Spring 2019 the international coordinator of Savonia Business School got an e-mail starting: “ Hei Virpi, I hope you remember me…” And yes, Virpi did remember. The message was from Mr Jani Tavi, a former student from 2012. Back then Savonia Business Varkaus still had International Business in Finnish (go figure…) and Jani joined the second to last group to take that degree. During his studies Jani was also among the first group of students to be sent over to Shanghai Polytechnic University for exchange. And life changed for him after that.
Jani had met a lovely young lady during his school years in Varkaus, an exchange student from Shanghai herself. Well, that young lady was very likely the reason he was drawn to Shanghai as well. Things led to other things, and after graduation that lady became Mrs Tavi, and the newly weds moved to Oulu for Mrs. Tavi to get her Master’s. Another graduation later the couple moved over to Espoo as both of them got jobs at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
And what has the e-mail mentioned got to do with anything? Well, it turned out that Mr Tavi was applying to Shanghai to get his Master’s in turn, and needed a recommendation from his previous tutors. Such a recommendation was gladly given, and some time later the news came; Mr Tavi got into Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing. CUFE is a top 100 university in China, and Mr Tavi is planning to improve his Chinese language during the studies as well.
So, family Tavi is heading to China with their home all packed up. What might be considered as exceptional is that Mr Tavi will be living in Beijing while his wife will move to Shanghai. The reason behind this is the networking and personal contact based business culture in China. The better networks you have, the better your professional life could become. And Mrs Tavi’s contacts are all in Shanghai, and in fact she has already gotten offers for interviews by international giants like Booking.com and eBay.
Mr. Tavi will join his wife in Shanghai as soon as his studies are done and dreams of a career within diplomacy. And skills in diplomacy Mr Tavi has already. Mixed culture couple’s life is not always easy, with different expectations on the roles of the spouses, different languages and culinary cultures colliding. What is really noteworthy is how Jani describes the food and drinking culture of the Chinese; they seem to drink even more than the Finnish! Invitation to join someone for dinner usually means some serious drinking - and hard liquer at that- for everyone is trying to out-drink the strangers. And if you do not speak the language, even international hand signs are no help; the number 6 is not shown with 6 fingers up, but with your pinky and thumb up only. On the other hand, having known each other quite some time the Tavis have solved these issues long ago in their personal life.
We will keep our ears and eyes open for future developments in the Finnish-Chinese integration front. Hope we will get either the couple or at least one of them to visit us as expert lecturers in the near future!