scholarships. Furthermore, I could meet all the wonderful members of the department of International Affairs. They organized even a lovely family day for us. Ms. Sabine Brinker invited us to her home for a brunch. After that we had a pony riding in the woods with our kids. I am so grateful for everything that you did – Thank you!

I will develop mobility periods for vocational students in Sataedu.

For my thesis, I had a very interesting meeting with Ms. Nathalie Kazma, the Head of the Department of International Affairs and ERASMUS+ University Coordinator. She was one of my interviewees, and I was very impressed about her work. I had, of course, a pre-made interview document that I used. In my thesis I will develop mobility periods for vocational students in Sataedu.  (I got excellent tips for interviews from my thesis supervisor, lecturer Mr. Kimmo Kallama at SAMK).  With the interview document I could have versatile and interesting discussions also with other experts: with Ms. Linda Weller from the Campus Aachen, Ms. Jennifer Janas from the Business faculty and with Ms. Britta Ritzal from Campus Jülich.

Janika Reunanen and Britta Ritzal.

I made interviews, and, I could have even a day with the mobility tool “MoveOn”! It is the electronic system which FH Aachen uses to run their incoming and outgoing exchange students. On the last days of my exchange, I could benchmark also the ERASMUS + outgoing financial support in the FH Aachen.

I summarize my exchange with these marvelous photos from Germany… I really had a great month in FH Aachen and I recommend for every Master degree students to go abroad!

I recommend for every Master degree students to go abroad!

 

Text by: Janika Reunanen (on the right), Master degree student, SAMK, Pori, Finland

PS. Special thanks for all the advice goes to information service assistant Elina Laineenoja at SAMK!

 

Erasmus, 30 years of success

Article by
Thomas Chirossel

The Erasmus program is one of the things created by the European Union that students adore. Erasmus has largely contributed to the construction of the European university system (Bachelor-Master-Doctorate), which has been implemented since the Bologna Agreement in 1999. The aim was also to counterbalance existing spontaneous mobilities which, without organization, led to a brain drain in Europe.

In this article I will focus on Erasmus people in Pori, Finland in the autumn 2017 and see how they feel about this experience and how it could help them in the future.

Erasmus and employment

Since its creation in 1987, the Erasmus program has aimed at attracting 10% of the students in Europe. However, they didn’t expect to see this number increased by a 25%.

Erasmus is well-known for its capacity to employ people who have used this program. It’s also a huge asset to those who have experienced that because they can have a better adaptation capacity in the professional world, especially if they would like to work abroad.

According to National Statistic Institute, the Erasmus program increases the employment of the  students, decreasing the unemployment risk in the European Union by 2,5.

Erasmus, a kind duck in a controversial program?

Since the Brexit, an increasing number nationalists think that the European Union is not strong enough to support all our countries and that it’s ruining the economies.

In fact, all European treaties are based on Liberalism which means that everyone can compete against the others (economically). Every contractor wants to be the cheapest on the market and tries to reduce the production costs. For that, there is a big solution: relocation. This process causes unemployment in some countries.

This example is one of the reasons why some people want their countries to get out of the European Union. However, the European Union brings with it also a lot of good things, such free mobility, a stable currency and different kinds of programs, Erasmus as an example.

In fact, without the European Union, these types of programs wouldn’t have been created. Today, more than 5 million people have been lucky enough to study abroad and discover different cultures thanks to this program.

Let’s see how exchange students in SAMK have experienced their adventure in Pori.

Interviews of exchange students

A couple of these lucky people studying on the Erasmus program in SAMK, Pori were willing to answer some questions about the Erasmus program and their time spent in Finland in autumn 2017.

Elsa Cuirassier, a 19-year-old student in SAMK Business
Tours FRANCE

Erasmus program is a huge opportunity to secure a job after our studies because it allows us to increase our professional network and to be more open-minded than other people. Moreover, improving one’s skills in another language contributes to opening ourselves to the world and that is what recruiters love.

We’re lucky to be in Europe and to get the opportunity to leave our home country so easily and spend a year in another one. For example, the funds we can get from the state are very useful compared those received by students not coming from a European country. Besides, partnerships created between universities are various and well-founded.

Why did you choose Finland?

