Finnish – Russian Cultural Exchange in St. Petersburg
I´m writing on the behalf of the whole International Business course in the St.Petersburg. The main reason for our course was to meet some Russian students, to learn Russian business culture and actually to make some connection preparing for the future. Before leaving to St.Petersburg we got some pre material about Finnish companies operating in Russia.
Our trip began with a long train ride to St.Petersburg (about 6 hours from Helsinki). We got in during the day time and our coordinator showed us our accommodations. We were placed on the IMOP center which is a part of St.Petersburg State Polytechnical University. The rooms were very nice and clean. After dropping our stuff we got a tour from a Finnish exchange student Oleg. He showed us the cafeteria and classes. The part of University where we stayed at was very nice and also modern. IMOP is also the part of Polytechnic were the exchange students stay.
On Sunday we had a tour around St.Petersburg which was very teaching and helping to understand Russian history and culture. St.Petersburg is the heart of Russian culture and it has everything for everybody, such as museums, fortresses, canals, old infrastructure, beautiful metro halls and so on. We also visited some local cafeteria and got back to our apartment.The very next day started our studies. We formed groups with Russian students; two Finnish students and two Russian students. These were our working groups for the next 5 days. The Russian students were about our age (between 20-23 years) but they were mostly studying their 4th year in the University. All of the students involved with this course were studying business.
The first subject was comparing the differences of Russian and Finnish business/family culture, comparing such things as; individualism/collectivism, femininity/masculinity, power distance and risk avoidance. The second subject was business plans. Every group was set to make their own business plan during ongoing economic situation. We also had some speaker from Swedbank telling about problems what Russian economy is going to meet and is already dealing with. I found this lecture very interesting. The third day we also had an excursion to Sokos Hotel in the centre of St.Petersburg. They talked about the problems they faced at the beginning, such as bureaucracy.
The fourth day we had a marketing day. We had a local marketing company visiting our lecture and telling us about how they managed to market their products efficiently. And the fifth and final day we had group presentation of our past subjects. Each group was picked to present one subject. We got a couple of hours to prepare. After the presentations the teachers evaluated our work and actually put groups in grade order – something that the Finnish students were not used to. After the hard working week we had a big banquet dinner with all kind of Russian dishes which were delicious, and I can say on behalf of the whole Finnish group that this week was one of the best in school history.
I want to thank FIRST (Finnish – Russian Student Exchange Programme) co-ordinated by CIMO who gave us an opportunity to learn new things about our Eastern neighbor and make lifetime connections. I also want to thank our Russian friends and St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University which gave us the opportunity to stay in the IMOP and learn more about Russian business culture.
Christoffer Anttila – TAMK Degree Programme in International Business