Diving into another culture with the double degree
Alina Venermo was the first to complete a double degree at Turku UAS’ cooperation partner ESTA, which is a private university in France. A double degree provides two certificates, from two different higher education institutions.
Text: Mari Loikkanen
When Alina Venermo a couple of years ago decided to complete a year-long student exchange in Belfort, France, she didn’t quite know what was ahead of her. The experience would mean diving head-first into a new culture.
In their third year of studies, all students in the degree programme of Industrial Management and Engineering at Turku University of Applied Sciences head for student exchange. Venermo, however, decided to complete a longer exchange than others: instead of five months, she would spend the entire academic year in France and complete a double degree.
A double degree means that in addition to completing a degree, students can complete an equivalent degree in a different higher education institution. The student can apply for credit transfer for a part of the studies, and a part is completed on site.
In France, Venermo completed the 60 credits required for the double degree. The credits were also included in the Bachelor of Industrial Management and Engineering degree from Turku UAS. Hence, her total study time was not elongated.
This autumn, Venermo was awarded a degree certificate by the French higher education institution École Supérieure des Technologies et des Affaires (ESTA) and is the first student to have completed a double degree at Turku UAS and ESTA.
The French language was trying at first
A jump into the French world of higher education required patience and perseverance.
“I had started studying French already in primary school, but before the exchange, I had a long break from studying the language. When I went to France, I couldn’t understand the language almost at all. It was completely different from the way we speak French in the lessons in Finland. In Finland, the accent is clear and the speech rhythm slower. In France, the local dialects also impacted the understandability."
Venermo describes that in the beginning, she was completely exhausted from trying to use the foreign language to the best of her ability. The vocabulary at the higher education level was new and challenging.
“Then something funny happened. I went to bed thinking that I couldn’t understand a thing, and in the morning when I woke up, I suddenly started to grasp words and speech better. I probably processed the language subconsciously”, Venermo ponders.
In her Industrial Management and Engineering studies at Turku UAS, Venermo specialized in sales. In addition to sales, sales engineers from the degree programme in Industrial Management and Engineering are also capable of mastering technical issues extensively. In France, Venermo completed more business courses, digital marketing, programming, and courses related to process engineering.
The difference between the ways of studying in Finland and France were enormous. Venermo had to learn to address the teachers formally and politely and get used to the schooldays lasting from morning to evening. In the lunchtime, people went home to eat. In the lessons, the teacher spoke, and others listened. Venermo noticed that in Finland, learning is based on communication.
The double degree yields benefit for the labour market
Upon completing the double degree, Venermo graduated as a Bachelor of Industrial Management and Engineering from Turku UAS and received a Diplôme de Manager en Ingénierie d’Affaires Industrielles degree certificate from ESTA.
“The double degree is useful. It proves my language skills and determination and provides added value in job-seeking. In Finland, when I say that I have a double degree, it immediately rouses people’s interest. I recommend the double degree for those, who really want to integrate in another culture and learn the language of the target country. It has been very rewarding to throw myself in a new culture.”
Nowadays Venermo runs her own business, Folcan, which offers digital marketing services for growth-oriented businesses. Venermo started the business almost two years ago with her friend from upper secondary school. In her job, the issues which she studied as a sales engineer are combined: digital marketing requires technical and business competence.
“The company is thriving. We are a team of five and we cooperate with dozens of clients. We have already doubled our turnover from last year”, says Venermo.
In the Turku region, Folcan’s customers include e.g. Design Hill and Wanna GoGo. Even though the clientele is mostly Finnish, Venermo has her sights set on France and would like to live there on a more permanent basis.
“I’m interested in the French market. There they are behind the Nordic countries in digital marketing, and I’m sure the services provided by our company would be sought after”, she says.
Turku UAS’ double degree agreements
Double degrees in information and communications technology
• Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg HAW - Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany
• Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra - Polytechnic of Coimbra, Portugal
• Université de Tours - The University of Tours, France
• Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia - University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, Italy
• Universidad de Burgos - University of Burgos, Spain
• Université de Lorraine - University of Lorraine, France
• Universitatea de Vest din Timişoara - West University of Timisoara, Romania
Double degrees in business administration
• Y SCHOOLS Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Troyes, France
• OTH Regensburg, Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Regensburg, Germany
• Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain
Double degrees in industrial management and engineering
• Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany
• ESTA l’École Superieure des Technologies et des Affaires, France
• Hochschule Aalen, Germany
Double degrees in mechanical engineering
• Hochschule Emden-Leer, Germany