From Finland to France : Lohileipä vs. Baguette


Yassine Berrouj is an International Business student at Häme University of Applied Sciences. He is interested in everything out of the ordinary. Yassine is currently doing his exchange at La Rochelle Business school: Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de la Rochelle in France.

First impressions?

After a long trip from Finland to France I was ready to taste the French cuisine so right after landing I went to the  local “boulangerie” aka bakery shop but then I realized that they don’t have rye bread, the seller said: “sorry we don’t know what that is”.

Being from Finland rye bread is a great part of the Finnish culture. There is something about Finnishness and rye bread, it’s just that you can’t have any Finnishness within unless you eat rye bread. Unfortunately, I had to take a baguette that is a term for a sandwich-like bread that contains vegetables and meat.  The baguette was great but I still would have paid anything for my ”lohileipä”, the best sandwich in the world, you don’t believe me?  Ask anyone from Finland and they would tell you the same.

Why heading to France for exchange?

Liberté, égalité, fraternité is the national motto of France. Even though French culture implies an enormous amount of communication in its high context culture, their national logo is compact and clear. I thought maybe understanding the meaning of these three national words would help me understand more about French culture and hopefully give me another perspective in life so besides my other courses I also took a sociology course at my host university.

It turned out I was wrong, understanding the meaning behind the French national motto was not enough and my aim was to get to know the culture in depth so that eventually I could gain another perspective in life. However, I was lucky, my French sociology professor is a Phd graduate from the Sorbonne University and he was determined to not only explain the causes of today’s world system but he also gave a clear and interesting analysis into French culture.

I went to exchange in France in order to understand other cultures, take more challenges and break more cultural walls, build international networks and lifelong friendships.

Tell something about your exchange university?

I am currently doing my  exchange at La Rochelle Business school: Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de la Rochelle in France created in 1988 and is a part of the The Grandes Écoles system that was created by Napoleon after the French Revolution.

The Grandes Écoles are highly selective and usually do not have large student bodies: most give admission to few hundred students each year.

What are you studying there?

I am studying in the last year´s track of Bachelor of Business administration: international management. I have been studying innovation marketing, international finance, leadership and management and was also conducting consultancy projects.

What has been the best thing in exchange?

Defiantly the chance to work as a consultant for a disruptive French aircraft manufacturer. Not every student gets to work with international companies that rely strongly on good expertise and cannot afford to make mistakes. Especially when the business is related to sensitive products similar to aircrafts.

What has been the most challenging thing in exchange?

Definitely understanding how French buses operate. Being from Finland, I am punctual. However, I was surprised with the French buses´ flexibility with time. Sometimes the bus runs earlier than its scheduled time and sometimes they run late.

Check out more information about HAMK’s exchange opportunities from here. The next  application period for HAMK’s International Business and instructions for application can be found here.  

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