Canadian students and lecturers get to know the FHS St.Gallen and Eastern Switzerland

Deutsche Version

Urs-Peter Zwingli

Business students at the FHS St.Gallen have the option of doing an exchange at 63 educational institutions around the world. It is hoped that their foreign counterparts see St.Gallen as an equally attractive place to study and live. A visit by a group of Canadian students and lecturers provided a good opportunity to put this to the test. During their stay, they were able to learn more about the FHS St. Gallen and Eastern Switzerland’s economy and culture.

«For some of our students, this is the first time they have been to Europe. Their visit to the FHS gives them the perfect opportunity to experience a different culture,» says the Canadian professor of business Kevin de Wolde. Professor de Wolde visited the FHS St.Gallen for four days in mid-May together with 12 lecturers and students from the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).

The UFV, situated not far from Vancouver, is a long-standing international partner of the FHS Business School. The department maintains international partnerships with 63 educational institutions. «Around 35 business students from St.Gallen complete an exchange semester somewhere in the world each year,» says Mathias Kleiner, International Relations Manager at the FHS St. Gallen. In order to guarantee the exchange places for the FHS students and, on the flip side, attract international students from the partner institutions, it is important to present the FHS St.Gallen as an appealing place to study. «In addition, we would like to show the Canadian lecturers and students that Switzerland also derives its economic power from innovative SMEs,» says Kleiner, as there is still a common belief that the Swiss economy is based on cheese, chocolate, watches and banks.

Tours of two Eastern Swiss companies

At their home university, the UFV, the Canadian students are all taking the course «Doing Business in Europe». The hands-on experience they gained during their time at the FHS is sure to come in handy for their studies. In addition to attending several lectures by FHS lecturers (in English), the group also visited three companies in Eastern Switzerland: the industrial case manufacturer Plaston in Widnau, the Locher brewery in Appenzell and the embroidery firm Forster Rohner in St.Gallen. «These visits are valuable,» says Professor de Wolde. «They allow the students to see at first hand what the special aspects are of managing a business in the multicultural European market.»

Forster Rohner AG has production sites in China, Romania and Bosnia-Herzegovina, but the company, which was established 1873, still produces embroidery at its headquarters in the east of St.Gallen city. The products are turned into designer clothing by fashion companies such as Dior, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana. Hans-Peter Waibel, CFO of Forster Rohner AG, explained the company’s structure and strategy to the Canadian students and answered any questions they had. They were then taken on a guided tour of the company archive, where thousands of embroidery patterns are stored. The students also had the chance to visit the production halls to see the state-of-the-art embroidery machines in action. «During our visit to St.Gallen, I have gained an insight into the internal workings of several companies, which has been very interesting,» said Canadian business student Lindon Vanderpol while touring the embroidery company.

Eastern Swiss culture and cuisine

As well as learning about the technical side, the Canadians also became familiar with Eastern Switzerland’s culture, nature and cuisine. They were given a guided tour of St.Gallen, including a visit to the monastery, and they took the cable car up to the Hoher Kasten mountain. At the end of the day, the students joined representatives of the FHS St.Gallen for dinner at the Waldegg restaurant in Teufen.


The main campus of the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) is situated in the town of Abbotsford (population of 130,000), less than an hour’s drive from Vancouver. Some 15,000 students enrol at the UFV each year. It employs around 1400 people in the areas of teaching and administration, making it one of Canada’s biggest universities. The university offers two Master’s and 19 Bachelor’s programs, including in the fields of business, social sciences, psychology, mathematics, criminology and English. In addition to the courses provided on its campus, the UFV also offers 110 online modules. What’s more, the university’s four different locations are home to more than 60 active student associations with sports, social and political themes.

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