To summarize the whole autumn

Our host organization was St.Petersburg State University of Service and Economics. Our co-operation started in the first day of our time in St.Petersburg. They welcomed us by meeting us at the trainstation and helping us to get to the accommodation by taxi. They arranged us many nice trips, so that we could see many places in St.Petersburg and near it. We visited Catherines Park and I think it was one of the most beautiful places I have visited.

Our University offered us 6 different courses: International Marketing, International Business, Cross Cultural Communication, Modern Economy of Russia, Corporate Social Responsibility and Russian language. I didn’t take the “International Business”, but the others I took.

It was really interesting to learn more about economy, geography and the potential of Russia. I also found Russian language course really good, after we were divided to two groups and I decided to take part in advanced group. We rehearsed grammar, vocabulary and read texts and learned how to write and speak. Corporate Social Responsibility had so many difficult topics to handle, that I think I will understand it better after a while, there is so many things to think about considering Corporate Social Responsibilities.

I think the International Marketing course wasn’t that much about marketing, In my opinion it was more about markets of Russia and economics also. But nevertheless, the lectures were okay sometimes and we had couple of nice tasks during the classes (for example we had to create our own companies and decide which marketing channels to use etc.).

I learned how to be more patient. If everything doesn’t happen right now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is not going to happen ever. Expressing myself and thoughts in English was also a huge step for me. It was amazingly easy to speak in English and also even joke in a foreign language. I consider myself as a funny person, but it still surprised me how well I was able to “be myself” also by not using my mother language.

I learned to wide my views about doing things, there can be so many different ways of doing things and every one of them can be as right as the ways I have been used to use. By discussing with people from different countries, I have also learned to understand different cultures more. It has also been useful to learn about the historical connections of different countries, because history has an effect to nowadays also.

I think the Autumn was really great time, it was totally worth to go to exchange. I met so many wonderfull people and socialized a lot. I can say I learned a lot not only about other cultures, but to respect the features of “my own”, Finnish culture and roots.

Here in Finland everything is going fine, even though life is a little bit different than in St.Petersburg. I have only a couple of lectures at school left, so I am currently doing my internship. Working full time is really exciting and also quite tiring, because I haven’t used to it yet. I`m learning new things everyday and after 5 months I can finally graduate from my school and get the change to have a real job.

I highly recommend other students to open their eyes and also consider Russia as a good place to go to have an exchange period. One semester is okay to see the surface of Russia, but for deeper understanding I recommend to spend a year in the huge neighbor country of Finland. I didn’t have that much time to travel and see the other parts of Russia, but I think it would be really useful also to see the difference.

I think this was it, thank you all (mom:D) for reading about  my experiences! I recommend you guys to take a train, book a flight or just open the door and with open mind – face the world!

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Too much happened…


I have to say I`m sorry about not blogging that often. I`m already back in Finland, but lets speak about that later. Many things has happened since I wrote last time. Even though last time I wrote that time flies in Piter, last two weeks were quite slow. I think it was mostly because we all already wanted to go home and already missed everything so much. But oh, how much we also had during the last weeks.

We spent Finnish independence day first wit Finns only and then later we offered our traditional food also to our friends from other countries. I don`t remember when was the last time I really celebrated Finlands independece day this well. We had Karelian pastries, rye bread, mashed potatoes with Karelian hot pot. We also watched the movie called Tuntematon Sotilas ( The Unknown Soldier) and listened to Finnish songs.

One Friday we gathered together with huge group (over 20 people) and went to have a limousine ride. It was really cool to visit different sightseeings in the city and just have fun in a limo. It felt like we had our own little private disco in the limo, because of the sofas, lights and music. Little party ever killed nobody. I won`t lie, we had also many other parties. Awesome parties, if I can add. Especially I liked the bars Circus and Rossis in St.Petersburg.

I had also some “serious” things to do during the last weeks , final “exams” at school. Everyone was stressing so much about the last school stuffs, and all the stress for nothing. We graduated with best scores/credits from every course. We got chocolate and nice certificates from teachers and gave flowers and a nice speech (in Russian) to them.

