Diary from St. Petersburg sent to PKAMK

I am presenting the diary (in English) sent to my Finnish university (PKAMK) for completion the study excursion. Structure is not made by me – there was one recommended so I used it – but the content of course is mine and maybe it will be interesting before writing normal post about impressions from Piter in Polish. :)

Zamieszczam pamiętnik z Sankt Petersburga wysłany do mojej fińskiej uczelni (Politechniki Północno-Karelijskiej – PKAMK) na zaliczenienie „obozu naukowy” – po angielsku. Trochę dziwna struktura, bo taka była sugerowana i treść niekoniecznie zawierająca te najciekawsze rzeczy, no ale lepsze to niż nic, zanim mi się zechce po polsku normalną relację napisać!

North Karelia University of Applied Sciences

International Business Degree Programme

STUDY EXCURSION TO ST. PETERSBURG

Reflective diary

Dominik F. (0700259, e-mail)

9 June 2007

Joensuu

Before the trip

Preparations

It will not be a lie if write that in fact I started preparations almost five months before departure because I signed up for Basic Russian at PKAMK. Earlier I had been learning Russian in Poland, but only one month and a half before coming in January to Finland. Ability to read in Russia in Cyrillic alphabet gives a lot, especially to Polish person who may guess meanings of some words.

Instead of language lessons I asked one Russian student from Joensuu about good and not very expensive restaurants and he wrote me a few details about a food and localization of two nice ones and of course I have printed his recommendations and have taken them on excursions. Fortunately I did not have to make any more preparations because all necessary information about Piter was delivered to me by very good working organization team consisted of Finnish IB students and the list of Internet cafes was already printed by my German classmate Yvonne Gaitz just after giving us the subject of a research.

Expectations

Because of studying in Joensuu for five months as an exchange student I had an opportunity to meet people from countries all over the world, including Russians. What is more, some of them were not only on exchange, but also studied there as degree students, mainly because of low distance to border with Russian Federation and big city: Petrozawodzk.

Therefore I knew at least something about Russian culture and the second source of information about Russia was Intercultural Management course. From the lessons I knew that Russian culture is located in the cultural triangle more-less in the middle between linear-active Finnish and Germans and multi-active Spanish and Latin America citizens. And what is more it is next to Polish culture (we are only little bit nearer multi-active cultures) which was not surprise because both Russians and Poles belong to Slavic cultures and also our languages have some similarities (but not the alphabet).

Worries

The only worry I had before going to Russia was about safety and keeping things far away from stealers. That is why I did not take to Russia for example my notebook it would have been too risky. I also was not sure if Russian border guard or later: Russian police would not cause any difficulties based on fact I am from Poland nowadays Poland and Russia as countries do not have very good relationships because of plans of location US anti-rocket shield, but of course I did not worry a lot about that.

Feelings about Russia and Russians

Getting on with Russians showed that authors of cultural triangle were right. It was very easy to find the way to understand each other with Russian people. People that I met were more close to others than Finnish people but of course not as close as Spanish and Italians. Russians were also very friendly so I expected the same from young Russian people in Petersburg, especially those who study at the university and I have chance to see that some part of this hypothesis it is true even few days before departure the small group of students from State University of Economics and Finance Petersburg from came here and they were even more friendly than permanent Russian citizens living in Joensuu, maybe because they were very excited of coming to Finland.

After the trip

Meeting of expectations with the reality

As I expected, young Russian people (at least those who study at the economics university) were very friendly. The opposite situation was with the employees who did not care about their duties like workers of the hotel where we stayed who even did not warn guests about the fire in the building last day. My worries about safety were also true because my friend Kamil from Poland unfortunately has been robbed and lost very expensive equipment which he left in hotel room, although only hotel service had a key and there were no signs of break in.

Except these two unpleasant events, rest of an excursion was full of exciting experiences. As I supposed Saint Petersburg is a beautiful city with a lot of places worth visiting and even walks by Nevsky Prospect is attractive because of atmosphere radically different from other European big cities and original architecture.

Coping in new / foreign environment

While being in Russia, it is very important to know at least Russian, because here only very few people can speak English. Fortunately I knew some basics, so I was able to communicate also with people met in the streets. With understanding them it was even better because of some similarities of my mother tongue and Russian language.

