Hello everyone! To start with, I just want to say that I am super glad to join this awesome team of young and enthusiastic Study Advisory members! I`ve been here for one week only, but it already feels great! Now, a bit about myself.
My name is Dasha and I’m coming from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. In Finland, I feel like home. Honestly, nowadays I feel more home here than back to Russia. I think the reason of it might be that my whole independent and grown-up life started here in Finland. I study International Business at HAMK and I’m really grateful for all the opportunities and challenges I had during those two years. Studying and working with people from all over the world opens up your mind and changes the way you think, therefore I definitely recommend everyone (at least once in a lifetime) going somewhere abroad to study, work or just volunteer. It will make you a different person and you will learn lots of new things about yourself!
During my second year in Finland I went for exchange program to Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea. Going somewhere far and not that well-known for me was my main purpose. I’ve been travelling across Europe quite a lot before, therefore I thought why not trying something new and exotic! Those 4 months which I spent there made me a person I am today. I had great days, I had bad days also. That’s totally fine! Living in a completely different environment with completely different people was the best experience I have ever had which brought me a new version of myself.
One of the most memorable and really cool things I’ve done after my first year in Finland was hitchhiking trip with a friend of mine during summer holidays. In 12 days of our non-stop hitchhike we’ve visited 8 countries and covered about 4100km. We started from Italy, went to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, Germany, Sweden and finished our journey in Finland! You can see some of the pics below.
P.S. Stay tuned up on our blog page about hitchhike soon !:P
Travelling is my passion and something that I’m always craving to do.In life I always follow “if you fear it, go for it!” motto, that is why I highly recommend everyone to go out of a comfort zone and study abroad! Study Advisory will guide you and I, as a new team member, will also do my best to find your dream university!
I am Pauline and I am just starting at Study Advisory being in charge mostly of marketing tasks. I am also translating SA’s website into my native French. While my background is in politics and international relations, I have been passionate about Finland since the country joined the EU in 1995. Actually, one reason behind my interest was the Finnish reputation for innovative education (maybe more at primary and secondary levels). This is the first time I will stay in Finland for longer than a few weeks and into the winter, too, which is exciting!
I studied in my home country, France, as well as in the UK and I also interned in South India. In 2013 and 2014 while working abroad in Switzerland I enrolled on a Finnish language and culture summer course at the University of Jyväskylä and I loved the teaching methods and the international atmosphere of the course.
I look forward to embarking on the great adventure of connecting students with universities worldwide! In addition to the start-up culture welcoming new ideas I have found at SA’s office, it has already been stimulating for me to speak Finnish with my colleagues alongside our lingua franca – English.
I have been at Study Advisory for a week now and I really value the creative, forward-looking and international spirit! Last but not least, I find it really stimulating to be working in a social enterprise in itself, with also boasts an additional commitment to UNESCO.
I look forward to posting blog posts here and to reading your comments about more thematic topics!
My name is Marika Myllymäki and I am the newest member on board at Study Advisory, pleased to meet you all. My background is in media studies and communications with an underlying passion for an international career. I am going to introduce myself and share some feelings about my first weeks at the office, by defining some keywords.
S – Start up
This is the first time I am working in a start-up company. I am super excited to learn new things and to see how a great idea is progressing day by day.
T – Tampere
My new office is located in Tampere, Finland. I´ve always been curious about this city and I have done different tourist things here my whole life, for example visiting Moomin museum and Särkänniemi (amusement park). This time I am actually living here, in this beautiful and cool old factory scenery.
U – Utrecht
I spent my exchange times in Utrecht, Holland. I got familiar with some parts of the Dutch culture, like bicycling everywhere, eating tons of bread (even for lunch) and studying hard. Utrecht is very picturesque city with plenty of nice cafés, bars and clubs. If you are planning on studying in Utrecht, check out the university profiles here.
D – Diversity
I am happy to have co-workers from different countries and it is quite exciting to have the weekly meetings with people from the Hongkong office. The world seems to be our playground at Study Advisory.
Y – Youth
Another thing that is new to me, is to work with such young group of people. Or maybe it is just that I am getting older, haha.
A – Adventure
I am truly encouraging everyone to study and work abroad, since it is always healthy to have a little adventure in your life. Adjusting in a new environment is also a self-esteem-boosting experience.