In fact I didn’t have the choice (laughs) because there was only this country where English was well-spoken. The other option would have been Spain, but I wanted to improve my English. However, I don’t regret at all because I wouldn’t be here without the Erasmus program.

What do you think about your life here in Pori and in SAMK?

First of all, it was very easy to get settled because the International office managed well this thing and took care of the accommodation and administration. Besides, the tutors were so nice with us and helped us when needed, so that was awesome. Here in Pori, the university is crazy, because everything is new and we have a lot of materials and facilities such as screens in rooms, a gym, a canteen, and so on. However, I don’t like the courses here in Finland, because they are not interesting and I have a feeling that I am not learning anything.  But the relationships with teachers are very nice compared with France.

Some people are scared of leaving their home and going to another country like  you have done. What would you say to them?

Get away from your comfort zone because yes, we might be scared but the best things will happen in the future and we have to dare knowing how good it could be.

What will you miss from this adventure?

Kindness of the Finnish people, they are helpful and respectful. I will miss the landscape because it’s a very nice part of Europe. But the thing I’ll miss the most is friends I’ve meet here.

Now, let’s have a different point of view and tips about this life. Wu Zemin, a student from China will give us his remarks about it.

Wu Zemin a 21-year-old student in SAMK Business
Hong-Kong CHINA

As for me, I didn’t come here with the Erasmus program, because I’m not  European. However, my home university has a partnership with this university (SAMK), and this is another program between our two schools. When I saw this, I applied for it so that’s why I’m here. However, compared to you we don’t have funds from the state, we have to handle it on our own.

Was Finland  your only choice?

Of course not, we have got several choices and it was up to me, I chose what I wanted. I chose Finland because there were big countries, famous countries which are quite the same as my home country so I wanted to discover something else. Finland, in my opinion, is totally different from other countries so I wanted to experience a different lifestyle.

What were your main difficulties here in Finland?

The weather is really different but for me it wasn’t a difficulty. Yes, the winter is cold but not as much as I expected, maybe because we are not too deep in the winter so I can manage it, but I wish luck to the people who’ll stay for a year (laughs). The language isn’t a barrier  to me because everybody speaks English. Maybe the worst thing is the night. We only see the sun for 4-5 hours, that’s crazy. This is a new way of life.

Some people are scared of leaving their home and going to another country like you have done. What would you say to them?

I think it is important for everyone, that if you want to learn another language, master it better, you should go abroad. If you are afraid, it proves that you need to practice. You can enjoy your life only discovering new things, otherwise it’s just routine.  For me, going abroad has been the best experience I’ve ever had.

What will you miss from this adventure?

I think I experienced everything I wanted but I will miss the friends I met here. Everybody was so nice with me, they are all my brothers now.

To finish the interviews, Alejandra Moya, a nursing student from Spain answered some questions.

Alejandra Moya a 20-year-old student in SAMK Nursing
Malaga SPAIN

The Erasmus program is a very good experience to meet people from every part of the world and try to survive alone without your parents and  without help, on your own.

Do you thing it will bring something to you in the future?

Open-mindedness,  the improved language skills and the ability to see how people work in different countries. It gives us a global idea of  the different markets in the world, so that you can adapt easier to other cultures.

Besides, it’s very easy to travel with the Erasmus program because the state gives us funds. I have a general grant, just like everyone from the Erasmus program, and then my district, Andalousia, gives us an additional payment.

What do you thing about Finland and SAMK, your university here?

I think people here are respectful and treat exchange students really well, they take care of you, they help you withi everything especially in the beginning.

What were your main difficulties here in Finland?

There were difficulties in the hospital when I was doing my placement because of the language barrier with patients. Everyone speaks Finnish and I couldn’t understand anybody else except for my tutoring nurse. Luckily, as said before, to facilitate the situation, the teachers and tutors were very involved with us.

Some people are scared of leaving their home and going to another country like you have done. What would you say to them?

To go abroad,  you need to know yourself and know that you can survive alone without your parents, your friends, your home but if you think you’re able to do that, it’s the best experience you could ever have.”

What will you miss from this adventure?

Of course the people I met here and the way of living which is totally different from what I am used to. But we are adults now, we have to live on our own, it’s really useful.

