Convenient and Costly

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1 Student number: Convenient and Costly Travel Report from Spring 2014 at Oslo BI Preparing for the exchange As a citizen of Finland, moving to Norway was the easiest thing possible. No visa was needed, neither did I need to report locally like some of my exchange student friends did. At no point was my passport even checked! The communication with BI was efficient and clear and most of the paper work was direct exchange between the schools. It felt like I wasn't traveling abroad at all! The apartment was perhaps the trickiest to arrange. There's not so many ways to know about the options available. Nevertheless, the university offers a student accommodation in close distance to the campus and I decided to register for that, since it seemed like the easiest option. Although the rent was double of what I pay in Finland, the apartment was clean and I shared kitchen and bathroom with only one person. Also, a lot of furniture was included in the price, as well as internet connection. BI organizes a very reliable welcome service. Even for someone who's never been in Oslo, it is very easy to take the train to central station form airport. A BI-volunteer welcomed all exchange students there and adviced them on the location of their apartment and ever gave maps on how to get there. Since the public transportation system works well even in late hours, it was no problem to get to the apartment even with huge bags. The only problem for me was that I'm not a very skilled map reader so I got a bit lost on my way from Metro station to the apartments. Luckily I had asked the welcome person her cell phone number so I had back-up available. It's smart to ask for a phone number to call if you arrive late (like I did) so in case of emergency you have someone to contact even if the official school department is not open. There was a lot of free time events even before the official study program begun. On the first official study week there was a welcome event where practical things were discussed. For example, how to register for exams and what kind of things are expected in courses. We were also guided by our personal student tutors who were usually exchange students from the last semester. I think this worked really well because it gave us the chance to get more personalized information on how life as an exchange student works out.

2 The main channel for informing new students was Facebook. More official announcements came by . International department made a really good job in making sure that everyone knows what's going on. Also, once we got account to the intranet, a lot of information could be seen there. Exchange studies Starting date for the school was marked as 2.1. but in real life, most of the courses start later. It's worthwhile to check the starting dates for each course you're attending and time your arrival accordingly. The ending date for master students was way before the official end of a term. Since most of our evaluation happened through group projects and not through exams, most of us were free from school work at early May. The end of the term was marked at The usual system at bachelor level courses is that you have a final exam in June, before which you have some two or three weeks to prepare for it. My last exam was May 2 nd. So try to find out when your exams are before you plan your summer! It's not always possible but at least have in mind that you could be done with school way before the official date. At least if you are a masters student. There weren't that many courses available for exchange students. Also, the headings of some of the courses were not very informative and also the descriptions could not grasp the reality properly. It's nevertheless not necessary to follow a program so courses can be chosen freely, but then you have to face the consequence of jumping in to topics that the other students have been studying for some time. This happened to me in the course Industrial Competitiveness. Many of the students on that course had taken the previous course by the same lecturer and much of the same theories were applied on this course also. I had a little bit catching up to do for that reason. All master level courses offered are for 6 ECT, which goes well together with Aalto's requirements for international module of studies. Courses available for exchange students are in english. It is possible to study basics of norwegian language also, but the courses are not free. BI offers excellent study facilities. They have a big library with a lot of rooms for group meetings. They also have a study area open 24/7. BI computers are available all over the school and they have plenty of printing opportunities within. Printing is not free but is charged on an online account.

3 There is also a separate study lounge for masters' students, that is usually more empty, especially before the exam period when library is crowded. Courses Strategies for Industrial Competitiveness GRA6829 This course was a graduate course that was all about clustering and evaluating the competitiveness of a cluster. The studies were case-based and in every weeks session we discussed one case and we had to prepare a presentation for each week. One group was then randomly selected to present. This didn't work that well in my opinion since some of the groups got multiple times and other groups didn't get the chance to present at all. Moreover, the course required a lot more work that is included in the credits. The group you are working in changes four times during the course. This seems like unnecessary confusion and distracts students from the actual tasks (that are many!). The final evaluation for the course happened through a case study on a cluster that the groups could choose themselves. Overall, I feel that the course was a lot of work for poor learning results. I did learn to evaluate the competitiveness on a cluster in a global scale, but this skill is not very useful unless I have a lot of data on the industry in global scale and on the situation of the country. This kind of data is not easily available. I was expecting less of a macro approach and more tools for individual companies to promote their competitiveness within a certain industry. New Venture Creation GRA3136 This graduate course was very down to earth. The lecturer was an inspirational character that encouraged us to develop our own ideas and to contact real experts to further develop it. During the course we were provided with some tools that will be useful even in the long run when we are developing business ideas or evaluating them. We learned to choose, develop and modify our business ideas. We also got very practical tools to present and document a start-up business. The class size on this course was quite small so the lectures were very interactive, which improved the quality my learning experience. We also got to visit the office of the lecturer and interview his colleagues, this helped to bring real life perspective into the studies. The evaluation of the course was based on activity in taking part to discussions and also to the final report on the business idea that we developed throughout the course. The final report was a complete, detailed, description on the business idea and it's execution. I believe this course will be very useful later on in my career and participating on it was both,

