Finland: Week Three


This week has officially marked the transition from vacation mode to regular life mode. Things are starting to feel like home here in Helsinki. I’m settling into routines, finding favourite places around the city, and all of the things that come with developing a new home.

This doesn’t mean the place has already lost its novelty. The city is still as astoundingly beautiful and interesting as it was when I landed over three weeks ago. I also still have a bunch of things to see that I haven’t yet, but I feel less of the touristy pressures to run around in my spare time and see as much as I can, and more of the desire to just settle in to a regular routine.

Despite this, we still got up to some pretty cool things last week including a trip to Tallinn in Estonia and a walk on the frozen Baltic Sea! I’m going to save a lot of that excitement for a video post in the future.

The weather in Helsinki recently has been very reminiscent of Vancouver. The temperature has risen to the positive range, getting as high as 4 degrees Celsius in the afternoons. The first few days of this warmer streak it also rained pretty heavily, which, with a bunch of snow on the ground, was a recipe for flooding and super icy sidewalks. Treacherous! Now that most of the snow has melted away the roads and sidewalks are bare, save for the few big dirty snow piles on a corner here or there. It was a bit of a running joke the first couple weeks we were here that we were never sure what we were walking on. Were we on the sidewalk? The road? Grass? Pavement? Everything was just compacted and leveled snow everywhere we went. It was like a great reveal when everything melted away.

In school news, we have started a class called European Business Area, a class centered on conducting business between different countries in the European Union. It’s a third-year course, normally prefaced with classes like European business law, European business practice, and a wealth of knowledge of your own home European member state. We have none of this, which was a little concerning.

As a third-year course, it’s a project-based class where the core assignment is to develop a business and a plan to expand that business from your chosen home market within the EU to a host market within another EU state. This includes understanding all the laws, regulations, trade barriers, and any other differences between the two countries. My initial thoughts were that we are in way over our head with it, and that may turn out to be true but I’m up for the challenge. It seems like an opportunity to actually learn a great deal about conducting international business. When I consulted the instructor about our preparedness for it, he made a comment about how similar the EU trade laws are to NAFTA. “If you’ve studied NAFTA at school you’ll do just fine.” he told us. It wasn’t until then that I realized that we hadn’t really studied international business or NAFTA at all until now. Interestingly enough, it seems like expansion into the American market (or vice-versa) is a pretty common step among North American companies. I think a class about doing business between Canada and the US would be interesting and quite useful. There is a strong likelihood that a course like that exists already and it just hasn’t been a compulsory course in my education path at BCIT, but if not maybe it’s worth looking into!

I can’t believe it’s already the end of January. I’m going to blink and it’s going to be Ski Week. Our plan is to head up to Lapland for that week, so we had better get planning! Catch you next week BCIT.

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