Blog 6: Semester end
As the majority of the people on my campus head home for winter break, I am now eager to finish my first semester at VIA. Looking back, I am grateful for the opportunity to study abroad and the great experiences I've had and anticipate having in the future.
Before starting winter break, I was able to do a few trail exams to become aquatinted with the testing process at VIA. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the exam format is entirely different from what I have experienced at NWCC. The exam is administered as a case study covering all five course subjects. You are given the case twenty-four hours before the release of the exam questions to prepare notes and different models that you believe will be on the exam. When the twenty-four hours have passed, you are given the exam questions with five hours to submit the case. After completing a few trial exams, I can honestly say this form of testing is quite difficult as there is no clear answer for a case. Simply memorizing learning objective will not yield a high mark as the test is focused on understanding when to apply relevant models in a specific context over just remembering the models.
I believe the best way to handle this form of an exam is to create a blueprint covering relevant models and theories for each subject and segmenting them based on how they are applicable. By having a pre-made template of the models and theories used in the class, I can hopefully reduce the amount of time spent looking for information and references. This will allow me to focus more effort towards formulating answers which hopefully will result in a better mark as time was my main concern on the trial exams.
Apart from preparing for my midterm exams, I am also well into my transition/training to become vice president of finance for AIESEC at VIA. I am currently trying to get a head start on preparing the quarterly financial reports for the local committee as the deadline is in the same week as my exams. Similarly, I will also need to close the books and complete the VAT report during the first week of each month. These activities do provide a slight learning curve and will require a fair amount of problem-solving to ensure all documents are formulated correctly. I am thankful to have taken a fair amount of the accounting and finance course offered at NWCC as they have provided me with a foundation of knowledge to start on. If I did not have a strong foundation to start on, I do not believe I would have had the confidence, or ability to apply for this position.
Blog 5: Time Management
My classes and extracurricular activities are now starting to pick up steam as I move into the second half of the semester. I, now more than ever, will need to have effective time management skills to reach my goals and obligations. Time management is a skill I feel I was able to develop a foundation for during my time at NWCC truly. This is because NWCC was my first post-secondary experience in which I was fully accountable for my actions in regards to studying and meeting deadlines. Thus I was able to gain experience in prioritizing my tasks based on importance and deadlines.
I have now been taking Danish lessons for nearly three weeks and can honestly say they are more challenging than I initially anticipated. The Danish lessons are designed for students who already have experience learning a second language, and as a result, the learning curve is quite steep for a mono-linguist. Most of my difficulties have stemmed from the actual pronunciation when speaking danish over being able to understand or write the language. Danish has many different sounds and pronunciations in its alphabet that are simply not found in English. Thus I often am not able to pronounce the subtle differences between letters such as O, Å, Ø, and Æ at this time. Overall, I am enjoying the Danish lessons but now realize that for me to truly learn the language, I will need to spend a significant amount of time practicing outside of class.
During my short time in AIESEC, I had the great opportunity to apply and participated in the elections to become a vice president in my local committee's executive board. The executive board is composed of various positions for the different departments of the organization. These positions include VP of incoming global talent, incoming global volunteer, outgoing global entrepreneur, outgoing global volunteer, talent management, marketing, and finance. The application process included answering questions on the application form, completing personality tests such as the Myers Briggs test, and completing a five-minute speech followed by fifteen minutes of questions.
After this process, I have the opportunity to be the VP of finance for my local committee. I will start my term in mid-January after being fully trained by the current VP and by attending conferences on position. My responsibility will include bookkeeping, making quarterly financial statements and overall ensure the portability of the local committee. I look for to this opportunity as I believe it will be a challenging experience that will allow me to further develop my accounting/finance skill through real-world application.
Blog 4: Semester Midpoint
I have just reached the halfway mark of my first semester at VIA, and so far this experience has given me several opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. I am now looking forward to my first set of exams and my extracurricular activities for the remainder of the semester.
With my first set of exams starting shortly I am unsure of what to expect as the educational system is quite different from what I am use to. The exam is given in a case study format that will require the student to use relevant course material from all five classes in the case. I believe this test format will be more challenging as I will not have a specific section to study for the exam but will need a broader knowledge of all courses before taking it. This type of examination will also test my ability to correlate multiple subjects with each other to solve the case. Overall, this type of test will be a positive experience as I will need a greater understanding of the course material and not just good short-term memory.
Outside of classes, I spend a significant amount of time volunteering for AIESEC. AIESEC is an international NGO that focuses on bringing people with different backgrounds together through finding and facilitating internships, volunteer, and entrepreneurial opportunities abroad. I am a member of the incoming exchange team at VIA which has jurisdiction of Horsens, Billund, Vejle, Tørring, and Skanderborg. Our responsibility is to find and partner with suitable companies in central Jutland that are open to having international talent either intern or volunteer in their organizations. After this partnership is formed, it is our responsibility to facilitate the process required for a person to intern or volunteer in Denmark. This can include finding accommodations, helping with the Visa/residence permit, and provide an overall a smooth transition for the person who is interning/volunteering in Denmark.
At this time my job within AIESEC has largely involved doing market research on potential companies within my area. After finding suitable companies, I will contact them usually through cold calling to try and set up an in-person meeting to discuss the organization in greater detail. I have not yet presented to a company, but I am looking forward to my first meeting which is in two weeks time. This experience in AIESEC will allow me to significantly improve my sales and presenting skills through having constant practice with company meetings hopefully being booked for each week moving forward. This experience will teach me how to present myself professionally as I am contacting these companies as a potential partner and not as a university student.
Blog 3: Settled in
I have been living in Denmark for over a month now and have gotten used to my new school and surroundings. My daily routine is in place, and I am now looking forward to upcoming school projects and extracurricular activities to fill my time with.