My train trip back to Finland didn`t go like expected. First the train was almost one hour late  (gladly it stopped when we were already in Finland), then we couldn`t go out from the train in Lahti. Haha, we cried and laughed at the same time when the train just continued its way to Helsinki. I went to speak with the conductor about the situation and we should really ask some kind of refund, because the doors just didn`t open to us. We panicked a little bit and then decided to take next train back to Lahti, where my friends boyfriend was still waiting. Suddenly other conductor from the Allegro train said to us that he could give us a ride back to Lahti. Ironically, the train was going back to St. Petersburg. Haha, we joked a little bit that we are going back. When the train was in Lahti, we already were ready to jump off the train. Luckily we managed to do it, and the journey to home could really begin.

It is so weird to be in Finland, it is so dark, warm and silent here..

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Time flies / время летит

Let`s start with the fact, that we have only about 4 weeks left to spend here. Month is not a long time, but it is still enough for some things. We have planned to go to Moscow on 7th of December but we haven`t booked anything yet, so let`s see. To be honest, last week was really exhausting and tiring, because we had school every day (haha, so weird to complain about that, but hey, exchange student`s life…). Like E said, it felt like the Sandman forgot to visit our floor, because others were also tired.

I secretly hoped this week would be better, but huh… Monday was okay, even though I slept, once again, really badly. We had less school than usually, and after the school we went to Galeria shopping center with E.  I just bought socks, but saw a really nice and not that expensive winter jacket. I didn’t buy it yet. We also visited Finnish library and I borrowed a book (called Vadelmavenepakolainen) my friend has once read. After the library we went to Finnish church and met a nice old lady who told about the church in Finnish.

When we came back to dormitory, we noticed the cold air inside the dormitory. The heating was turned off, because of something. I don’t like cold weather at all, especially the fact that it is cold also inside the buildings, makes me mad. There was a note on the wall, that everything should be okay after 9am on Tuesday. To avoid the coldness, we gathered together to the kitchen (which was still warmer than our rooms) and watched a movie called “Lapland Odyssey”. It was my third time to see it, but it still made me laugh. I think our friends from abroad also kind of liked the movie 🙂 It was simply just a movie and the people sitting together in a dark room, but I think it will be a nice memory. Speaking about memories, I also got some negative ones from that day. Because of the heaters went off, there was a nice little pool of water in our floor. You can only guess my reaction to that. Hopefully, my roommate was not here that time. I spend some time drying the floor with a towel which had a hole in it. The best thing you can do in the evening, for sure.

I`m so glad I could sleep in M:s room, because it was warmer than ours. Later also A came to sleep there and we had a nice little “pyjama party” there. Oh, I slept so well that night and also the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, because of course everything wasn’t okay by 9am as promised. Yesterday the water coming from the taps changed colour to brown. No need to say, I wasn’t able to use the shower, because sometimes the water was clear, sometimes yellow and sometimes there was no water at all. Not to mention about hot/warm water.

So that was about the “not that nice things” happened recently. Yesterday (Tuesday) was actually really nice day. We went to visit Terijoki, which is town about 50 kms away from St.Petersburg.  We had a little excursion around the city, and it looked really different than St.Petersburg. Of course, because it was so small town and there was a lot of regular buildings but also a couple of nice churches. The weather was also really nice, couple of minus degrees and sun was shining. It was nice to hear stories about the history and relationship with Russia and Finland. I think the most beautiful moment was when we visited Terijoki beach, and the sun was shining and the ocean was so blue and the sand and grass was frozen. I am glad I had my camera with me.

After Terijoki we drove back to St.Petes and went to see the Saint Isaac`s cathedral. I had visited also last year, but it was still nice to see the church and climb to the top of the church and see the whole city in a beautiful light.

I hope the rest of the time will go without bigger problems (currently waiting for the room to be as warm as it was before and that I could take a proper shower) and we could also get more nice memories of our time here.

