International double degree from SeAMK
Ernestas Guobys from Vilniaus Kolegija University of Applied Sciences (VIKO), Lithuania, has done double degree in the field of international business at SeAMK and graduated in June 2022.
SeAMK has currently 17 double degree agreements with its international partner institutions. The double degree programme requires a student to study one academic year at the double degree partner institution. Also, the practical training of five months is done internationally. The Bachelor thesis has to be written in English under supervision and evaluation of academic staff from both the home and host institution. Graduates of the programme get their Bachelor certificate from both partner institutions.
Ernestas decided already in high school to study towards the international degree.
– The story of how I made my decision to participate in a double degree programme comes from very long time ago. Back when I was about to finish high school, I searched for my next adventure and I tried to find a university and a study programme, which would suit me. It was quite a stressful experience, because I didn’t know who I really am and who did I want to become. In the sea of opportunities, one struck me the most – International Business studies, where programme description mentioned an opportunity to participate in double degree studies in a foreign country. That persuaded me to enroll in that university and that programme. I didn’t know what countries were on the list, but I was hungry to explore the world and ready to go wherever I can to get real international experience. In the end of my second year of studies at Vilniaus Kolegija University of Applied Sciences, I applied for a double degree studies at SeAMK with no hesitation, excited about what future will bring, he recalls.
Ernestas chose Finland and SeAMK as his destination not only because of the beautiful Finnish nature, but also since the good reputation of Finnish education system. In order to get a double degree, Ernestas had to study in a university, which has partnership with his home university.
– SeAMK was the only one in Finland, but I believe that I would have chosen it anyway, because it is the best University of Applied Sciences in Finland. But why Finland of all places? While all of my colleagues chose a place closer to the equator, I decided to go the opposite way, not only because I much more prefer the majestic scenery of Finnish winter landscapes rather than hot tropics and what not, but also because it is a country with one of the best education systems in the world. That is where I was sure to get the best skills and knowledge to become a demanded specialist, he says.
Some differences in the study methods
According to Ernestas, study methods at his home university VIKO and SeAMK were very similar, but he also noticed several differences.
– SeAMK had much more diverse class base, meaning there were more people from different ethnic backgrounds, a lot of people from different parts of the world, which enhanced the international experience and widened my worldview. SeAMK alo uses very mixed schedule, and the lectures were not ordered in routine manner. For example, you could expect one class to be on Monday morning, next time it could happen on Thursday noon. This was something which felt difficult for me. Perhaps, because I am used to having a routine schedule in high school and in my home university, where the future is predictable, and you know that you will always have the same lectures at the same time in the same weekdays. It was a hard thing to get used to SeAMK schedule. But I would not say that it is wrong to have such type of schedule. It was just something new to me, he says.
According to Ernestas, SeAMK lecturers were also much more open to help and ready to give up their free time to help students after classes if they struggle with some questions.
Thesis in English and evaluated by both universities
He was satisfied with the level of English language skills and the friendliness not only of SeAMK lecturers and staff but also the local people.
– The studies and infrastructure were very suitable for those who don’t speak local language. Not only the lecturers but staff and local people spoke English very well. Also, the attention level and care of lecturers and especially SeAMK administration was very nice. Everyone was polite, friendly and helpful, making you feel important and needed, Ernestas says.
In the double degree programme, the final thesis has to be done in English and it is evaluated by both universities, which means that the process differs from the usual one. According to Ernestas, this might require some extra work or at least some extra attention to thesis process.
– This was my first thesis I ever wrote, so I don’t know what it would’ve been if I wrote only for my home university to evaluate. However, I can say that I tried harder than I probably would’ve, because I needed to meet the requirements and present myself in the best possible way for both universities, displaying the level I achieved while studying in both universities. Bureaucracy wise, SeAMK’s International Education Services team and supervisor helped me a lot, making the process as smooth as possible.
New skills beneficial in the future working life
Studying towards international double degree develop different kind of international skills, which can be beneficial in the future working life. Ernestas has developed his cultural understanding, language skills, leadership and time management skills. He is already able to utilise all these in his current work.
– Studying with such a vast variety of students from all around the world really widened my worldview. I became much more open for other people’s opinions, understanding and customs. I am now able to cooperate with people regardless of their origin or background. Also studying in English was the first time when I had to fully rely on my English language skills, because there was no one around who spoke my native language. With no room to give up, I was forced to use English language. I am now absolutely confident in my English skills, and I am able to trust it and use it in my everyday life.
The most important skill Ernestas acquired was leadership and time management.
– With multitude of group assignments, where I was the leader of an international team, I had to, and I did manage the distribution of tasks, enforcement deadlines, productive work ethic, fair management of each members’ strengths and weaknesses, and ensuring respect and wellbeing of each team member in order to execute given task in our best ability and bring the best result, he recalls.
– Indeed, I am benefiting from the skills I have developed over the course of my double degree studies. I am now working with clients from several countries, and I have to use all the languages I know, on everyday basis. I must implement work ethic and use knowledge I acquired during Cross-Cultural Business class at SeAMK to meet my, and my client base goals and to reach desired results.
Ernestas is satisfied with his experience of double degree programme and would recommend it to other students as well.
– I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to have a real international experience and the double degree programme is the best choice to start with. The achievements which can be reached, the friendships and networks gained, memories which will last forever, and the knowledge and skillset learned will give everyone much better start not only in their career path but also in life in general, Ernestas concludes.