 

 

Inspired by Seville – A Mosaic of Cultures

Internationalization is a common challenge to all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Europe. The importance of welcoming the world to our institutions is unquestionable, being no more an option. Wanted or not, we’re heading for a vast and dynamic change. Actually, we are in the middle of it already. By being proactive, innovative and rapid, along with bold out-of-the-box thinking, we will succeed in this competition.

Institutional strategy defines processes and procedures during them. Internationalization (either emphasized or in minor role) is nowadays most likely one of the core actions in institutions offering higher education. As generally recognized, converting ambitious, strategy level goals and visions into concrete practice may appear a desperate job, with no clear priorities or starting points. Instead of just holding back (or on the other hand taking leaps too gigantic), the famous baby steps are needed. You just need to take them a lot, and now.

Over 6,000 international HEI experts from 95 different countries, enthusiastic to hear the latest news on the field of international education, participating sessions and workshops, greeting partners and networking – that’s what the recent conference of EAIE (European Association of International Education) was about in sunny Seville, Spain. In the time of digitalized communication, the joy of real human, face-to-face contact was tangible. During few hectic days, participants shared common issues and worries, as well as visions of co-operational possibilities, in a great mosaic of cultures. Here are some highlights of the participants of SAMK.

 

Tiina García: Embedded and cross-sectional internationalization, versatile marketing and lingua franca

Actions to develop internationalization must concern the entire organization and its mindset – it’s not just translating your websites or teaching in English.

Actions to develop internationalization must concern the entire organization and its mindset – it’s not just translating your websites or teaching in English. To create a holistic, international way to think and act, takes a deeper understanding of what internationality is about. In an educational context, this means not only pedagogical methods, but also management, research, projects, collaboration with industry and other stakeholders, administration, student support etc. We need to analyze all our functions with a loop of internationality: how sound are they really?

The new degree programme in tourism in SAMK will emphasize skills and knowledge required in international tourism environment. With Tiina García sharing their tourism programme experiences and expertise from the University of Málaga Maribel Romero Ruiz and Lilian Barranco Luque.

How do we let the world know of our existence? By diverse marketing. Our strengths usually are our best-selling points, and honesty plays essential role: rosy promises with a fragile bound to reality are doomed. Sure, we cannot change some less appealing facts, like harsh climate, high costs or remote location, but why not turn them into a positive experience and pull factors? Using references and testimonials of stakeholders, associations, partners, students, mayors or celebrities, more evidence and credibility is gained for international markets.

Using references and testimonials of stakeholders, associations, partners, students, mayors or celebrities, more evidence and credibility is gained for international markets.

Usually, internationalization in HEIs starts with incoming exchange students. In the world of higher education, the lingua franca is English. When applying English as a medium of instruction (EMI), there’s an enormous myth to break: teacher should speak perfect English. This, as said, is a myth, and here comes why: Teacher’s role is not to teach language itself, but to set an example for intercultural communication and international mindset. Surely a challenge that also needs open mind and positive thinking.

Marika Seppälä: Focus on the demands on engineering and engineers

Personally, the EAIE conference is always about sharing knowledge and ideas, empowerment by enthusiasm, partnerships and learning. Over the past years I have been privileged to attend this conference to maintain the partnerships and to consider our engineering education from a local and global perspective. This year I was able to host a session with a Belgian colleague Pina Cimino from PXL about the real-world demands on engineers. And why? Because looking at the job offers, engineering graduates are evaluated by a variety of skills, not only technical. How can an engineering programme ensure its graduates will meet the demands of the fast and changing labor market, when the majority of the universities still offer traditional technology-oriented education – that is the question. It is necessary to consider how to avoid overloading the curricula only with technical courses giving technical details, ignoring the employability skills. Now we are in the beginning of a process to start a network of interested colleagues from around the world to discuss and share ideas. Want to join?

SAMK in EAIE 2017
International co-operation in action: “How can engineering education meet the real-world demands on engineers?”. Session led by Marika Seppälä (SAMK, Finland) and Pina Cimino (PXL University College, Belgium)

Now we are in the beginning of a process to start a network of interested colleagues from around the world to discuss and share ideas. Want to join?

Alberto Lanzanova: Ideas, reflections and challenges: a foreigner’s view on internationalization

At first, as a newcomer to the EAIE conference, I felt overwhelmed by the massive amounts of people, thoughts and perspectives that such an event conveys. After sailing for a while – dazed and confused – in this endless sea of suggestions and views, I retrieved my compass and I found myself absorbed in a profusion of refreshing ideas.

