Posts in the St Petersburg category

Text and photos: Luka Saksio, Student of Degree Programme in Building Services Engineering, TAMK

(Talotekniikka, LVI)


One Russian Plus One Finn Equals More Than Two

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral

We had an amazing opportunity to visit St. Petersburg from March 18th to March 24th 2018 with a group of people participating a course about cultural diversity. Our group, hopping to Allegro train, going from Finland to Russia, included a mix of people from different degree programmes from Tampere University of Applied Sciences and from Helsinki University Aleksanteri Institute. All of us more or less unknown to each other, all somehow unfamiliar with the culture of Russia.

The students from Russia participating this project were from North-West Institute of Management and from ITMO University. On the second evening of the trip, we had a lovely dinner in a local Georgian restaurant.

It was one of our first opportunities to get to know the Russian students who were participating in our project. At this moment already, they all turned out to be very talkative and not at all introverted, as I first had assumed for some reason. Although, many of them said they aren’t normally so very loquacious, it seemed like they were much more talkative than us Finns. That’s something depending on the person, of course, but this is how it first seemed like to me.

Great views, great population and great Putin

Over the Expectations

Lots of nice walking and wandering around the city was included in the trip.

The trip proved out to be more than just a school trip, at least for me – it was a very important experience. The fluency of spoken English and the skills for cooperation with other people really evolved in me during the stay, both of which I consider really important factors in working life. It was very easy but still so very challenging at the same time having to cooperate with foreign people all week, with them having their own accents, different levels of spoken English and the weird features of their cultures. But eventually, as we got to know each other a little bit better, it all started to flow spontaneously and everyone found the common tune.

Real-life Project Work

As we had had the time to get to know each other, we were separated to smaller groups and then given different kinds of project works concerning an all-new way (at least for most of us) to approach businesses: via business model canvas. Each group consisted of different nationalities (there were others too than only Finns and Russians), which made the project even more interesting. After a little theory about the business model canvas, it became clear to us how to use it as a tool to understand every aspect of the business and innovate new things for our project companies.

The Business Model Canvas for Bonava.

My group got Bonava as the project company. It’s a construction company (or a housing company as they call it) that operates in Scandinavian countries and in St. Petersburg. As a contact person for the company we had Pekka Eskola, a development manager of Bonava in St. Petersburg. To figure out new, out of the box innovations for the company, we were told several times by teachers and Pekka himself to throw every crazy idea on the canvas that crosses our minds, and then consider letting some of the worst ones go afterwards.

At first that was kind of hard for us, but as we got moving with the task, the canvas started to get filled of ideas. We got help during the process from the teachers and Pekka, and finally succeeded to make a full canvas and a complete story to support it. I think Pekka liked the presentation we gave him at the Bonava headquarters, as we managed to figure out almost everything their development team had came up with during the past few years, and even a little more.

Success in Every Way

People from RANEPA, ITMO, TAMK and University of Helsinki

The group attending the project was full of unbelievably cooperative and skillful people. I could’ve never thought that mixing several cultures would end up with a project task as big as this having done absolutely wonderful works that I know will help the companies in their businesses in the future.

As a conclusion, the trip was a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime experience for each and everyone of us involved. Learning about cultural differences in theory is nothing compared to a real-life practice like this. Even just small conversations in a foreign language sets people in a mood of receiving information almost as easily as in their own language, and personally getting to know foreign people they’re working with as a group, makes things really easy. On top of the unique chance of getting to work with people from different cultures, I believe everyone of us made some long-lasting friendships during the trip that will never be forgotten.

Summer School 2015

TAMK summer school 2015 received 25 students in the Basics of Finnish summer school and 18 students in Tampere-St. Petersburg summer school. Basics of Finnish summer course was held on 3rd – 14th August whereas Tampere-St. Petersburg course took place on 10th – 17th August.

Basics of Finnish summer school participants in classroom

Basics of Finnish students in classroom

The free-time activities for this year’s Basics of Finnish summer school started off with Viikinsaari Island trip on the first day of the course. On the consecutive days the students were taken to Kick-biking in Kauppi, visit to Vapriikki Museum, bowling in Kauppi bowling alley, Pyynikki observation tower visit, teamwork exercises in Flowpark Varala, Finnish food tasting in TAMK, Nordic walking and Sarkänniemi amusement park trip. The design and the flow of the free-time activities was well appreciated by the students with constructive suggestions for our future summer schools which we collected from the students through our feedback form.

Basics of Finnish students at Flowpark

Summer school students in Flowpark

On the first day of Tampere-St. Petersburg summer school (10th August) we had a combined free-time programme in Flowpark Varala with both Basics of Finnish and Tampere-St. Petersburg participants. Participants from both the courses were together in the Finnish food tasting on 11th August from where the St. Petersburg participants left to Marimekko for a visit and presentation from company representative. Tampere-St. Petersburg participants also went to Vapriikki Museum on the following day.

Summer school participants in St. Petersburg

Summer school participants in St. Petersburg

On 13th August, Tampere-St. Petersburg participants left for Helsinki and eventually to St. Petersburg where they were accommodated to Hotel Moscow throughout their stay. St. Petersburg free time activity programme included guided bus tour of the City, cruise on rivers and canals, visit to Catherine’s palace, guided tour to State Hermitage Museum, and company visits.

As a farewell programme for the students, we held a dinner party in ‘Nepali Kitchen’, a Nepali restaurant in Tampere. Everyone celebrated their last day at summer school there as some of the students were in TAMK only for the summer school duration. On the other hand, TAMK summer schools were also joined by exchange students and degree students (degree students for Tampere-St. Petersburg course) who are continuing their studies in TAMK.


Text: Nikesh Timilsina

Photos: Nikesh Timilsina, Ursula Helsky-Lehtola, Michel Faas and Camilla Kalevo