D – Dancing
I have always been dancing. At home, at clubs, at gigs and also trying different styles in dance schools. My latest experiment is salsa! By dancing the world makes sense again.
V – Vintage
I love vintage and second hand clothes and things. Luckily Tampere offers a lot of nice flea markets and shops for some treasure hunting.
I – Imagination
In a start-up company it is important to have a good imagination and give time for creativity and brainstorming.
S – Sushi
I just simply love sushi.
O – Optimism
At Study Advisory I find the atmosphere very positive towards new ideas and new people.
R – Rodents
The only animals I believe I understand. Okay, this is going a bit too far.
Y – Yoga
To have balance and flexibility I have been doing yoga everywhere I go. I have ended up in the yoga studios even in Holland, Goa and Portugal.
Here is a riddle for you, which words are built up from the letters?
I’m Nelli Koutaniemi, a fourth-year business student from Oulu, Finland and I did a three-month internship for Study Advisory in their Hong Kong’s office this Summer 2016. Basically I’m here to tell and describe why it’s freaking awesome. Challenging, independent and rapidly changing – and everything awesome.
How did you end up to Study Advisory’s Hong Kong office in first place?
I was studying as an exchange student in Hong Kong for the spring semester 2016. I was very keen to find an internship placement from the city since Hong Kong made such a good impression on me during the first few months. I was lucky to notice Study Advisory’s internship position and meet Tuomas, the head of the Hong Kong subsidiary, in the office in Kowloon. Before the interview I made some research about the company and I was impressed by the work that they have done and the overall mission of Study Advisory: they share a lot of same values and ideas that I do.
What do you study and what were your tasks during the internship?
As said, I am a business student majoring in International Business Management and minoring in Marketing and Corporate Law. I was a marketing intern for Study Advisory, which gave me possibility to combine my major and minor subjects efficiently.
In short, I handled a lot of different kinds of marketing practices from social media to bigger projects and on the other hand I had a chance to work on the field networking and meeting higher education professionals. Together with my colleague we participated in some education expos and events and met the students and the university staff at campuses – there are 8 big universities in Hong Kong area! Outside office hours there were a lot of professional networking events from salsa classes to insightful workshops and presentations.
As a business student I learned the most when participating in Study Advisory’s crowdfunding campaign (I am so flattered that as an intern they gave me such big responsibilities in it) and when I got a chance to negotiate some cooperation possibilities with local and foreign business representatives.
What do I need to take into account if I want to work in Hong Kong?
The basics! Get the trainee visa, find yourself an apartment, take some vaccinations and book your flight tickets. Study Advisory provides you with an intern guide with all the basic information. Take a look also at the training visa’s requirements and enclosures from Immigration Department’s website. You need to gather a lot of papers and prepare to wait a few months, but generally the visa process is quite pleasant.
Apartment situation in Hong Kong is a bit trickier question. 8 million people packed in such a small area means that the apartments are small and the prices are quite high. Nothing to be afraid though, if you are not able to find your dream flat from Facebook groups such as FindYourRoomInHongKong, you can always ask for a single room in a dormitory like Apple Dorm and keep seeking while you arrive. Or maybe do it like I did and stay there for the whole time!
Hong Kong is too awesome. I mean it, to me it is a paradise of contrasts: the high-end, skyscraper-filled metropolis with more local areas and they special atmosphere. The nature is close: Hong Kong is a city surrounded by beautiful steep mountain sides.
How’s Hong Kong as a working environment?
Although working in such a huge city is challenging, it rewards you with a can-do attitude and offers amazing networking possibilities. The atmosphere is competitive and busy and local people are very hard-working by their nature. Study Advisory’s Hong Kong office pretty much follows the headquarters in Finland when it comes to working habits and hours. Local people are very hard working and can stay in the office more than 12h a day.
I really miss lunch hours in local restaurants, they get packed around noon to 1pm with cheerful business men and women chatting with their colleagues, gathering together with their steaming hot bowls of tasty noodle soup or something else delicious. After dinner time you can easily find some relaxed or more professional events or grab an after-work beer with colleagues. The city provides excellent opportunities for networking!
Comparing to headquarters in Finland, do you concentrate on different field in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong’s office is there to concentrate on Asian markets: half of the world’s university students living within a 4-hour flight from Hong Kong! The city itself is one of the biggest start-up hubs of Asia. Internship is a great way to get introduced to Asian markets, business and higher education.