Atmosphere in the streets of Russia or at least Saint Petersburg differ from European cities. First of all they are crowded, full of people walking and drinking beers and looking like totally easy-going. Women prefer more feminine clothes like skirts or dresses comparing to e.g. Finland. The city is noisy and there is a lot of dust in the air. Another thing is that drivers never stop when they see pedestrians crossing the street.

Despite all these facts, coping in the new environment was not very difficult for me. Maybe that is because I also come from bigger city (although much smaller big as Piter ) Krakow where I come from has almost 800 thousands citizens) and I like places full of life and historical places, it was easier to get on with Petersburg for me. And the language barrier was not a problem,I knew at least some words and was able to read and guess meanings of words written in the streets. I think I would like to spend there even more time, maybe one or two months.

A surprising situation

The most surprising situation took place after a visit in cartoon company. I decided altogether with three third year IB students to come back not by bus but having 1 km walk to the metro. When we finally reached the neighborhood of metro station, we saw a huge crowd everywhere. Whole station was full of people and even outside there was a circle of people, 10-meter big from the entrance who were trying to get in the station or at least be nearer the entrance.

Sankt Petersburg - kolejka do metra

What was the most surprising, nobody else was surprised of this huge crowd except us. It meant that is not very untypical event, but for us it was so amazing that we decided to sit in beer garden next to it, take something to drink and just take several photos. And finally, an hour later we decided to take the bus as our mean of transport to come back slowly through a traffic jam to our places and paying for ticket to a bus conductor.

Nonverbal communication

Volume of speech: medium

Use of space: 30-50 cm intimate zone, small distance between young people

Touching: popular shaking hands, hugging between closer friends, kissing in public places between girlfriend and boyfriend usually

Eye contact: important and often used

Gestures: using them and also facial expression is common

Dining

Greek Tavern Oliva

  • address: Bolshaya Morskaya 31

  • description: It offers national food in traditional Greek interiors (five rooms to choose from). The service is fast and professional. There is also live music in the evening.

  • meal: business lunch (mushroom soup, unlimited food amount of second course, dessert, water) âÂ?Â? 250 rubbles.

The Idiot

  • address: Moika Embankment 82

  • description: Named after Dostoevsky’s novel. It offers Russian and vegetarian food with names taken from novels like Raskolnikov salad. It consists of four rooms full of antiques.

  • meal: lunch (unlimited vegetarian food)  190 rubbles.

71 Responses to “Diary from St. Petersburg sent to PKAMK”

  1. Marina pisze:

    Hey, it’s first time I found your journal here :) And it was like a nostalgie – to read about the events of May-June. Now I printed the page and will read it on the way home =)

  2. Dominik pisze:

    Hey Marina :)
    It’s very nice you came to my blog :) Unfortunately most of texts are in Polish, but maybe you may guess some words ;p
    And this is my homework, that’s why there are such paragraphs and it’s more official than it could be ;)
    I also often go back in mind to May, because your city is really good :)
    And of course it has very nice and pretty citizens ;)

  3. Marina pisze:

    I read finally the blog) It was interesting to see the part of nonverbal commmunication – so scientific view on russians =)
    heh, just noticed that november is listopad in Polish)))) we already have snow in the streets

  4. Dominik pisze:

    heh, yes – my very scientific view on Russian nonverbal communication ;)
    I see you’ll proficient in Polish soon ;p
    Listopad because it’s a month of falling trees and liść=leaf, spadać=to fall :) Russians months sound similar to English, but we have other names! :)
    and you know? we have some snow too since today! :) Not very much and it will probably disappear soon but now I can see some white stains behind the window :)
    But I know you have more so don’t forget Marina about wearing warm hat, scarf and gloves ;P

  5. Marina pisze:

    yeah, maybe one day I’ll be „proficient” in Polish))
    And btw you cannot really know that we have more snow here – today we almost don’t have it since there were two rather warm days.

    and why don’t you write new blogs here?

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    When I came to Joensuu in Finland, there was a new exotic place for me so I thought it could have been interesting to share experiences in the blog, but now I’m back in Kraków so I stopped :)

    Well, now I’m not very surprised your snow disappeared because all the snow is now owned by us in Kraków ;p – as you can see in my new post :)

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