Keep your head frosty and your heart fiery

Long Le made the journey from his native Vietnam to Finland in the far north when he was not yet 20 years old. Long arrived in the town of Joensuu four years ago to get his Bachelor’s degree, and he is continuing his academic career by starting his Master’s programme in International Business Management at the University of Oulu.

Friendly and full of energy, Long says his time in Finland has been very fulfilling, if not the obvious path for a young Vietnamese student.

“In Vietnam, if you choose to pursue a traditional career, like a policeman, or a doctor, or a teacher, education is free. So, many people pick their careers in what they can afford to study. My mother and father are both academics and they agreed to let me have the future I want,” Long says.

Long’s father worked for a German company in the coffee industry and he had an understanding of the importance of studying and working in an international setting. Long says he travelled a lot with his parents when he was younger and encouraged him to try different things.

“They allowed me to try everything I wanted to, like math, music, art, languages. Turns out I am terrible at science, like physics, but I do have a gift for language and communicating. So, I started thinking about a career in diplomacy, or consulting, maybe politics, and I’ve always been interested in business.”

Still, it was a bold choice to come to Finland in the first place. Long says with a laugh that he had two reasons for coming here, “one adult and one childish.”

“The adult reason was that the tuition was still free for foreigners at that time. And the childish reason is that when I was nine years old, I saw an actor play Santa Claus in Vietnam and he told me that Santa lives in Finland!”

After getting his Bachelor’s degree in Joensuu, Long had his internship in Paris. Not long after, Long decided he needed to come back to Finland and continue his studies. He had a few options for his Master’s programme, but he had a very nice experience with the University of Oulu staff, which gave him a very good first impression. Knowing Finnish culture and what it is like to study here, he wanted to take part in the Ambassador Programme and help others who are making the jump to study in the north, to get some of that Arctic Attitude.

And the advice he’ll give them? “Keep your head frosty and your heart fiery,” Long says with a big smile.

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Last updated: 12.6.2020