Study Advisory operates in one co-working space in Kowloon and we also spend hours in campuses, “coffice” (taking office or your laptop into a coffee shop) or in Wanchai Small & Medium Size Enterprise Center. Whatever was the most convenient at the time!
What was the most challenging part working in Hong Kong?
I don’t think that the city itself caused any big challenges to my internship. Before my exchange I had already spent 4 full months in Hong Kong so I kind of knew what to expect. Prepare yourself for the inevitable culture shock, I’d say. Everyone who moves abroad for more than one month is going to experience in one way or another. For me the biggest cultural shock was my tiny apartment but with a right attitude (and a good-night sleep) everything falls into place pretty quickly.
… and the most fun?
Where do I start. There was something special excitement to work in Hong Kong. Generally, while interning for Study Advisory you get to experience a very modern way of working. You take your laptop and take a seat at Starbucks or in co-working space with other start-up companies, meet people and feel the pulse of the busy metropolis while taking a fully packed metro back home in the evening. I consider myself very lucky to experience all of that. So, for the “most fun” part I’d say the modern way of working, the atmosphere of the city and of course – my amazing colleagues. Hong Kong team was (at my time) relatively small but they were all nice and genuine people.
Any final words?
If you are considering to work for Study Advisory in Hong Kong, go for it. It is amazing time not only because of the city, but Study Advisory provides a great learning environment in a start-up business. Basically, you get as many responsibilities as you ask for and everyone in the team is important for the company. It truly was an experience of a lifetime.
A queue obviously long enough, to begin a conversation about another life change.
All Harri wanted was to grab some salad from the buffet in the middle of a busy conference day, but Tuomas had other ideas.
Their common friend was running an online store for ethically produced clothes by bringing the whole market under the same roof. And the idea just didn’t leave Tuomas alone.
Finally he couldn’t even wait to sit down at the table, but decided to step up in front of the salad buffet.
“I think there should be a similar service for higher education and universities. But the university rankings would be based on students’ opinions and reviews. Would you find this interesting?” he asked Harri.
Knowing his best friend and best man from afar, Harri knew exactly what he was talking about.
“Are you asking me to be your partner in a new business?” he replied.
And that was exactly what Tuomas was asking for.
“If you are in, I think we should start building a team.”
He was in, the team was built and Study Advisory was launched barely a year after that conversation.
The journey of Study Advisory began from that actual salad buffet, but the story of Harri and Tuomas goes much further back in time.
Had there not been a friendship of 20 years and shared entrepreneurship of seven years, Tuomas would probably have chosen another scene for his first move.
“We had run a prominent company together for years by that time, but were still constantly looking for new business ideas. I think it tells a whole lot about our character and friendship,” he says.
“We have been able to produce life-changing experiences for thousands of students already. That kind of common agenda and entrepreneurship has glued us together.”
Hence the old saying of “best way to ruin your friendship with someone, is to set up a company together” turned out to be mere empty talk.
“I dare to say, that our friendship wouldn’t be at the same level without having a company together,” Harri confirms.
Shanghai and Madventures connection
Harri and Tuomas were already good friends in elementary school in the Finnish city of Nokia, but it was just after their own exchange experiences in Shanghai, when everything clicked.
Harri was working for Hewlett-Packard in Helsinki and Tuomas got hired for PriceWaterhouseCoopers in the same city just after his graduation.
He slept for the first months of his stay on Harri’s sofa and then, slowly, they began to share their experiences in China.
“We also started to think about entrepreneurship, what would it be like? We were both big fans of Madventures and loved their attitude and what they were able to do,” Harri says.
“We thought that we could help other students do the same as we did, and help Asian universities get international students at the same time.”
The idea turned out to be a huge success, as both students and Asian universities grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Biggest in the world
Asia Exchange was founded in 2007 and a year later Harri and Tuomas ditched their promising careers in big multinational companies in order to chase their shared dream.
Seven years after opening the business, they suddenly realized they had grown to be the biggest study abroad organisation in the world, focusing on Asia.
By May 2016 they had helped thousands of students from more than 350 universities and 45 countries to Asia.
“It’s amazing to see how our own small dream has come true and has gone much further than we ever dared to dream of,” Tuomas says.
“We established our first company in 2007 when the global financial crisis kicked in. In these difficult times we have been able to grow steadily, hire many talented people and even set up a new company. It’s so rewarding,” Harri continues.
