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Oklahoma State University
Center for Advanced Global Leadership and Engagement (CAGLE)

Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University

November 2018 - Graduate

Hannah Guðmundsdóttir


Our international student of the month for November is Hrafnhildur Helga Guðmundsdóttir but in Oklahoma she goes by her nickname Hannah “While traveling in Japan a few years ago I accidentally "got stuck" with the name Hannah, a mispronunciation by my Japanese friends. Since then I've stuck to that name when being somewhere away from home, so here at OSU I'm known as Hannah. Having an old and typical Icelandic name doesn't make it easy to introduce yourself internationally but still I'm proud to have a name that's unique and resembles my culture and language well.”

Hannah comes from Iceland, an island in the middle of the North Atlantic which many people didn't knew existed until few years ago. She mentions about her country “Icelanders have a way of making an entrance, so we introduced ourselves to the world's headlines 8-10 years ago by having a major financial crisis and erupting volcanic ash stopping the whole of Europe's air traffic for a couple weeks. Even though we're only a population of 350.000 people, we don't consider ourselves to be small in any way. That being said, we're the "Per Capita" champion of the world. We pride ourselves to be the happiest nation in the world per capita, the most authors and readers per capita, the most Miss World and World's Strongest Man winners per capita in the world and quite unfortunately also with the highest intake of antidepressants per capita in the world. The last one probably being due to our 5 hours of effective daylight during midwinter.”

The master student continues by mentioning that “Iceland is rich in natural beauty, with northern lights and midnight sun, which I appreciate to the fullest. But with that beautiful nature also comes the unharnessed power of nature. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and rough storms are quite common. Due to how the forces of nature has affected and shaped our life, we Icelanders have learned to be really adjustable and laid back. I'd say I have a typical Icelandic mindset. I try to think in solutions rather than in problems, I take things and myself moderately seriously while trying to enjoy myself and have humor in whatever task I decide to take on. If we had an official slogan, it would be "Þetta reddast", which translates as "it will all work out in the end" and without a doubt sums up the way Icelanders approach life.”

Best memories/experiences at OSU

Hannah decided to come to OSU because “I wanted to go somewhere I hadn't been before and where I wouldn't be likely to visit without a specific reason. I'm also a huge horse lover, so the western cowboy atmosphere and strong connection the American heritage was a big influence why I ended up here. And what a lucky decision that was! I've gotten to know some of the most wonderful people here and I love how people here follow all these small traditions and customs.”

When talking about her best memories at OSU our international student of the month mentions “Everyone here has such a friendly and welcoming spirit so I haven't gotten a bit homesick the whole time. I've enjoyed getting to know so many great MBA students and joining them to see the Cowboys football games, which is in my opinion it’s the typical American experience. Even though the highlight of the games for me is when the spirit rider, Bullet comes out after each touchdown, I thoroughly enjoy the whole excitement and atmosphere around those game days. I also have been around the CAGLE, to assist in the organization of a spring break program to Iceland in 2019.”

When describing our exchange student, Dr. Jose Sagarnaga mentions "Even though Hannah's stay at OSU has been short, she has been an extraordinary student and an amazing person to work with. Hannah is always helping out when needed and she is never afraid of a new challenge. She is already an accomplished entrepreneur and we anticipate more professional triumphs in the near future."

Accomplishments and Hobbies

When talking about what defines her, Hannah talks about her core values and personality “The quote I try to live by is the Latin quote "Aut viam inveniam aut faciam", which means "I shall either find a way or make one". The phrase pretty much sums up my most important personality traits which are persistence, patience and assertiveness. When I decide upon a task, I go after it and try to find ways to make the impossible possible. I'm also keen to take on way too many responsibilities without realizing but I seem to work well under pressure, since somehow I manage to finish my tasks in time. I believe that I've gained those qualities from my work with horses throughout my life. I'm a massive horse enthusiast and actually my undergraduate degree is Equine Science. I have around 15 Icelandic horses back home and spend all of my free time (and every penny) around horses. Being around them has both taught me the most important life lessons and also been my therapy through the years, where I go to relax and forget my worries.”

To end Hannah would like to talk about the importance of travel and positive international relations “Being from such a small country, I've always though globally in terms of life fulfilment. I have a strong connection to Iceland and will always want to reside there long-term, but still I like to know what the world has to offer. I've travelled quite a bit and I can't emphasis it enough how important I think it is to broaden your perspective by traveling and getting involved in different cultures. After all, we're all human beings who have so many hopes and desire in common despite having different cultures. I think everyone should go out and experiencing that kind of connection to the international community.”

Hannah Guðmundsdóttir

Hannah Guðmundsdóttir

Hannah Guðmundsdóttir

Hannah Guðmundsdóttir