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10 Things I like in the life in St.Petersburg

  • People – I`m so glad I chose to spend Autumn semester 2013 in St.Petes. And I feel lucky, because so many wonderful people are here right now with me. Especially I have to thank my awesome team of SPSUSE University – N, D, K, N, E, M, A <3 It has been so easy to talk and be with you straight from the beginning. So many great memories with you, lovely people! Thank you everyone because of you letting me be who I am.
  • “Everything will be okay at the end” – attitude. Eventhough sometimes it feels you have to do and ask for things many times before they happen, everything will go just fine. Here it is not about how things are done, but that at some point everything is okay and problems are solved.
  • Metro – Yesterday I realized once again how much I like the athmosphere in metros. Usually these “speedcars” (as I used to call metro in Finland) are so crowded, that you just can`t control your moves. Yesterday I experienced something totally opposite. We had school in other place and that is why we used the metro line 5 (purple line). Oh, I somehow felt so happy in this metro, because there were just 5 other people sitting (!) with us. It was amazing to actually be able to see the other parts of the metro (usually there is so many people you can just see the people).
  • Dormitory – After last posts problems everything has been quite okay. Best thing is the location, because there is so many nice buildings, restaurants, cafes and other things near. Also our gym is so near, it is easy to walk there.
  • Gym – cheap, cozy = not too fancy, you really can come to Planet Fitness as you are. Good Zumba lessons also.
  • Churches & cathedrals – I can see my favourite “Church of the Savior on Blood” and Kazans Cathedral when I go out of our dormitory. We have been so used to see them every day, but still  I think I`m going to miss our neighborhood when I go back to Finland.
  • Feeling alive – This city never sleeps. Eventhough sometimes I feel there is too many people in this city, mostly I think it is just a great thing. Because of the people, cars, shops, metros, bars the city is alive and gives me so much energy. Often I think “more is more” and that is where part of my energy comes. St.Petersburgs “beat and vibe” goes really well along with my own inner energy
  • Clubs – What is exchange period without some partying? I have visited some bars&clubs here, two best so far has been club Void (Halloween party) and Coyote Ugly (just extempore “Let`s go to this club – thanks J for recommending it!). I like to dance and that is why I like when the DJs play familiar “easy-to-dance” music. It is also good if you don’t have to pay that big entrance fee.
  • Food – Borsh soup, cabbage soup, blinis and pelmenis – I don’t have to say more than that I like. It is nice to eat “pan cakes” also as a main course and dessert. Gladly, the food is also cheaper here than in Finland. It is also nice to cook and eat together with friends:).
  • Shops – especially Gallery shopping center is really nice. It is full of clothing stores, from where you can find anything you need and more. I wish I had more money…
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Problems in Paradise

Huh, how much has happened since I came back from Finland. I should begin by writing about our new dormitory. The moving happened without me, on Friday, when I was still in Finland. I`m lucky to have really nice friends here, they moved my stuff also. It was exciting for me, to come back on Saturday, because I didn`t know exactly where to go. Then I got the directions, to just take red line metro and then change it to green line and hop off on Gostiny Dvor – station. I`m happy, that Noora was there to meet me, and helped me with my bags.

When I saw my new room, I was really surprised in a good way, though I knew I couldn`t use the bathroom because it was broken (waiting for plumbers). First nights went okay, Noora kindly offered me to use her bathroom and shower. We just started to feel nice about the renovated dormitory, when something unexpected happened. I was just about to sleep when Noora came and said that in her room toilet was flooding. I went to see it, and how horrible it was. The water was already coming to the other room. We were quite anxious about the situation, and tried to solve the problem in the middle of the night. I send messages to another university`s tutor and she told us to go to speak with the guard. And so we did. It was easier said than done, because – no surprise here – the guard didn`t speak almost any English. So, together we tried to explain the situation in Russian. It was really frustrating, but somehow we managed to say and show what was wrong in the room. We understood something what guard said to us, and she seemed to be apologizing and said something we have been laughing at after the situation: This is Russia. – no surprise here either. It seems to be here that you shouldn`t judge a book by its cover. Because here it is like which looks nice and new is not working and which looks old and not that clean is working better.

