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Keyshaun Scott and Marian Wong: Finnish Innovation

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December 13, 2019

Keyshaun Scott and Marian Wong: Finnish Innovation

by Keyshaun Scott and Marian Wong

In May of 2019, we—juniors Marian Wong and Keyshaun Scott—had the opportunity to study abroad in Finland on the Finnish Innovation in Politics and Business program. Both of us are International Studies majors. Marian is the following Political Science track and wanted to tap into her interest in European Politics by exploring the political culture in Finland through the program. Meanwhile, Keyshaun is following the Business track and decided to go to Finland to immerse himself in a distinct and distant culture from his own and expound his perspective in International Business. With the guidance of Professors Laatikainen and Gupta, the faculty leaders of this course, the trip was an experience of a lifetime.

The initial culture shock of Finland came from the peaceful and kindhearted people of Finland and the country itself. It was something that we had never experienced before to that extreme. If we were lost or needed immediate help with something, the Finns were more than willing to aid in any way they could, without hesitation. Their kindness to one another sets the tone for a countrywide “social trust” that is woven in their everyday actions. One example could be seen in their public transportation, where passengers ride without a worry of missing their train. In the event that someone is running towards the train with many things, the passengers on the train can press a green button that holds the train doors open and then help the individual board. It’s understood why Finland is named the happiest country in the world.

We learned a tremendous amount about the works of the Finnish political system while attending lectures at the University of Tampere and going to parliamentary presentations. We also visited the Finnish Institute of International Affairs to understand Finland’s relations with the EU. However, this wasn’t the only exposure we had while in Finland. Their parliamentary elections were taking place during our time there, so we were able to see live political campaigns and propaganda! Equally alongside the politics, we also studied the business and economics of Finland, which gave us a thorough insight of what Finland produces and exports into our globalized world. We had the opportunity to meet with COO, Sam Hero, of Happy or Not and spoke with officials from one of the world’s most known companies, Nokia!

After our interactive educational lectures and presentations, we did have extremely fun activities in the cities to partake in. We visited the Lenin-Stalin Museum, went to various Finnish markets, and visited Helsinki’s national art museum and Oodi, the new National Library that has won design awards. Some of our excursions even took us out of the country. We had the opportunity to visit the island fortress of Suomenalinna and even took a day trip to Tallinn, Estonia!

All in all, we took a lot from our experience in Finland and came back with an enriched understanding of the political and economic practices of this innovative country.

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