4 educating and entertaining. Overall, some of the best courses I've ever attended. International Strategy GRA6344 This graduate course was a traditional one. The two lectures we had explained internationalization theories, strategies and modes through slideshows. We had quite a many cases to support the theories. Somehow, this course seemed a bit old fashioned. Internationalization was mostly discussed through old cases and the new possibilities in Africa for example, were not discussed enough. The two lecturers were good but more discussions and interactivity was needed. For the final grade, oral activity, a group work and an exam were evaluated. The exam had the biggest influence on the grade. The evaluation was fair and considered both team work and individual skills of the participants. This course has been useful to me because the theories are well applicable to my thesis. Overall, a good course that could have been made even better with more innovativeness. Leadership and Strategies in Innovation and Entrepreneurship GRA3158 This graduate course had a totally different approach than any of the other. Unfortunately, our lecturer had to take time off for two months and was replaced with a colleague with a totally different approach to teaching. The main lecturer however, had a very interactive style of teaching. He involved the students with questions and was interested to hear their opinions. In this course we learned about leadership through cases, but these cases were put to a broad, almost philosophical context. This suited my style of learning and I found the content extremely interesting. For final evaluation, we delivered a group work. Our group work was about leadership in a norwegian corporation. This helped to recap the teachings of the course. In addition to this, we had to read a book that was very different than what we have ever read. The book talked about broadening our perspective in time. The ideology was very close to the sustainability discourse that we have taken part in in Aalto. The discussion about this was a very interesting one. Overall a very good course for those who are interested in leadership. The takeaways from this course are more practical if you have studies in leadership. But even for others, it helps to broaden horizon.

5 Free Time The cost of living in Norway is quite high compared to Finland. Food and housing is far more expensive. There are nevertheless some tricks to overcome these issues. Most of the exchange students live in student flats where they share kitchen with about 5 people. This helps to bring down the costs of living. Local student union, SiO offers apartments like this. Also, you should join the Facebook channel Students market Oslo to scout for any used items you might need during your stay. I stayed at BSN, the student accommodation organized by BI. It is conveniently located within few hundred meters from the school and the apartments are clean and nice. Also, all of your neighbors go to the same school so the odds are you will meet a lot of your classmates during free time also. Somebody's always having a grill party on the roof or just having friends over for dinner. A very nice place to live. The only problem is that you have to pay the rent until no matter what. So even though my school was done 2.5. I still had to pay for the remaining rent. This was very frustrating since I didn't live there for about a month and the rent was quite expensive. Even though the food seems very expensive, most of the supermarket chains have quite good sales occasionally. So it helps to follow up on the offer newsletters they post weekly. There's even an app for that: mattilbud. Also, shopping at Gronland open market for vegetables can help bring down the food costs quite a bit. Even though the education is free, there are some hidden costs in courses. The library has only a few pieces of each books so most students are required to buy the study material. In master level courses no books are usually required but almost all of the case studies are from Harvard, meaning that they cost about 6-10euros per purchase. This can come quite expensive since there are usually some cases to buy for every week. I would recommend to find a group to share your cases with right from the start. The public transportation works well in Oslo and is relatively cheap, a month pass for a student costs about the same as in Helsinki. The norwegian lifestyle is sports oriented and active. I guarantee that you will find more people in running tights than in any other capital. SiO offers very affordable gym membership for students and the gyms are very nice with a lot of group workout possibilities. Also, the hills surrounding the

6 city offer a good place for cross country skiing or running. Akerselva river runs all the way to downtown and is a popular location for joggers. BI has a student gym inside it's building, which can be very handy in case you only need a quick break from your studies. Copenhagen should definitiely not be missed while staying in Oslo. A student budget option for this is to take a cruise from Oslo to Copenhagen. DFDS Seaways organizes every once in a while web page based games in which you can win free tickets. The games are not too difficult so almost everyone who wants can win a ticket. Also Tromso, the worlds northernmost university city, should be visited. In wintertime, it's a popular location for spotting the northern lights and to do winter activities like dog sledding. Prepare for a pricey trip though. One of my favorite places in Oslo area was Holmenkollen. The metro goes all the way up to the mountain and during winter season, you can rent slides and take Korketrekkeren from all the way top. Korketrekkeren is a long slope that goes down a couple metro stations from which you can take a train back up. Very fun activity, especially for people with no snow in their home country. Holmenkollen is a nice area for jogging also. Final Comments The premises at BI are world class. The school offers very good spaces for learning and free time activities. The level of the teaching was not quite where I expected it to be. Some non-native teachers even struggled with english. Also, the framework for teaching was most of the times quite old fashioned. Most of the sessions took place in the form of lectures and there was a clear lack of interactivity and innovation in the teaching plan. Only a few courses offered some workshop-like elements to support the teaching. Also goup work tasks were quite traditional ones with little room for creativity. I would probably stay in SiO apartments in Sogn if I were to go to Oslo again. The apartments have a good location and are a lot cheaper than BSN. Also, you are allowed to break free from your contract whenever you want. During my exchange I learned a lot about working in groups with people from different cultural backgrounds. I also learned a lot of new things related to fields of economics that haven't been

7 covered by my previous education. The major takeaway was the networks that I formed during my stay. They will hopefully prove useful in future job search in Norway. My self image remained pretty much the same. I learned that I can cope and succeed even in tasks that are out of my core area of interest and competence. I got a bit more confidence in approaching those kinds of things. Overall, I would say that Oslo is an amazing city and a really nice place to live in. Also getting to know our neighbor country deeper will hopefully pay off in the future if you are engaged in Nordic countries cooperation projects.

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