Great Circle

Just as our plane followed the Great Circle from Los Angeles to Stockholm, our journey in to the business and cultural paradigms of Scandinavia followed. Prior to our trip, our only exposure to these has been through a few pre-trip classes by our professors, a handful of insightful articles, and a few trips to IKEA.

Following our arrival, our introduction seemed academic at best. Not to trivialize the pre-trip grooming on the part of our professors, but going through this experience made us realize that the only way to learn about a different culture is to immerse oneself in it. Their insight helped ease the shock on our virgin eyes to this new landscape.

At the first firms we visited in Stockholm, the office spaces seemed utopic compared to our boring, uptight work environments. The office areas seemed more like a day care center from the future rather than places of business, complete with open, ergonomic work areas with colorful backdrops. The employees overall seemed relaxed and affable. Even outside of the workplace, it became apparent that Scandinavia (at least in June) is a comfortable place. Maybe it’s their more collectivist nature, or Jante-esque tendencies…

Some of these ideas did not agree with me prior to the trip. As a business student in the States how could you not want to work longer and harder than others, make more money than others, and at the end of the day boast about your achievements to anyone willing to listen? (Gross overgeneralization, but you get the point) These backward-isms played out differently once immersed in the people and culture.

Overall our Scandinavian adventure opened my eyes to the Scandinavian way. Physically, my own Great Circle trip has brought me back to where I started. Given the experience I can only consider myself half-Scandinavian (on the inside), but after picking the brains of CEO’s, bankers, entrepreneurs, locals, metro passengers, and bar-flys, alike, I come back to the States feeling that their ideals are somehow more intuitive then our own. I thank you for the journey, Clas and Niklas.