Within my PALFINGER internship I luckily had the chance to visit the office in St. Petersburg too. It was a pleasure for me to work within the Corporate HR – Team because I had possibility to see a company of this size working together with its employees. Interesting tasks such as helping out with the implementation of a new global HR-System or communicate with HR colleagues all around the globe broadened my horizon. The PALFINGER slogan “We value people – people create value” is not only a saying – it is lived.
Once in Russia you realize that you are definitely in a different country: when people are on the phone with you and just hang up without saying goodbye, when the bus closes the doors while driving without warning, when you have difficulties finding the entrance of a building, when you do not know what to expect at the next corner, maybe a palace or a broken car or when you are stuck in the doors of the metro.
But all these situations are part of an authentic experience in Russia. This is exactly what makes this country so unique and full of surprises. My view has broadened in many ways. The charm of Russia is remarkable and, in some way, even perfect to me. Daily life in Russia is much more relaxing as there are not so many things to worry about. There is always a way to solve a problem, even if it is a compromise.
If you are looking for the Russian stereotypes you have to seek for. Once you’ve been to Russia, especially in the big cities you realize that the country and the people differ completely from what you might think. I had the pleasure to meet very kind and attentive Russian people, particularly my colleagues. There was always someone nearby, who was willing to give me a hand when lost, therefore I never felt helpless. The Russians are always offering help without expecting a favor in return. This in retrospect might be a huge difference to Central Europe. Due to the politeness of the Russians you won’t hear them responding with phrases like “I don´t know” or “ask someone else”. They will always give you a polite answer or give you directions even if they don´t have a clue.
I had the possibility to visit all the touristic hotspots and even more like the Ballet in Marrinski Theatre, a Musical and so many museums. Conclusion: the museums are impressively huge and never ending. Even though Ballet feels never ending for some people too it was surprisingly fascinating and the ticket-prices are quite reasonable compared to Europe.
About Fear and Smiles…
I am glad that I had the opportunity to take a language course in Moscow in the summer during my studies. My fear of the foreign country and culture was therefore gone. I felt very safe during the time in Russia. Of course, you must follow rules – like in every country but if you follow these rules: what is the worst thing that can happen? Maybe a Russian smiling to you? Oh no – that never happens, not at first sight…
In Russia I was told that emotions are special, and a fake smile is a facade and so a smile of a Russian can be taken more seriously and in my opinion this is great. After some days you get used to this and you can feel your muscles in your face automatically relax.
But this was not my only insight, here are some more:
- Stay calm during a wild taxi ride. They hopefully know what they are doing.
- Don´t feel disappointed when Russian men do not shake your hand or surprised if they kiss your hand; you can almost always expect a man opening the door for you. Many Russian men seem to be gentlemen. In Austria if you expect a man to open the door for you, in most cases you will literally run against the door.
- Never trust a Russian salad – it could be seaweed or rice. Why would they put rice in a salad?
- Follow the correct rules when drinking vodka with e.g. traditional speeches and toasts
- Don´t be surprised when you meet horses in the middle of the street in the night – this seems to be quite normal there
- Expect unusual ringtones at the office such as Tango sounds or melodic cover versions of Despacito or Upps I did it again. Am I in Russia? Really?
Uncountable but very affordable Uber rides and thousand kilometers on the metro escalators later, I want to say Thank You – especially to all my Russian and Austrian colleagues who have been so supportive, friendly and forthcoming. I had a great time!