After visiting Finland in May of 2015 as part of the Paloheimo Fellows Program, Schwartzen Jarmond decided he enjoyed it so much he would like to return someday. That opportunity came when he decided to spend the fall 2016 semester as an exchange student at the JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä. The city of Jyväskylä has a population of 130,000 and is located 165 miles north of Helsinki. Jarmond, a senior majoring in management and entrepreneurship, studied courses including cross-cultural management, human resource management, strategic management, and beginning Finnish during his semester at JAMK.
In comparison to Finlandia, Jarmond noted that “the courses at JAMK were structured a bit differently in that the classroom sessions were longer in duration – but with breaks. Another difference was that it seemed like we did even more group work at JAMK than we do at Finlandia – which I found surprising.”
The business program Jarmond studied in was truly international in that there were students from several other countries including France, Russia, China and Germany to name but a few. As he continued “There were several different cultures interacting with varying levels of English. Some of my classes had asylum seekers from countries like Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq. I actually had to work in class projects with them. Since they were still learning English, there was a huge communication barrier we had to overcome, but we made it work.”
How about studying and communicating with the host Finns? Jarmond observed that “The Finns are quiet and humble. It takes some time for them to warm up to you. As an American, it’s ok to approach Finns and just start a conversation. I actually met a lot of people this way. They were also very willing to help me whenever I needed it. I just had to ask.”
Free time was spent playing basketball and travelling around Finland, plus one trip to Estonia. There were also a lot of student-organized activities. Schwartzen especially enjoyed participating in activities the Finns are famous for. “The saunas and the times we spent by the Finnish lakeside were great,” he added.
As he looks forward to graduating this spring, Schwartzen said “I encourage other students to take advantage of the opportunities to travel to and study in Finland. It really is the experience of a lifetime, and it looks great on a resume. I also met a few students interested in coming here to study at Finlandia on an exchange. I hope they do.”Tags: JAMK University, Paloheimo Fellows Program, Schwartzen Jarmond