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In­ter­cul­tur­al per­spec­tives from Finland

In January 2020 the first e-mails were exchanged, but due to corona, Claudia Jeltsch's exchange was postponed three times. Finally, in March 2022 she came to Chur.

My special interest is in intercultural communication and the cruise industry. In three different tourism classes I explained to the students how the Finns “tick” differently and what they have to consider when dealing with Finish cooperation partners or clients. I myself learnt about the Swiss concept of Heimatort – but I have to admit that it somehow still is a challenge. Fact is that in Swiss passports the Heimatort is mentioned as the birth place. Even though your birth place can be totally different. It seems that a lot of Swiss have to lie constantly when they go abroad: When asked for their birth place, they have to put their Heimatort there, since this is the town that is mentioned in the passport, but not the birth place. It looks like the Heimatort is inherited from the father. On top of that, one can have several Heimatorte, one student explained that he has two, one inherited from his father, and one inherited from his grandfather.

In the cruise business lecture I found the students being especially interested in the environmental impact of cruise tourism and I was really proud to tell them that just about a month before I came the Finish-German company Meyer Turku (a branch of Meyer Papenburg) had received EU-backed funding to develop the very first carbon neutral cruise ship until 2025 (runs under the name “NEcOLEAP project”, see https://anbord.de/tag/necoleap-projekt/ ).

As a lecturer of German as a foreign language, I also wanted to know what kind of German language courses were offered to students. German courses always start in the autumn and last for one year. Due to timetable challenges German is taught only once a week. A one-year course tallies up four ETCS credits. For exchange students with prior knowledge of German, it is possible to do one semester and get 2 credits. For students arriving for the spring semester, it is unfortunately not possible to start with German. Thus it will be of interest for my students that they should start with German already in Finland and this way they can continue with their German studies.

We have two to three Finish exchange students going to Chur each year, so I had the chance to interview two of them and they were both very happy with their exchange, praising amongst other things the extraordinary sport possibilities.

During my free time, I explored the old town of Chur which I found to be very charming and inviting. The city claims to be the oldest city of Switzerland, due to the fact that some artefacts have been found dating back to about 11.000 B.C. The city can also boast having had the first Christian bishop north of the Alps. All of this probably because the city is situated on one of the most important trails between North and South, a trail to pass through the Alps. Being also a tour guide, I found this an especially appropriate location for a university that teaches tourism. During my next stay in Chur, I will definitely have to take a guided tour in Chur to get to know more about this fascinating city and its inhabitants.

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