HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management

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1 Travel Report HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management Fall 2014 k93581

2 Leipzig is a city in Eastern Germany located about 200 km south from Berlin. When measured with population, the city is about the size of Helsinki. However, it has a small town feeling and feels like a smaller city than it actually is in reality. The city is very beautiful and lively and some have even called it the new Berlin. Preparing for the exchange Once I had been accepted as an applicant to HHL from my own university, I still needed to fill out HHLs own application online. The application included some questions about performance in the university as well as about working experience. This is because HHL also offers an MBA program. I also needed to send my picture and a motivational letter of why I wanted to study in HHL. Also a certificate for English proficiency was needed, which I got from the International Services in Aalto. Tina Januschewski, the person responsible for incoming exchange students, is a very nice, friendly and helpful person so do not hesitate to ask any questions if needed. I received the official acceptance to study in HHL towards the end of the spring. The preparation for the exchange was fairly easy. Because of the European Union no visa was needed. The only thing needed basically is the European Health Insurance card and a passport. The insurance card can be ordered online and if I remember correctly, it arrived in less than a week. The biggest issue for me during the preparation for the exchange was apartment hunting. Although in Leipzig there are a lot of apartments and rooms for rent, it is never too easy to find something from abroad. However, although I only started my search in July (I started the exchange in the end of August), I still had enough time to find a nice room. Regarding housing HHL did not provide much assistance. In fact, the university informed me that exchange students staying for only one semester were not able to apply for student housing. This turned out to be wrong and in the end a lot of my exchange friends ended up living in a student apartment. HHL got a lot of criticism about their assistance with housing so I would guess the future exchange students would not have any problems.

3 I shared a private apartment with two German girls. I found my apartment through WG- Gesucht (http://www.wg-gesucht.de), which I can recommend. The site is easy to use and at least for me there were a lot of rooms or studios to choose from. However because of the timing of the semester in HHL it might not always be as easy to find something, since most of the students renting out their rooms through WG-Gesucht would like to rent their rooms until for example March for the fall semester. Flights directly to Leipzig are quite expensive and there are no direct flights from Finland. Therefore I recommend to fly to Berlin and to take a bus from Alexanderplatz to Leipzig, if you re not too afraid to carry your luggage a little bit more. I bought my one-way ticket to Berlin around June and paid approximately 120 euros and took a train to Leipzig for around 20 euros. Of course to Berlin you can mostly find cheaper flights too. Arrival to Leipzig HHL instructed the exchange students to arrive to Leipzig by August 25 th. I decided to arrive a few days early, since from previous experience I thought that I needed time to take care of some things before the program started. In the end the orientation period was not that intense and I ended up having a lot of free time also then, so I would not say that it is necessary to arrive in advance. The orientation for international students lasted for two weeks, one week consisting of general orientation and the second week of German language classes. Especially during the second week of orientation there was a lot of spare time since we only had German class for 1,5 hours per day. In Germany there is a lot of bureaucracy, which shows also to exchange students. One activity of the first week was registration to City Hall, which is mandatory during one week of arrival to the country and one also has to unregister when leaving back home. Many also got a German bank account, since it was mandatory to have a German bank account when living in student housing. I came along with my Finnish one perfectly, so I can t really see a point I opening a bank account unless living in student housing.

4 Exchange studies As previously mentioned, the semester in Leipzig started with an orientation week for international students of August 25 th. Unlike in other universities in Germany, in which the semester normally is from October to March, in HHL the semester ended already on 21 st of December. Studying in HHL differed quite a lot from Aalto. First of all, most of the courses were though in intensive seminars. By that I mean that very often a course could only last for one week, but there would be lectures every day from 9am until 5pm plus homework assignments. Also teaching methods differed to some extent and the overall approach was a lot more practice-oriented. The workload in HHL might be quite heavy at times and especially the HHLs own students take their grades very seriously. Nevertheless, because of the intensive class schedules it is possible to organize the overall schedule so that there are also some free weeks. This was even a problem for some since for some people school did not really start before the beginning of October. In this case you have to be prepared to work relatively hard though since you will be having a lot of classes at the same time. All classes in HHL are offered in English. Exchange students can choose any courses they wish from both Msc (graduate-level) and MBA courses. The only problem when choosing courses from both programs was that they were often overlapping. Often it was said that Msc classes were a bit more challenging than MBA classes. The course selection in HHL is in general quite wide, but for example not so many finance and accounting classes are offered. Also since generally only 2,5 ECTS are gained per class, one has to take quite many classes in comparison with Aalto. HHL is focused on entrepreneurship and management so I can recommend attending those classes. Unfortunately I was not able to attend any of the entrepreneurship classes in the end since it did not fit my schedule. Attendance in lectures is mandatory. Here are the courses that I attended: MBA-SS-1 Problem Solving & Communication/Exchange (3,0 ECTS) Problem Solving & Communication (PAC) was a very intensive course. Normally HHL students take it as a first class of their studies in HHL, since it goes trough the basics of

