From one seaside town to another: Mickaël Magnan came to study in Oulu from the coast of Brittany

Mickaël Magnan has lived all his life close to the sea in a small town in Brittany, France. Mickaël grew up right on the coast in Douarnenez, a fishing town with a population of 15,000 people, and the furthest distance he ever lived from his home was when he was studying for his Bachelor’s degree, about 70 kilometers away–that is, before he came to Oulu.

Mickaël says he was always set on the idea of studying in an international setting in the Nordic countries.

“Finland was always a strong choice for me. I feel that the Finnish culture and general mentality suits my disposition really well,” Mickaël says.

When asked what the Finnish mentality means for him, Mickaël brings up the usual stuff like shyness and personal space.

“I really like the respect for personal space here, and the way people are laid-back and less intrusive. By French standards, I’m really shy, which is why I feel at ease here. But it is really easy to make friends. People may be more quiet, but they are very welcoming and open-minded,” Mickaël says.

Mickaël is a metalhead and was already familiar with Finnish music, like Nightwish. Having some idea of the country he was coming to made it easier for him to settle in, like the fact that Oulu is another seaside town. 

“I like that in Finland many towns and bigger cities are right on the sea, like Oulu. It’s reassuring to me. Everyone says Oulu is a small place, but to me, coming from Douarnenez, it seems big,” Mickaël says with a smile.

Mickaël studies International Business Management in the University of Oulu. He did his Bachelor’s in accounting and management, and the programme was mostly focused on accounting. Mickaël says he is more interested in management, maybe in the music industry or technology, but he is still charting his path, career-wise.

“I think that in general business management and studying it in an international context is particularly relevant. It gives tools for a deeper understanding of the organizational world and of life in this complex, different and interesting globalized world.”

Mickaël says that the Finnish education system is very different from what he was used to in France, and at first it was difficult for him to adapt. 

“There is a high level of freedom in how you schedule your studies here. I have significantly less lectures here than in France, but more personal work to do. I do think that is very important in developing independence and responsibility,” Mickaël muses.

Mickaël --who has a solid command of English--says that studying in this kind of environment really helped him develop his social skills as well as his language skills quickly. He also joined the UniOulu Ambassador Programme to be involved and active in the life of the university.

“After one week in Oulu I already noticed a significant improvement in my social and language skills. Just having to speak English daily makes such a difference. I initially didn’t think about joining the Ambassador programme, because I was concerned it might be a bit much to be involved in that and study at the same time. But I did join it eventually, and it’s not work-heavy at all. It’s a great way to meet many people from different countries and cultures,” Mickaël says.

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Last updated: 12.6.2020