Life-changer for students and founders
While Asia Exchange has been able to give life-changing experiences to thousands of students, it certainly has done the same for the founders.
If it wasn’t for that one visit in Kuala Lumpur couple of years ago, Tuomas would have never met his wife Helen.
Or if it wasn’t for Harri’s coincidental stay in the Koh Lipe island in Thailand, their paths with his wife Susanne might have never crossed.
“That’s the absolute reward for running this company. We both had a chance to meet the women of our lives. Asia Exchange has brought both of us families, it’s unbelievable,” Harri says.
For the past three years, Harri and Tuomas have been split by 7861 kilometers between them. Tuomas lives in Hong Kong with his family, while Harri moved the company headquarters and his family to Tampere in Finland.
“Tuomas is still the person I see the most excluding my family. It is a fantastic opportunity, that one of us lives there. Our understanding of the business in Asia improves at the same time,” Harri explains.
Coca-Cola of university searches
With Asia Exchange, they quickly realized their partnership strives from their different personalities. While Harri lets his visions fly, Tuomas has his feet firmly on the ground.
They might not think similarly about many things, but there is always a common path, that both of them are happy to follow.
“It has been clear from the beginning, that four lobes of the brain make better ideas than two. Even if I don’t get my way in everything, I know the paths we choose are great, because Tuomas is of certain opinion,” Harri says.
And having grown a world’s biggest business together once, why not give it another shot. With Study Advisory they want to revolutionize the traditional university rankings and give a voice to the students and their experiences.
The ambition is to impact millions of people, instead of thousands they do now.
“We want to take the position that nobody holds at the moment. Ask anyone on the street, what is the equivalent to Coca-Cola in university searches, and no one knows,” Tuomas says.
The passion for education soars not only from their will to help students, but to change the world at the same time.
“In our opinion, education is a key to many global problems. By internationalizing education, we can affect the deepest problems in the world: terrorism, poverty and pollution. It goes without saying, that we want to carry our social responsibility in everything we do,” Harri says.
Tuomas Kauppinen is a co-founder of Asia Exchange and Study Advisory. He works as an Academic Director for Asia Exchange and as a Director for Study Advisory. Harri Suominen is a co-founder of Asia Exchange and Study Advisory. He works as a CEO for Asia Exchange and as a Sales Director for Study Advisory.
Now that we have established our presence in Finland, Study Advisory is destined to conquer the rest of the world and gain more global impact!
Study Advisory’s origins are in small, yet mighty Finland, a country with the population of only 5,5 million people. Small we might be, but within this population the people have a lot of ‘sisu’ and when it comes to our study squad … oh boy, you can’t even imagine how much sisu there is! In case you’ve ever wondered what exactly is this ‘sisu’, it is a Finnish word that cannot be translated but in short it illustrates the strong mentality and attitude of Finnish people.
We are aiming high: we want to be global and to change the world – or even the universe as soon as the man reaches Mars. Our team is vibrant and ready to move wherever we are needed, even to another planet if that is required!
Going global is not startling for us, because we are already very international within our team! We have staff members from three continents, working in three cities in two continents.
Half of our team is located in Hong Kong, with local and Finnish fellows. In Tampere, Finland, we have a team consisting of our American consolidation from Texas, as well as Finns living in Finland and Scotland. This is not all, but we have also reached to Ireland with one of our team members working from there.
Providing information about higher education globally and improving the possibilities for everyone to study abroad for a full degree or just as an exchange, are only some of our goals.
We are much more: we are here to help everyone and already now we have gained influence over many countries in Europe and Asia. However, we are always looking over the horizon in order to explore something new and improve our services, as well as make constantly new connections. Eeva and Melissa from our team in Tampere are traveling to Germany and London to meet with our future partner universities. And further on this road the next stop is overseas when we participate in the NAFSA (Association of International Educators) conference in Denver, Colorado.
Our amazing Study Advisory team has recently grown by a few new staff members, and we decided to make a blog post to introduce ourselves and let you know a little something about the people behind the scenes. We will be in charge of Study Advisory networking, marketing and staying in contact with our growing amount of Study Advisory users. Here’s a short introduction of each of us:
“Hello everyone! Melissa here, from the Study Squad based in Tampere. I’m a misplaced Texan who has made Finland my permanent home since 2009, completing a bachelor’s degree in tourism in 2013 and a bachelor’s degree in international business in 2016. You could easily say I have a passion for learning, having studied myself in 4 universities on 3 different continents!