Next day, we got more information about the situation. After talking with Sasha and the people from dormitory, the best solution was to move to another room. We decided to move to a double room, because the single rooms would have been in the 4th floor, and the double was in the same floor than the rooms we had to move away. So it was easier to just stay in the 6th floor. Niki helped us to move and it didn`t take that much time, but it was still really exhausting, because we couldn`t sleep that much in the night.

So now everything is almost working in our new double room. And we have a lot of space in our room, it is nice to spend time here together. The room is cozy and warm :).  I really like this new place now, it is so nice to have internet connection, which works and the location of the dormitory couldn`t be any better. We are living near Nevsky Prospekt and Kazans Cathedral, which is really nice. And I can even see my favourite church – The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (Храм Спаса на Крови)- from the yard of our dormitory.

Let`s see what happens next! By the way, only a little bit under 2 months left!

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PAUSE: Meanwhile in Finland

Before I left to St. Petersburg, I set goals to myself. One of the goals was to be more spontanious, just to let the life happen. My mum and my sister came to St. Pete in Friday and when they left on Sunday, I went with them.  So, I just decided to have a mini “autumn vacation” in Finland, because we have school on Friday the next time. Earlier I planned to visit Finland on 25th of October, but I felt like now was better timing for me to see my lovely hometown again.

Buying of the ticket wasn`t that easy (like buying any kind of ticket here would be…). At first I realized I don`t have enough cash, and I wasn`t sure if I would be able to pay by credit card. When I went to the bank to withdraw money, I remembered it is Sunday – which means banks are closed. I started to get little bit frustrated. I had cash 3100 rubles (about 68 euros) and I borrowed a little bit more money from my mum, just in case the ticket would cost more. I`m glad I did, later I got to know the ticket costed 3168 rubles.

I went to the train station by metro (red line), which was the easy part, only a couple of stations from Galerija shopping center. At first I didn’t know where to buy the ticket and tried to ask in English from two different lady, if they could help me. Somehow I understood the second ladys advices which she said in Russian. I went out, turned right from the metro station and walked until I saw the familiar building. Hey, this is where I arrived five weeks ago when I came to St.Pete. There was also staff, who helped me to get the ticket. Thank god, they spoke English and finally I got the ticket and seat in the same wagon with my mum and sister.

The train trip went well, and bus trip also, even though the bus was full. But then I just realized how much I actually like the mass of people in the metros and everywhere in St.Petersburg. The Finnish personal space was really threatened, but I didn`t mind, and it seemed many of the other passengers where quite okay with the crowdedness, and even spoke with each other more open than usually.

When I saw our home, I cried. Before I thought our home is too small and I didn’t like it that much, but now it felt really good to have own space and everything is so clean and nice. Have to say, I already little bit missed our sofa and TV! I have really enjoyed these days here in Finland, but I can also say, I kind of also miss St. Pete and my friends there. But soon I will go back and see them again, so now it is the time to enjoy Finland, love, coffee and fresh water which comes from the taps:)


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Getting familiar with Russian bureaucracy

I couldn`t imagine how hard it would be to get a student`s transport card. Of course it is obvious, that you have to sign something and fill in some formal forms, it is the same also in my home country. But here comes the story, how we _almost_ got the transportation card yesterday.

First time when we tried to get the card was some days ago, but then they couldn`t find our information from the computer so we didn`t get the cards. That time we had also someone who could speak Russian with us.

Yesterday we went with Emmi by ourselves to the office, and managed to get some kind of white paper with information in Russian. The lady in the office said something that we should pay 250 rubles to some bank. Okay, then where is the bank, we wondered. Emmi called to our school and they said the bank was near Moskva hotel, so we walked around and tried to find it. After few minutes, we asked help from the hotels reception. They were not able to help, because there was no address in our paper. Finally we found the right bank, which was behind the corner. In the bank we saw many other students who also had the same kind of paper. So we filled in our names, address and yesterdays date and signature and went to the queue. After a while, we were at the right cash desk and after four more signatures, four papers and 250 rubles everything was okay. Until we went out and watched what the time is: 17.47. So, okay the transportation card office was closed few minutes ago. Oh, how we laughed. Almost, almost!

