Stories Tara

“A perfect training for real business life”

Tara, South Africa, Bachelor’s Degree Programme, International Business

Tara is waiting for an urgent delivery from the United States: several parcels with sportswear produced in the US. “Sometimes there are problems with the American scan code or with the customs”, she explains.

Half a year ago, she and her husband took a courageous step: being two foreigners in Finland – Tara is from South Africa, her husband from the US – they set up their own business in Helsinki. Now, they are quite successfully selling American sports clothes to retailers on the Northern European market – to Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

The start-up venture did not appear out of nowhere. Tara has now been studying International Business for four semesters in Finland. She developed the idea to found her own company during her studies at the University of Applied Science Haaga-Helia in Helsinki. The school’s staff supported her in becoming a foreign entrepreneur.

“The teachers here encourage us to use our creativity and to develop our own ideas while working self-determined and problem-based”, she says. In the beginning, Tara found it a little bit hard to adapt to this kind of teaching. “You are so used to teachers telling you exactly what you have to do.”

But after a while, she really started to appreciate the so called problem-based learning method which is a relatively new, interactive approach to teaching and intensively applied at her school.

“We often work in groups and have to solve a problem, finding our own way with suitable material from the library and the internet. Of course, there is always support from the teacher, but students are generally working independently. Actually, we run many classes like board meetings – it is perfect training for real business life.”

In addition to her studies, Tara is active in developing her own business. She usually attends courses and lectures at her school from morning until afternoon and works for her company afterwards. “That’s an excellent schedule for me. California, where we get our products from, is a few hours behind, so I can easily do both: study during the day and work in the evenings.”

All courses of the study programme are held in English, but Tara also speaks fluent Finnish. Before she started her studies, she worked as an au-pair in Finland and built up her language skills. In the Finnish way, she spends her weekends often biking or hiking outdoors. “The nature here is incredible. After you have left the inner city, you are in the middle of the woods. All in all as a foreign student, I feel honestly welcome and supported here. For me, Finland has become a home away from home”.

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