My greatest hobby of all is to travel the world and experience all that life has to offer. My personal goal in life is to visit a new country for every year I have been alive. The current ratio is 22/25!
My journey with the Study Advisory team began in 2015 when I met Harri and Tuomas at the orientation of my study abroad period in Bali with their company Asia Exchange. I told them I was looking for an internship with a global company based in Finland, and they found me a place at Study Advisory right away!
After a 3-month internship for Study Advisory, the atmosphere was so amazing that I just couldn’t leave! So here I am, working as a marketing coordinator for one of the most global and passionate teams I have ever met.”
“Hi! I’m Eeva, the new international coordinator at Study Advisory. I started working here a few weeks ago and am really excited about all the new challenges. I studied in the University of Tampere and thus have been living in Tampere already for quite a few years, but I’m originally from Kuopio in Eastern Finland. I have also lived abroad a few times in Italy, France, and Belgium. Those have definitely been some of the most important experiences of my life and have taught me a lot about myself and the world around me.
I am passionate about different cultures, languages and traveling, and I’m always interested in discovering how things are done differently in different countries. In my free time I enjoy long walks outside, yoga, gym, swimming in the lake both winter and summer, knitting, cooking, gardening and reading… just to mention a few!
At Study Advisory my responsibilities include networking with the universities all around the world, administrative tasks at our office in Tampere – and of course constantly developing our services so that we can better answer the needs of both students and universities worldwide. I’m happy to help future and current students, alumni and university staff alike to get the most out of Study Advisory!”
“Hello! I’m Sami, one of the new team members who started in April 2016 to work at Study Advisory. Tampere is my home city, a place of birth actually, which means that I haven’t really gotten that far away from home… Although I have to mention that as the years have passed, I have discovered over thirty countries in two continents, either by travelling, studying or working abroad. I’m always listening to good tips for travelling and am willing to answer if you want to ask something, so just give me a shout!
My mind is strongly internationally focused, so if I would be the president of the world, I would make a law that everyone must go abroad either to study or to work for at least a few months during their lives. But since I’m not, I will just work in a determined and passionate way to make it possible for you and help you any way I can. When you are thinking about future study options, don’t hesitate to contact me.
I’m working currently in a double role, for Study Advisory but as well for Asia Exchange, but they belong to the same family anyways. Within both roles the main goal is the same; increase student mobility, just in different ways. With the help of Study Advisory, the goal is to build a worldwide network for universities and students to find each other, and my role is to build partnerships with universities in order to make Study Advisory a bigger, better and stronger service where information about “where to study?” can be easily obtained.
Se on moro! (bye bye in Finnish, in Tampere region dialect)”
“Every day is not necessarily a good day, but there is something good in everyday”
We are very much looking forward to our new challenges here at Study Advisory, and we are really excited to help young people find their dream universities. Spending the summer at the office doesn’t feel bad at all with such an inspiring job and such great colleagues!
All over the world millions of youngsters are asking: where to study? We at Study Advisory have also asked the very same question and ended up to places all over the world.
For many people higher education is the last step before entering the hectic working life. While studying we not only process as much information for our future careers as possible but we search for ourselves, develop our identities and build networks that will hopefully last for a lifetime. Briefly: when studying we have the time of your lives.
There are as many reasons to choose a university as there are students. Someone might want to study law in the most famous university in the world, another wants to study near the best ski slopes and some people may just want to experience something completely different from their own country. I’ll deal more with this subject some other day since it’s so fascinating!
Study Advisory started from the idea to offer a truly global service for students to find the university of their dreams. We want to cater for the needs of the top students but also for those searching for themselves and for what they want from their life and studies. Study Advisory’s team consists of seven rather young and resourceful co-founders and we are sure that we can change the way youngsters search for information – and for themselves.
I sure love good quotes and I think this one from the philosopher John Dewey would be appropriate: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” I couldn’t agree more. The time I spent at the University of Tampere, Universidad de Alicante and Universität Klagenfurt sometimes didn’t even feel like studying; it felt like living.
So welcome to our blog to follow our story on our way to be the most student-friendly service to search for information about different universities! No matter whether you are a youngster, a student, a member of a staff at a university or just someone interested in higher education – join us to follow our story!