I havn’t showed up here for a long time but it is time to come back to a usual routine and keep on sharing my impressions with you. The most popular question I get studying here abroad is – why Sweden? So this is what I would like to discuss with you right now.
It is actually not a very easy question to me. My “love affair” with Sweden started when I completed high school in Russia and chose a Bachelor program in University dedicated to International Relations and Regional studies of Scandinavia. The program mostly contained socio-political and cultural courses as well as a complex inquiry of the Scandinavian region. I also chose Swedish as a second foreign language (unfortunately I’m still far from being perfect in it). There is no logical explanation why I decided to focus on this region particularly. Of course, I have always been interested in history, political science and culture. And of course, I considered that Russia has traditionally had close links with the Northern Europe and St. Petersburg, my native city, also situated in the north, is widely considered as a platform for economic integration with EU that could give me good possibilities for the future employment. Perfect Swedish reputation as a country perhaps also played its role. However, honestly, I could have chosen any other region or language equally well. Maybe it is destiny, who knows!
Whatever the case, all my following life was spinning around Sweden. While studying in the University I had a chance to participate in student exchanges with the Danderyds Gymnasium in Stockholm and Österlens folkhögskola in Skåne. Apart from University studies I won a scholarship for attending an “Open Society” summer course in Södra Vätterbygdens folkhögskola in Jönköping where we learned a lot about Swedish experience in forming a tolerant society and welfare state, visited some state authorities and met several Swedish politicians. Last two years of my program at home I have been combining with an internship in Stockholm Region office in St. Petersburg. The Office developed opportunities for cooperation between Stockholm-Mälar region and the Northwest Russia and facilitated the development of long-term contacts between various actors in these regions. In the frames of my internship, for instance, I participated in the final stage of the project “Young law offender” (that shared Swedish experience with local St. Petersburg authorities on how to cooperate more effectively in order to help teenagers that have problems with law) financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency SIDA with the support of the Swedish Institute of Public Administration SIPU. I also took part in organization of the Russian-Swedish Forum, which attracted over 600 participants from Russia, Sweden and the EU and so on. That was a splendid experience that enabled me to grow both personally and professionally! In the same time, I cannot say that it was always easy. It took me some time to get used to the Swedish lifestyle: very steady and “lagom” (average, the golden mean, avoiding extremes). Sometimes Swedish people may seem reserved, distant and so polite that you are not able to understand what they actually mean. Good example is a word “nja” that means yes and no in the same time 🙂 However, after a while you just get into the spirit of the Swedish way of thinking, their striving for teamwork, social consensus and common good. It might not be easy to find real friends among Swedes but their distinct qualities make Sweden a very comfortable place for living and staying, where everyone tends to respect each other and environment around.
When I finished my University studies economic crisis occurred that made it very difficult to find a job, especially in a non-profit sphere. That was one of the reasons why I turned into business field. In the end, I was really lucky to find a job as a Northern Europe Marketing Communications Specialist in American company Veeam Software. Amidst tasks over my shoulders were development and maintenance of external communication units for the customers and partners in Northern Europe, liaising with sales and marketing teams, planning and running of the joint activities with channel marketing and our partners in UK, Benelux and Nordics. I immediately liked that working in marketing requires facing many different roles and abilities and that is why the work is often challenging, varied and exciting. But owing to the fact that knowledge of marketing is immensely changeable and as well requires modern innovative approaches I felt that the next logical step in my career will be to get best possible theoretical background doing my Masters in business. So Sweden finally became my logical and natural choice and I’m incredibly happy that I managed to bring my plans into reality. Now I can say for sure that my relationship with Sweden transformed from a “love affair” into “getting serious” 🙂 But this is a different story.