Introduce yourself briefly + Three facts about you
My name is Erik Carlson, and I´m about to begin my third year at EBS Helsinki. I´m 19 years old, which makes me one of the youngest students in my class, and I have to admit that I´m quite proud of that.
I´m an avid traveler and I love exploring new cultures, languages, and places. I´ve lived in four different countries and spent around 5 years of my life outside of Finland, which has made my concept of home quite abstract and flexible. When I think about my future, I can see myself moving from country to another, living life to the fullest and succumbing to my wanderlust.
I have a troubled relationship with the winter – I love winter sports, especially downhill skiing and ice skating, yet I hate the winter as a whole! To me Finnish winters are nothing but cold, dark, and wet, but somehow I find myself longing for the coziness of sitting by the window wrapped up in a warm blanked with a cup of Glögg, go figure…
As I´ve spent the last six weeks indoors due to the lockdown here in Madrid, my love for the outdoors has reached a whole new level! There´s nothing more beautiful than untouched nature, either from the top of a mountain after a long hike, or just looking out into the endless Finnish forests. Finnish nature will always have a special place in my heart, no matter where in the world I find myself.
Why did you choose EBS Helsinki for your studies?
I chose EBS Helsinki for my studies because it seemed like the most compatible option for me to continue my studies, since I graduated high school in India and wanted to continue studying Business Administration in an international setting. It was very important for me that the language of my studies would be in English, and being able to experience another country´s education system while attending lectures in my home city Helsinki was a strong factor in choosing EBS.
The possibility to study mainly from home according to my own schedule was another huge advantage to EBS, as it has allowed me to work while studying. I also appreciate the trips to Estonia that we do every semester, as it is a great opportunity to network and make friends while doing my favorite activity in the world – travelling.
You chose Spain, Madrid for your exchange semester, how did you like it there?
I spent two semesters in Madrid, and I loved every second of it (well, except for the seemingly endless quarantine due to Covid-19). I have known for a long time that sooner or later I was going to live in Spain, as I began studying the language in high school and subsequently fell in love with the culture. I chose Madrid as it seemed like the place to be when it comes to Spain, as the city never sleeps and its location is perfect for travelling around the country.
During my stay in Madrid, I have made lifelong friends and memories, and my Spanish language has improved significantly – a couple months in, something in my brain clicked and I was able to understand normal conversation!
I am a huge fan of all aspects of Spain, but especially the friendliness of the people that I met here surprised me. Even though the general level of English spoken here is very limited, I felt like I was a part of the group right from the beginning. Whether it was going out for tapas together with the whole class, or travelling eight hours by bus in order to see the beach just to decide that it was too cold to swim in, Spain has offered me more than I could ever have asked for!
It was also really cool to count how many different nationalities we managed to squeeze into the same small living room at once – the highest number we got to was 14!
What advice would you give to a young student who is thinking about spending a semester/year abroad?
Do it. Seriously, just do it! Trust me, if you´re even remotely interested in living abroad, you will regret not going for the rest of your life! I vividly remember the last day at work before leaving to Spain, and how scary it was that life as I knew it was about to be turned upside down, but I would do it again in a heartbeat!
My second piece of advice is to live with roommates – the more the merrier (I spent my first semester in a flat with 11 other people)! When I arrived in Madrid, I didn´t know a single person within a thousand kilometers, and I had only booked an Airbnb for a week. Luckily my Airbnb roommate turned out to be amazing, and he helped me get a local SIM card, transport card and other simple things that I was unable to do myself due to the language barrier. I browsed through dozens of apartments and sent messages seemingly to no avail, until two days before my Airbnb would run out when I found this nice-looking flat right in the center of the city on Facebook. When I arrived for my viewing, I saw a very international group of people in the living room, and I instantly knew that this was exactly what I wanted.
We quickly became good friends, and right now as I am typing this, two of these people have become some of my closest friends in the world and are sitting across the table from me. We now live in another apartment that we moved into together as the semesters changed, and I couldn´t be happier! My life would be very different had I not picked that original apartment even though the number of roommates initially intimidated me.
Last but not least – make sure to be open minded and get out of your comfort zone! Sure, it might not feel natural to have lectures from 4pm to 10pm every night, but don´t dwell on how different to home it is, instead try it out and you´ll enjoy it wholeheartedly!
How do you see the world in 20 years?
The world will be much more globalized, with people moving between countries for studies and work routinely. The largest companies in 20 years’ time have probably not been invented yet, as the competition in the business world keeps on increasing every year. Perhaps they´ll finally have invented the hoverboard!
Artificial intelligence will be a household concept, and I believe that we´ll all have some kind of advanced robotics at home. I think that the internet of things will take off, making our lives easier and us lazier, and we won´t even have to drive our own cars!
I also see Virtual Reality becoming so realistic that it is next to impossible to distinguish from real life
What are your hobbies?
I´m a huge fan of all types of racket sports including badminton and tennis, and during my time in Madrid I´ve also picked up padel. I find hiking with friends to be incredibly fun and rewarding, and if I´m feeling lazy then a picnic in the park is an effortless way to make any day great!
What’s the number 1 thing on your to-do list that you definitely want to do in your life?
Travel to space, although it is very difficult to say whether that´ll be possible during my lifetime, so maybe I should come up with something more realistic…
One day I´m going to get on a motorcycle and do a long road trip. I´m thinking something exotic like crossing the deserts of Africa, or maybe riding through the Himalayas!
Quote that you live by?
You miss 100% of the shots you don´t take – Wayne Gretzky
Editor: Tea Teesalu