5 problem solving & power point models expected to be used in other classes in HHL. For me, it was my last course in HHL in December. The course lasted only for three days and included an overnight assignment. The assignment was given only in the afternoon of Thursday and was due by Friday morning when we also needed to present our recommendations. This makes the class maybe a bit stressful because of the time pressure. The course for exchange students was held by a very nice visiting professor called Rusty Tunnard. There was no exam but the whole evaluation was based on the powerpoint presentation of the overnight assignment. All in all I thought the class was fairly easy in comparison with many of the other classes I attended. MSC-IM-5 Business Strategy (2,5 ECTS) Business strategy was taught by Professor Dr. Stephan Stubner and was of my courses the one with the highest workload. This class was ongoing for a longer time and it included an imaginary consulting project for a real consulting company. Also the grading was entirely based on this project. The course was designed so that the lectures covered the theory behind business strategy analysis and then the knowledge gained in the lectures was supposed to be applied in the strategy project. I am happy that I joined the class, since it gave some perspective to real consulting work and I had a good team in the project. However, I think that the lectures could have provided some more support in the execution of the project. I would not recommend this course unless you are willing to work quite hard on the project since also with my team we ended up spending some long night at the university with my team. MSC-IM/ES I-1 Managing Company Growth MSc11 (2,5 ECTS) This course was held by another visiting professor called Andrei Villarroel. The interesting thing about the course was the role simulation held in class. Before the simulation each of the students had been assigned into one role: entrepreneur, employee or investor. Everyone also got role descriptions describing what they are looking for. Then during the simulation the goal for everyone was to find what you are looking for in the market, for example an entrepreneur had to find the right investors and employees in order to be able to grow his or her business. After the simulation the scores for each of us success were given and discussed. The grading in this course was based on a role preparation write-up before the simulation and a reflection paper after the simulation. From my opinion the simulation was fun and interesting but the rest of the course did not give that much new

6 information. The teaching was focused on case studies of real companies and videos about inspirational entrepreneurs. However, most of the time the case studies were covered in a bit too much detail since everyone had already prepared answers to questions about the case study for the class. MSC-LS-2 Negotiation (3,0 ECTS) Negotiation was my favorite class in HHL and I would definitely recommend it at least if Dr. Remigiusz Smolinski teaches it. The professor was great, very experienced and had good real life examples to tell also. He was very into his topic and his teaching methods were good. The course was a lot more practice than theory oriented and we really negotiated with each other many times every day of the intensive weekend course. Based on the theory we were discussing, Dr. Smolinski would always give us a negotiation task normally pairwise with instructions and after the negotiation we would go through everyone s results and discuss what happened. I think that I learned a lot during the class and that some of the negotiation tactics will be useful also in the future. The grading was based on a negotiation case write-up, which was done in groups. The task was to prepare your own negotiation case that could be used as teaching material in negotiation classes. All in all the course was different, useful and interesting. MSC-LS-5 Business Ethics Exchange (2,0 ECTS) Business ethics was only available for exchange students since the goal was to have a discussion about the differences and issues in business ethics between countries. This course was a very positive surprise for me and it turned out to be one of my favorites. The course is taught by a nice older professor Dr. Andreas Suchanek. You could see that he was very passionate about his field of research, which always makes courses more interesting. After one theory class the rest of the course was held on a weekend in Wittenberg in a research center for business ethics. What made the weekend more interesting was Dr. Suchanek had invited two guests to join our weekend from the top of the German business world. They provided the discussions with interesting insight. Otherwise most of the program of the weekend was input from students. Each of us had to give a presentation about one controversial topic regarding business in our own country. We were a very international group, so I learned a lot from issues in different countries. The grading was based on a presentation as well as a paper that was handed in before the weekend in Wittenberg.