I will be starting my first major project of the school year shortly which is referred to as the CA1. This project involves a company presenting their current circumstances and issues they would like to resolve to the class. The project is overall focused on developing a marketing and innovation strategy to address a real company current environment. From this point, our assigned groups will need to construct a schedule and a plan to reach the specific milestones set for us. We will need to reach these milestones by the set deadlines to move forward in the project. At the end of the project, the top groups will further refine and present their solutions to the class and company.
I am looking forward to this project as I think it will provide a unique learning experience for me. This is because I will need to understand the problems that are currently facing a real business and try and find suctions for them. I believe this will be a good learning opportunity as it is based on real current problems and not predefined problems in a case study.
Outside of class, I had recently signed up for Danish lessons and will be starting them in early October. These lessons are offered through the local municipality and are independent of VIA. The Danish lessons are quite flexible in timing allowing me to choose to take them twice a week from 5-7:30 or on Saturdays from12-5. The Danish lessons offered will take approximately 12-18 months to complete and is based on four-month modules. They will start with basics pronunciation and move towards grammar and writing, followed by a standardized test given to all language school in Denmark. I look forward to taking these lessons as it will allow me to have a better internship or possible job opportunities in the future.
VIA also offers a variety of different workshops and courses that you can take outside of your studies. These can range from animation classes to public speaking. I have recently signed up for a six-week course on entrepreneurship and innovation. This course will focus on developing the skills necessary to be a successful entrepreneur such as formulating business plans, prototyping, networking and pitching your ideas. This course will be approximately three hours per week and will provide great opportunities to meet and network with different people. I believe it is important to take advantage of these extra courses/workshops as they will only compliment your education and improve your profile moving forward
Blog 2: Settling in
I had just concluded my second week of classes at VIA, and I am slowly settling into my new life in Denmark. Many of my initial concerns have faded since starting class and getting used to my new surroundings. I have been able to gain a better insight into Danish culture and the international culture that VIA strives to facilitate.
The educational system at VIA is fairly different from what I have experienced before in Canada. The courses are more structured to facilitate constant group work and an open discussion between the professor and the student. I enjoy this system as it pushes the student to think more critically and not just remember facts. This style of learning reflects the higher stages of Bloom’s taxonomy which is taught in several of NWCC’s business classes. The goal of my courses is to push students towards the analyzing stage in the pyramid and to go past simply remembering facts and formulas.
The idea of pushing students to be able to analyze and contribute new ideas and solutions to real world problems is a significant part of the curriculum at VIA. This is demonstrated through the requirement of a minimum 12-week internship with a company in the final semester that can be done either locally or abroad. For this reason, my classrooms are located in the newest addition to the University which is a joint space that houses many different company offices.
Outside of class, I have been able to experience and learn significantly about many different countries and their economic, political and social climate through discussions with various peoples around the campus. Danes are the minority in my program as most students in my class and around campus have come from varying parts of Europe. I believe this is a great learning experience as it will allow me to gain further insight into the world outside of western culture. This will be a significant asset in my future as businesses continue to expand across borders and demand that employees have a globalized view.
I hope to make the most of my time in Denmark through the various extracurricular courses and clubs offered to students. As an international student, I am given the opportunity to receive free Danish lessons through the local municipality. These lessons are very flexible in time and can easily fit around my main courses through evening or Saturday classes. This is something I look forward to taking as my Grandfather is Danish, and it would be great to speak to him in his native language.
One organizational that I am particularly interested in, which is also in Canada is AEISEC. This is the largest youth-run organization which focuses on developing leadership skills, networking, and volunteer experience. Through this organization, I will have access to a greater amount of opportunities to possibly intern or volunteer abroad. I believe it is important to be active in organizations like this as volunteer experience is becoming increasingly important when searching for a job after school. I would encourage all NWCC students to fully take advantage of the many extracurricular activities and events offered at the campus and surrounding area. The benefits of participating in your local community will defiantly compound and have a positive impact on your future.
Introduction: Landing in Denmark
Since arriving in Denmark, I can honestly say I have felt quite an uplifting sense of excitement. I am truly looking forward to both the educational and the personal growth opportunities that I will experience during my time abroad.
I am excited to see how business is conducted in a European country and how it compares to Canada. The differences between the two cultures and specifically the management/human relation styles are something I look forward to seeing first-hand.
I believe that gaining an international perspective on business is very important as more companies expand across borders and the internet continues to bring people closer together. Many business courses at NWCC teach that globalization will continue to shape the future climate in business. This is something that I believe is true and will remain conscious of moving forward in my education.
Even though I am very excited about this opportunity to study abroad, I have felt some anxiety since arriving. I know this is a normal feeling that mainly comes from the uncertainty around a new experience. Fortunately, over time most of these uncertainties will fade when I gain more experience and do more research. In time, I will no longer be wondering where the grocery store is, what bike route to take, or how to use the school website. Dealing with ambiguity is a lesson that is taught in several of my past business courses and is one I believe is necessary for success.
I believe that my time at NWCC has prepared me to take this opportunity through providing me with a foundation of self-discipline. This is mainly due to the organizational skills that I have learned over my two years in the Business Administration diploma program. By needing to keep track of multiple assignments and finding time to study I feel that I have gained a strong foundation to start on. This will allow me to manage my time more efficiently abroad as I hope to improve these skills further.
At this time I can honestly not speak too much of the culture in Denmark and the educational system. Since arriving, most of my day's has been spent in government building requesting forms, filling out forms, and asking if people can repeat what they have said in English. I am excited to start school shortly and begin to experience the culture in Denmark.
Overall, I look forward to both the good experiences and the challenges that I will face during my time in Denmark. I hope to further my education and gain some real-world experience throughout this next chapter in my life.