Marina Hess, DMSB'20, MSA'21, is taking over the @damoremckim Instagram account this week, detailing her recent experiences on the dialogue Driving Growth in Russia: From Building on Bones to Building on Blockchains. Follow along beginning today for an inside look at her time abroad!
Q: What is your major and what year are you graduating?
I am a Business Administration major with a concentration in accounting and am currently going into my third year. I am also taking part in a Plus One program and am on track to get my MS in Accounting. I will be graduating in 2021.
Q: What is the name of the dialogue you went on and how long was it?
The dialogue I went on is called Driving Growth in Russia: From Building on Bones to Building on Blockchains. It is a travel intensive program across Russia for one month. We take two classes while abroad, Competing to Win in Emerging Markets (INTB 2501) and Cultural Engagement Abroad (CLTR 4944).
Q: What is the itinerary or major stops of the trip?
This trip starts in Saint Petersburg, in the western part of Russia and has stops in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk (Siberia), Tomsk (Siberia), Nizhniy Novgorod, and ends in Moscow. The transportation between cities includes traveling on a plane, short distance train, and long-distance train on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. I recommend this trip to anyone who truly loves to be constantly on the move.
Q: Tell us more about your trip.
I chose this program mostly because of the location and itinerary. Russia is an amazing country that most people may never have the chance to visit, so it felt like a no-brainer to me. In the first two weeks we visited four cities and it was nonstop activity and excitement. We started in St. Pete, where it was 70 degrees and sunny every day. The city is so colorful and reminded me of many European cities, which was not what I was expecting from Russia. Our next stop was Yekaterinburg, a city located on the line between Europe and Asia with an average temperature of 55 degrees. This city immediately looked different due to its very modern skyline. We then took a 20-hour overnight train ride on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Novosibirsk. This was the first city in the Siberia region of Russia we would be visiting. It snowed the first day we got there and was never warmer than 50 degrees. We then took a short train ride to the Siberian city of Tomsk, which was the smallest city we would visit. The temperature was similar to Novosibirsk and although I was often reminiscing about Saint Petersburg, I was grateful I got to experience living in this part of the country. We then took a plane to Moscow where we spent about a week and a half.
Q: What was one of the highlights of the trip?
For me a highlight of this trip was being able to fully immerse myself in Russian culture. This has been my first time visiting a country with a very different culture than the U.S. At first this made me nervous, but being with our professors who grew up here made it easy to overcome the culture shock and instead, embrace it. We were able to experience things such as ballet performances in well-known theatres, banya (or Russian sauna), and traditional Russian cuisine. We even went to one of the best restaurants in the world, The White Rabbit. This restaurant is famous not only for its 360-degree views of the city but also its chef Vladimir Mukhin. He appeared on the Netflix original series Chef’s Table and is famous for revamping Russian cuisine after much of it was lost during Soviet times.
Q: How has the trip enhanced your business skills?
Before this trip I had only taken one international business class. Although I learned a lot, it is impossible to experience doing business in another country from only one class. This experience, however, is as international as you can get. Throughout the dialogue we have visited different types of businesses across Russia and learned about both their challenges and their successes. For example, in Yekaterinburg we visited JetStyle. This company was a graphic design/virtual reality company. They showed us posters that they create for companies that are truly able to come to life when you look at them through their app. At the end they had some of us use a virtual reality headset and experience a real estate program that they had created. They explained how they have been able to grow in the Russian market and their plans for the future.
Q: How has photography influenced your interests personally and professionally?
I have enjoyed taking pictures of my experiences for years now, especially on a trip like this because it makes it easy to remember all the things we have done. It is also a convenient way to show my friends and family when I return back home as well. It is also helpful to point out that this dialogue is very media-centered considering we have a final video project and a daily blog post with pictures. Therefore, throughout the trip I have took videos and pictures not only for my own personal use but for my projects as well.
Q: Where have you held a co-op position?
Due to my major, I am in the spring co-op cycle with a 4-month long co-op, which makes me eligible to do this Summer 1 program. My first co-op was at PwC in Assurance and I just recently accepted an offer to return next spring.
Q: What do you plan to share during your takeover?
I plan to show pictures from most of the cities I visited during my journey across Russia. Each city has very unique features and historical background. For example, Saint Petersburg is the window to Europe and was established by Peter the Great. Therefore, the city very closely resembles Amsterdam and other European cities. If it weren’t for the onion domed architecture of The Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood I wouldn’t even know I was in Russia. As we moved east towards Asia, the cities we visited began to look very different. In contrast, the Siberian city of Tomsk is full of traditional wooden houses and detailed architecture. Much of these historic wooden buildings have been destroyed due to fire, but the ones that still stood took my breath away.