7 MSC-S-1 Corporate Strategy (3,0 ECTS) This course was the closest to the traditional courses I have used to in Aalto. The course was simply based on lectures focusing on theory of corporate strategy, two in-class assignments that were part of the grade and an exam in the end. I have not studied strategy earlier so for me this was a good core course to the basics of corporate strategy. Professor Dr. Torsten Wulff is very patient and a clear lecturer and provides some good insight through examples. I can recommend the class for beginners in corporate strategy. Otherwise the class might be slightly boring since the focus is a lot in the basics. MSC-S-2 Strategies for Growth (2,0 ECTS) This course was suggested to be taken together with corporate strategy and we were told that in the faculty they are planning on putting the two classes together. It was taught by Dr. Tobias Raffel and Dr. Torsten Wulff together. The class was a package of information about how companies can grow, why is it important to grow and what kind of issues need to be taken into account in the process. The best part of this course was the guest lecturers, for example one talking about the future of the automotive industry. Grading was based on two group assignments. I would suggest taking this course together with corporate strategy, since I think that doing so gives a more thorough picture of the topic. O16-1 German B1 (6,0 ECTS) I also studied German for one course during my time in Leipzig. The course was a bit difficult to organize regarding scheduling since in HHL the courses are very intensive and everyone has a different schedule. However, we were supposed to have German at least two times a week during the whole semester. This resulted in classes often also on Saturdays. Luckily professor Hellfayer was very relaxed and understanding if one could not make it to every class it was not a problem. All in all the class was so good because of a nice and funny professor. I can recommend taking German, since studying it while you live in the country will take your learning to another level. Free time, traveling and other information The weather in Leipzig was quite similar to Finland, only a bit warmer. Overall I really like the city. The center is quite small but beautiful filled with old-fashioned buildings and

8 completely free of cars. Also bicycles are not allowed to drive in some parts of the center. Leipzig has a lot of parks with good possibilities for running and rivers, which makes kayaking a popular hobby. There are also a lot of hip bars and cafés, the most popular bar street in Leipzig is called Karl-Liebknecht Strasse. The nicer clubs can be found in the city center, but overall the nightlife in Leipzig is student-friendly and relaxed. I lived in a shared apartment in an area called Schleussig on the West side of Leipzig. It is a nice area with pretty houses and a lot of families. The only bad thing about living there was that no one else lived there. Most of the exchange students had chosen to live on the East side of Leipzig on Strasse des 18. Oktober, where a lot of student apartments are located. Nevertheless, it was not a huge problem since distances in Leipzig are very short in the end. My apartment was located 10 minutes away from HHL by bike. Leipzig has a quite good public transportation system and as student you are allowed to use the whole public transportation system for free on weekends and during the week from 7pm to 5am. Also a semester card for the public transportation can be bought as many did. It costs around 100 euros. I however chose to use the most popular transportation in Leipzig, namely a bicycle. Basically everyone owns a bicycle in Leipzig and it is in the end the easiest and fastest way to get around the city. I highly recommend buying a secondhand bicycle on the arrival to Leipzig. I bought mine for 25 euros and was able to sell it very easily in the end of the term too since they are always wanted. HHL does not have its own sport facilities but it has an agreement with the University of Leipzig. On the same campus with HHL there is a gym that you can use for the semester for around 40 euros. The only problem with gym is the opening times, which are quite restricted. The University also offers some sports classes, where you can sign up for a cost of around 10 euros depending on the course. Living in Leipzig is cheap. I paid 240 euros per month for a room in an apartment that I shared with two other girls. My rent is about the average in Leipzig. Also food in stores as well as food and beer in restaurants and bars was cheap in comparison with Finnish prices. For HHL I had to pay a student union fee of around 100 euros as well as for copying.

9 I can recommend getting a prepaid sim-card for the time of the exchange. There are many different operators offering different packages and getting it right from the start makes life a lot easier. I got one from Blau for 1G of internet usage for 9,90 euros per month, which I thought was an okay solution for my needs. My sim-card worked well in everywhere I travelled in Germany. In spite of the sometimes-high workload in HHL I also travelled quite a bit around Germany. During my time in Germany I learned that the Deutsche Bahn (train) is often not that reliable but the bus connections are something to recommend for. When traveling in Germany, I was mostly using a company called MeinFernbus. It is cheap, reliable and good quality for the price. Of the area close to Leipzig I would definitely recommend to visit Dresden in addition to Berlin. It is a nice city with a beautiful old town. During my time in Leipzig I also travelled to Prague and Budapest. You should definitely visit Prague during your time in Leipzig, since it is only 4 hours away and you can even take a bus straight from the center of Leipzig. Final comments I liked the fact that when studying in HHL I got a bit different perspective for my studies since HHL has a more practical approach to teaching. In addition to more business knowledge I was also able to improve my German and got many new friends. In my opinion I was also able to further improve my self-confidence and knowledge of other cultures. I really enjoyed my time in Leipzig and am happy that I chose HHL. I would recommend HHL to other students but because of the sometimes-heavy workload only if they are prepared to work also and not only enjoy traveling. Leipzig is a very lively, pretty and nice city with a lot of cool restaurants and bars together with green parks to go for a run to. Since the city is in the middle of Europe, the location is good travel-wise. All in all Leipzig is definitely a good choice for an exchange semester.

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