International Coordinator of Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences describes study course ”Snowbusiness” as one of their international success.

Because of the nature and importance of the education field we are working in, I believe it is wonderful – and at the same time crucial – to meet people from all around the world and discuss about common matters. By comparing how different organizations and cultures address similar issues, we can acquire new fundamental knowledge, be prepared to new challenges and, at the same time, set ourselves – as an institution – in an idealistic map that shows our place in the unrelenting internationalization process the world is going through.

After returning from the journey and some days of considerations, I think it is good to be back where the “real job gets done”. As an international member of SAMK’s staff, I reckon that an event like EAIE could carry a hidden drawback within it: all the people attending are somehow predisposed to international activities, projects and collaborations. Bearing in mind this, the risk is to end up in a Turris Eburnea, an Ivory Tower that functions and operates just within itself, but does not have a reflection on the real world.

In my opinion, here lays the ultimate challenge: transfer and fulfill in our own world what we have seen, discussed and argued about, despite adversities and bumps in the road.

In my opinion, here lays the ultimate challenge: transfer and fulfill in our own world what we have seen, discussed and argued about, despite adversities and bumps in the road. Of course, in order to work, this view should be embraced on all institutional levels, but probably we – as International Relations Office – should set the example and influence the decisions making process because of our background and history. Who else could step in?

Satu Schrey: Our role as an international educator is important

The conference is already over, but hopefully it left all the participants motivated to reach out and be the change – being aware even more than ever before that the work we do every day with the students will inspire them to do the same. Our role as an international educator is important: internationalization, all kind of mobility including different kinds of exchange programmes enable students to meet new people and new cultures, which removes many barriers and increases cross-cultural understanding.

The old friend of Satakunta UAS, the Programme Specialist of Unesco Regional Bureau, Dr. Anasse Bouhlal describing the state of higher education in Arabic countries to Satu Schrey.
The old friend of Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, the Programme Specialist of Unesco Regional Bureau, Dr. Anasse Bouhlal describes the state of higher education in Arabic countries to Satu Schrey.

My main programme at the conference was to meet our partner universities’ representatives – just to discuss about e.g. the existing or potential cooperation, our partnership & agreements, and the new trends. The event – with more than 6 000 participants – gave me a chance to greet many other known colleagues, too, of course. In addition, I was proposed a couple of new interesting co-operation possibilities when exploring the exhibiting area thoroughly around – not to forget about many networking events during the week.

After attending a couple of sessions I know now something about the science of happiness: how to use positive psychology in international student guidance and another interesting session gave ideas for achieving better international engagement.

To sum up: Heavy schedule with many meetings plus interesting people in inspiring atmosphere. Felt so at home there again! <3

The writers participated the 29th Annual EAIE Conference and Exhibition in September 2017 at the Seville Conference and Exhibition Centre (FIBES), Spain.

Tiina García is a Senior Lecturer and Team Leader in Degree Programme in Tourism. Her responsibilities are team coordinating, curriculum design in the international project Boosted and IoC of the new international tourism study program ”International Tourism Development – Business and Wellbeing from Nature”, starting autumn 2018.

Marika Seppälä is a Senior Lecturer (Quality and Process Management, Management and Project Management), Team Leader of Energy and Environment as well as the faculty coordinator for international relations of the Faculty of Technology.

Satu Schrey works as an International Coordinator. Her responsibilities are Erasmus+ mobility agreements and general administration in student mobility.

Alberto Lanzanova works as International Relations Secretary and temporary Intercultural Communication teacher. Originally from Italy, his responsibilities concern student mobility, whereas his fields of interests are cultural studies and linguistics.

Interested to know more? Please contact the writer: firstname.surname@samk.fi

Communication, comics and chocolate!

The first International Week 10.–14.10.2016 in PXL University College in Hasselt, Belgium offered not only information but experiences from local chocolate factory to Corda Campus.

I was honored to get invited to Hasselt to lecture about communication by Mrs. Brigitte Luyten, PXL international relations coordinator. SAMK has a bilateral agreement with the college and I have co-operated with her before ­­­in student projects.

Jatka lukemista ”Communication, comics and chocolate!”