【Partner School】IBMBA students’ Experience of The International Helsinki Days 2020

Shared By IBMBA 108 鄒雯鈞(Jean)、林琨晧(Bruce)、程心蕾(Kelly)

What were some of the highlights of the whole week?

Every day was very intense, so we could learn a lot from the speeches and activities! I really liked each of the activity they held, but if I have to choose then:
Sitsit or “Sittning” is an academic tradition in Finland and Sweden. Normally the meal is prepared and served by students who often spend some time working at their union or nation. The number of dishes varies, but three courses are common, and alcohol is usually included.
A vital part of a student sittning is singing. The guests are usually given a booklet with songs that will be sung during the sittning. Everyone sings when a song is brought up, and songs are often related to the current progress of the sittning. Sittnings often begin with a certain song and end with another, songs are sung when drinking snaps, and there is often a song to honor the students serving and cooking.

Thus, the IHD team held total four sits for us, one for welcome dinner, another one in the cottage, then farewell dinner and Valentine’s sitsit. These activities are the most unforgettable part for us, because there is no other chance to experience it even if travelling in Finland alone. Through the event held by Hanken School of Economics, we could have this precious experience.

2.The cottage experience:
Staying in the cottage for two days in natural forest is also an important way to let us know Finnish culture more. In the holiday seasons, Finns flock to the countryside for quietness and relaxation at cozy hideouts. Often situated by water or falls, cabins and cottages are essential elements in Finnish life that provide a physical and mental getaway from the daily grind. Forgetting the everyday worries is inevitable in retreats amid the country’s greatest resource: its rugged natural beauty.

During the time in the cottage, we not only played a lot of games to increase every member’s cohesion also we got a chance to do “Sauna”, which was a crazy activity ever! We went inside the heating room to get warm and went out to the snow. Due to the climate change, it didn’t have any snow at that time so we decided to jump into the lake which was frozen.

3.The company visit:
We visited three companies during this week. First, Miltton, one of biggest marketing consultants company in Finland and they are still growing. Another one is “Fazer”, the biggest chocolate brand in Finland, we had a short guide in its headquarter and its factory. And, Nordea, the Nordic investment bank which is an international financial institution founded in the mid-1970s by the five Nordic countries. It was a precious experience that we could visit Nordic companies, and that is also a good chance to compare with Asian companies, which we can point out the difference between.

What were the highlights of Finland?

Altogether we spent 10 days in Finland. We spent one week in Helsinki attending the event, taking a look at all the famous tourist place, for instance, rock church and central library are really worth to visit. Also, the salmon soup which is the must eat list for every tourist.
Then the other three days we took the Polar Express train to the north city “Rovaniemi” where we visited the Santa Claus village, and had a reindeer ride. It was just like the dream come true.

What interesting things did you learn about Finnish culture?

1.Not much talking and Finns need some personal space:
Finns naturally keep their distance to other people, especially when it comes to those they don’t personally know. From a Finnish perspective, we would say it makes us feel they are being polite and not disturbing others. For example, when in a bus, Finns only sit next to another person when all possible window seats are taken, and they will start filling up the aisle seats.

2.Eating habit “Help yourself”:
IHD team organized one local host for every guest. For example, I, Kelly, stay with one of the Finnish student who is from Hanken School of Economics. At the first day I arrived, he invited me to go to supermarket and bought some grocery together. After going back to his apartment, when the dinner time was, he started to cook spaghetti which I thought he was making the dinner for us, so I even started to film and record when he was cooking. However, he ate them all by himself. It was such a culture shock and I realized that if I didn’t tell him I wanted to eat the meal together, then he would just prepare for his own need.

The story above was kind of a different experience between two western cultures which I compare with my experience of staying with my American homestay.

Would you suggest this opportunity for other IBMBA students? Why/why not?

Yes we would suggest it! It is an absolutely unique experience with 34 delegates from 18 countries all over the world. This never or seldom happens that you can meet people from so many countries in one place. Everyone wants to explore different culture and build a network, thus, it’s definitely a good chance to expand your horizon. Plus, you just need to pay for flight ticket and other personal expense and accommodation and meal fee are covered. The last but not least, if you go to Finland by yourself or join the tour group, you probably would not have chance to visit Nordic companies or experience the traditional Finnish university student culture.

What did you learn?

From the corporate visiting experience, we learn how the Nordic model and value work successfully in Nordic countries and what other people think of the advantage of Nordic value can success in their country. Both let us have more ability in critical thinking and come up with ideas out of the box.

In conclusion, during the special event we mentioned above, we learned a lot of Finnish cultures that local people have in Finland, for instance, the eating habit, the cottage and sauna experience and the traditional “Sitsit”. Besides, when all the guests around the world together, we learned each other’s language, political situation in their countries, how their business models work, or even their special traditions, etc. One week was just too short to get so many interesting things we would say as a conclusion!

How can you apply what you learned to your time in the IBMBA program?

During this event, we learn some Nordic values from the companies, mutual respect, personal space, and trust, which we think are worthy to bring back. It doesn‘t mean that Taiwanese students or corporates are not equipped with those characteristics, but it is just like corporate social responsibility which everyone knows but sometimes we forget to do it. The main point is how we implement these ideas in the real life, especially in our IBMBA program where we have lots of international students. We sometimes want to take good care of them with the excuses of being passionate, so we control everything and do everything for them. Thus, we invade their personal space and break the mutual respect as they see us as a complete human, same in the local companies. So we hope we can keep this experience in mind and use it whenever we are in school or in company.

◎IBMBA學生(左起) Jean, Bruce, Kelly

Is there anything you would like to change about the event?

For most of the part, the IHD week was so amazing and perfect, we really appreciated what they organized for us, but if some part can be adjust, it will be better.

Firstly, before we arrived Finland, they already planned every guests to have their own Finnish host. When we see the host information, we were shocked due to Kelly’s and Jean’s hosts were guys, which means that two girls would stay with their Finns hosts who just met for the first time for whole week, and we were all afraid of the safety problem. But luckily, our hosts were all gentle and friendly.

Secondly, we hope that they can increase more corporate visits and guest speakers. Otherwise the event will be like focusing on cultural exchange as the main part.