Then we decided to go and get the gym card. How nice it was to travel by metro during the “rush hours”.  I was already tired, but thanks to Emmis great navigating skills, we founded “Planeta Fitnes” quite easily. In the reception we asked if they spoke English and they said a little bit, but the woman who we met told everything in (quite rapid) Russian. I understood some words, but not all. Somehow we managed to sign papers and pay for the card so now I have a membership in Russian gym. Ha-ha. Though, it was a lot easier than getting the transportation card.  After getting the gym card we were hungry and Emmi suggested Subway. Oh no, I panicked.  I hate to decide what to have in my baguette (first world problems, I know). But, I was so hungry so I just pointed what I wanted and said something in Russian.  The result was tasty baguette with turkey (I guess…), sweet pepper, onion, salad and onion sauce.

So, a lot of things happened after school ( five hours Russian language) yesterday:)

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Last Sunday we wen`t to our teachers home, and had a really nice dinner. We met our “Cross Cultural Communication” – teacher at a metro station at 5 pm. It took a little bit time to walk from the metro to teacher`s house. On the way we saw, what is the real living in St.Petersburg like. Houses were quite ragged, modest and old. But our teacher said the location is quite good and the flats are not that expensive there.

It was nice to walk there with teacher and in a bigger group. Alone I would have been little scared, especially in the evening, because we went through a park.  Teacher said that her apartment is quite big, because it has 3 rooms and kitchen and bathroom.  The flat was cozy and we all fitted in. First we saw all of the rooms and then we went to living room to have a dinner. Oh, such a nice dinner it was! At first we ate many different kind of salads, for example chicken salad with potatoes and crab salad. The main course was plov, which is rice with meat. I really liked the main dish a lot. During the dinner we also toasted many times, which was nice. We drank vodka shots, wine and – my favourite – kompot (juice).

After dinner we watched some really nice old photos of our teacher`s family and she also told us interesting facts about her roots. After that we ate delicious cake and drunk a lot of tea of course. Teacher and her family sang us a Finnish song, which was nice. We laughed a lot and had so much fun that Sunday, thanks to many nice people.


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First week in St.Petersburg

We have been here over a week now, but it feels like several months. In this time I have already had time to miss Finland, mostly simple everyday routines and just basic stuff. Because the weekend is here, I wrote a list of things what I miss from Finland already, so here we go.

Tidiness. It smells everywhere, the smell of drains, mould, garbage, exhaust gas, metros, school.. just to mention few things. Also it feels like they don’t clean the toilets ever. In addition to dirty toilets, you have to carry toilet paper with you wherever you are going.

Water. Obviously, when you come from Finland to Russia, it is a shock that you can`t drink water from the faucets. And the bottled water doesn’t taste as good. Also in shower it feels different.

The dates in groceries. One good advice has been to check out the dates of products. We tried to buy some porridge from a bigger shop called Lenta (quite the same as finnish K- Citymarket or Prisma), but all the dates had experied. That is annoying, because you have to spent several minutes to find good groceries even in the bigger shops. Of course in smaller shops it even worse.

The gas stoves. I`m usually not cooking at home (greetings to my lovely boyfriend!), but here it is also difficult, because of the stoves. So, we have cooked together with other students and I have just helped by chopping vegetables etc. Someone has already left the gas open for a while, I am glad we noticed that in time. By the way, we dont have a microwave owen and no one is using the oven either.


A trip to Russian Ikea

I`m sorry these posts come few days late, because of the internet and my own activity and everything what happens here.

On sunday we went to Ikea to buy some household products. Because we don’t have any kettles, pans or stuff like that. I bought also a new pillow, because the one in dormitory is quite hard. We had to take like 2 metros (different lines, orange and green) and then Ikea bus which costed 25 ruples.

There was also a huge shopping mall “Mega” just next by the Ikea. We just wandered around and ate some really good food. And then went to Ikea. After the compulsory shopping in Ikea we ate some ice cream. Cheap ice cream is for sure the best thing in Ikea. It is already cheap in Finland, but here it costs 15 rubles (which is nothing).

Russian Ikea was as awful as any Ikea in the world. Too many people and too much stuff.




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