From an impossible dream to living the dream

In 2015 Cristopher Fuentes was one of the first exchange students from our partner university in Talca, Chile, to study abroad at HAW Hamburg. He came for a semester that was to become the starting point for a totally new life.

Man vor Sydney Harbor Bridge

Cristopher Fuentes, Talca

'Talca is my home town and I studied Business Management there for five years. I come from a normal family and was the first person in my family to go to university. When I was in high school I heard stories about studying abroad and that all seemed impossible to me at the time. I studied a bit of German culture and language, as it was my dream to go to Germany. At university I took A1 German, but my teacher told me there were no scholarship opportunities to study in Germany for my degree programme. And then, three years later, there was! I signed up and was accepted and found myself taking international business classes at HAW Hamburg.

The first thing I did when I got home after my semester in Hamburg was to have dinner with my dear family and tell them all about my experience. I told them that it had forever changed the way I would see the world and that I just wanted to finish my degree as quickly as possible, so I could travel and explore more of the world. They noticed a real change in me, and my friends too; something different in my personality – in a good way.

My graduation day is one of those days I will always remember. It wasn’t just my goal, it was my family’s goal, as I was the first person with a university degree and that made my parents very proud. I started work as Head of Supply Chain and Logistics for a supermarket chain and found the retail industry exciting and full of challenges. I like to work with people and help customers to feel happy. I opened new branches from scratch all around Chile, making sure they had all they needed before they opened to the public.

Going for the dream

After eighteen months I quit my job, because I wanted to travel the world again, specifically to New Zealand. I got a Work and Holiday Visa for one year and just got on a plane and went. I bought a car and travelled all around New Zealand, working sometimes on farms with other backpackers. It was there that I realized that I didn’t need to work in business to be happy. I was shaping my life on my own terms and doing whatever I wanted. At that moment I just felt happy and kind of free. That was when I decided that if I wanted to make this my life I needed to find a source of income that allowed me to keep travelling without having to work '9-to-5'. I discovered the stock market and the Futures contracts, specifically the DAX index futures of the German economy. My studies about the financial markets back home in Talca helped me to make this decision. I started to learn about the market and developed new skills that allowed me to read the German economy better. Before my year in New Zealand was over, I moved to Australia, where I am currently living and where I can finally say I live free. I have my own online businesses, an educational business and the futures market and I feel really happy.

Skills learned abroad

I think many people see the opportunity to study abroad as a way to build a professional career, and they are right. But it is more than that. It is an incredible experience, where every day is full of surprises. I would say to students thinking about it: Do not close yourself to all the experiences that come with studying abroad and enjoy every day. My semester in Hamburg gave me so many skills that I still use: my English, dealing with challenges and people in a different language, having more empathy with other people and being open-minded, and never judging towards others.

But the most important skill that I gained, is to be ambitious and to seek great goals in my life. Study abroad gave me the strength that I have now. I wouldn’t say that I’m not working as a business manager because I hated it. I love what I studied, but my time in Germany opened my eyes and now I see life differently. I want to enjoy every day discovering new places, people, cultures, food and experiences. I would also like to manage my own physical business in the future. If possible, I would like to have my own cafe-bar in Germany, and I’m starting to work on a business plan for it. I’m thinking it would be a great place to have a reunion with all my Erasmus friends I met during my semester at HAW Hamburg and who are still very close to my heart.'


Ingrid Weatherall
International Office