Previous experiences

Gabriela - International Business

Gabriela Hertnagel is a 24 year old young woman from the Austrian Alps. She is also a recent graduate of VAMK. In June 2009 she finished her studies in International Business program and gained her BBA degree with outstanding results. Already during her studies she started working part-time for the local international ship power company Wärtsilä. Currently Gabriela is working for the same company and wishes to complete a master’s degree in a few years, after which she would like to gain more international competence. Now this energetic VAMK alumni shares her views on VAMK, Vaasa and Finland.

Why did you choose to study at VAMK?

After high school I spent nearly a year in Finland as an Au Pair. During that time I got to know Vaasa and Finland. I also met my boyfriend here and I wanted to come back. When I came to Vaasa I did not speak Finnish of Swedish that well, so I was looking for possibilities to complete a degree in English. VAMK was my first choice because it offered an International Business program in English. I applied to VAMK and was accepted. I was pleased to know that the learning process at the Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences is more practically oriented than it was at my home university where I studied Business for one year before I applied to VAMK and moved to Vaasa. I knew that this type of learning environment would suit me best.

What was your first impression on Vaasa, on Finland?

Vaasa is a beautiful city and the center of the Ostrobothnia-region, located close to the sea.

My first impression was that the city of Vaasa looks much bigger than it really is and I mean this in the most positive way. I was surprised at the fact that the two official languages are so lively present in Vaasa. It gives a city a vibrant and unique image – and also a feeling of an international city. People are patient and independent. The fact that people are cycling everywhere was something extraordinary. I love the fact that I can cycle everywhere, as the distances are so reachable in Vaasa!

Finland in general is a clean country and I like the nature here very much because it is very unique.

What about the studies, do you think they gave you a good background for your future challenges?

Definitely yes!

First of all, I am glad that I was given an opportunity to study International Business. It is a vast field of study which gives the students possibility to work in different positions after graduation. At VAMK the practice is an essential part of the learning process and this is something that I truly value. During my studies I did a lot of group works, assignments, and real-life case studies that were very practical. This is an extremely interesting and efficient way of learning and I feel that even what I thought was a boring subject in the beginning became fascinating and very enlightening! Also, I like the period system used at VAMK. This means that the work is spread out equally throughout the year and this keeps you active. I studied in an international group where Finnish and foreign students from all over the world were mixed. This setting prepared me for the working life, as I learned to work with people from other cultures and back grounds.

What are your best memories of VAMK?

In general, all my memories of VAMK are the best and I would not change a thing. The memories that I value the most, is probably from the day, not so long ago, of my graduation and getting my degree. But overall, we had a great class spirit and I got to know so many people from so many cultures – things that I cannot learn from any books.

What sort of career are you considering within a few years?

Well, Business is definitely the field of study that I love. Next year I will start my master’s degree studies at the University of Vaasa. This is a natural continuation to my studies at VAMK. I would like to specialize in International Marketing and become an expert in this field. I consider myself an international person and I want to experience more countries in the future. I hope I will have an opportunity to live and work in another country for couple of years. This would be my dream come true for sure.

Much needed advice for a person coming to Vaasa/to Finland?

Even before entering the country, take your time to prepare yourself for the Finnish culture. Finns are unique and most probably different from those of your country of origin.

Good advice I can give you is just remember the fact that you are studying and living in a different country and culture. You should not forget your own roots, but you should try to find a way to live in harmony with your own and Finnish culture.

You should not give up if something does not go as you would like it goes. In Finland this is called “sisu” – a gut to do something. Be patient, with time you get to know all the written and unwritten rules. All your efforts will be worth it!