Faculty of Economics

V.N. Karazin Kharkov National University
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German Holiday

German Holiday

Once upon a time, at a scientific conference which is held twice a year by our Department, we met two representatives of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Matthias Tsillikh and Martin Reuter. They told us about numerous exchange programs for students, scholars and teachers, which are supported by this state service, as well as about conditions and opportunities for participation in the contest for the DAAD scholarship with the purpose to carry out a target visit to Germany. As our third-year students have annual general economic practical training under my guidance, this information was very helpful for me. There appeared an opportunity to expand the framework of our practical training. The chance to make my schooltime dream come true was especially attractive for me – which was to visit the ancient student city of Heidelberg and its famous university, to see the largest enterprises in Europe and even in the world and finally to realize (or better to feel) in what the competitive advantage of one of the most developed countries of the world lies.

Work on designing the trip started with our correspondence with the representatives of German universities, who responded to our invitation to become partners and discuss the program of business meetings. At the same time, our students conducted interesting informative meetings with the DAAD lecturer Martin Reuter, and selection of candidates for participation in the project was underway. We also met senior students who had already completed such practical training. I invited our German friend to the presentation of Kharkiv enterprises, which showed, in particular, the ultimate goal of our future travel.

I felt so absorbed in the project that I decided to re-start my studies of the German language after a lengthy break in the Nuremberg House. In the course of preparation of the project for the contest, we became friends and associates not only with the DAAD lecturer Martin Reuther, but also with our partners from the universities of Heidelberg (Christine Müller), Mannheim (Yvonne Paulus) and the Society of Friendship between Kharkiv and Nuremberg (Anti Rempe).

A series of events in the framework of Days Friendship between Ukraine and Germany (in October and November, 2008) aroused great interest in us. We visited the art exhibitions and films by German authors, and also met representatives of twenty-two German universities who presented their programs of studies and research for our students and young scientists.

Within the context of the course 'Economics of Foreign Countries', we studied in the most detail, of course, the economy of Germany. Having devoted to this topic two of our seminars, we examined the natural, human, investment and entrepreneurial potential of the country, social welfare system, cultural, educational, employment and innovative traditions of the German society. The particular interest was aroused by the fact and history of economic success of Germany in the postwar period, especially the concept of 'public welfare' by L. Erhard, and the modern socially oriented market model of capitalism. And yet we still had a lot of questions, answers to which waited for us in the country itself. So we gradually imbued with the idea that the journey was vitally important. With the help of Martin Reuter, we conducted the selection of students, organized a preliminary presentation of the German companies that our project was aimed at. And finally, the project was drafted and sent for the contest. We only had  to await patiently the decision of DAAD.

In April, 2009, I received a message from Birgit Siebe-Herbig informing that our application for funding of the travel to Germany for a group of students had been approved by the Selection Committee. Later, the dates and technical issues of travelling to Germany and back were specified, visas were granted, and plane and train tickets were booked. Then, our readiness number one, start, working on the project, and cultural program in Germany, and our finish in Ukraine, which should be equally interesting and informative as the journey itself. You can judge for yourself.

Day One. 14.06.09. Sunday. Boryspil International Airport. Flight 2 hours 15 minutes. Dortmund Airport. The bus stop, railway station and five trains for Frankfurt with intervals mostly of 5-15 minutes. Communication with hospitable and talkative people in local electric trains. Around 7 p.m. - Frankfurt, the guide hurtling towards us, another trip in the subway, transfer to the hotel on foot, checking-in and dinner. The first cozy cafe, the first evening walk in Germany. Reflection of illumination in the warm waters of the River Main... Just think, in the morning it was Kiev yet.

Day Two. 15.06.09. Monday. Frankfort on the Main. A rainy but warm summer evening greeted us in this city, where old houses and modern skyscrapers of companies and banks make such a surprising combination. Behind the ancient facade of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, a spacious and even cozy hall is hiding which is equipped in the latest technology (and perhaps in the latest office design, too), where five brokerage firms are located.

The morning bell at 9 a.m. sets in motion the machinery and personnel, and transactions start and gather their tempo steadily. But everything seems calm. Especially the exchange employee who introduces us to her work. Who are these people who can easily dispose of the largest financial companies in Germany, Europe and the world? How are the deals made?

And can one work here? Vovchenko Valeriya, Aliyeva Elvira and Ryabchenko Nataliya are trying to find the answers to these and many other questions, and the other students are trying to help them by asking their own questions.

The rain adheres to its position, but will it stop anyone? Central Square, historical, architectural and cultural monuments, the ruins of the Roman era, the business center, the whole city in full view from the height of 54 floors - you have probably guessed - it is the official tour around the city.

But there were also our individual walks across bridges and along the Main, in the evening lights of the Gothic buildings, the narrow cobbled streets, among dwelling houses richly decorated with blossoming flowers, and restaurants and cafes luring with delicious flavors of fine cuisine.

Day Three. 16.06.09. Tuesday. The drizzling rain, which is already familiar to us, accompanies us from the hotel to the Frankfurt Airport.

But take your time, as we have just arrived. In fact, we have a meeting with the largest company ahead which carries out international passenger and cargo flights. It is Fraport. A comfortable coach (and it is not the only one) full of excursionists, is furrowing the expanses of this aerocity where, besides the colossal airport building with all of its thinkable and unthinkable facilities (hotels, shops, cafes, refreshment rooms, lockers, information and many other services), there are office buildings, a conference hall for presentations, parking areas, aircraft hangars and warehouses, and, of course, the aeroplanes from all over the world. Every minute, lots of air liners, people and cargos arrive and depart. That’s incredible, but they also treat us to a delicious lunch here!

Astounded by what we have seen and burdened by what we have eaten, we get quietly into our bus, hoping to have a rest during an almost three-hour journey to the next object – the BASF Chemical Plant, located on the banks of the Rhine in the town of Ludwigshafen. However, when we finally woke up virtually at the gates of the plant, we did not suspect that our shock would resume with renewed vigor. After all, everything at this plant was telling us about the strength and power of human intelligence, diligence and innovations. But everything in its turn. We had some ideas about this company, but the reality could not match even with the most daring of our assumptions. Moreover, the notion of an industrial giant in many countries had already lost its meaning. But not here. For over 140 years, the plant had been growing and growing, and it turned from a small enterprise producing aniline and soda into the world's largest corporation producing the most relevant chemical and petrochemical products on the basis of its own scientific research. High-quality dye-stuff and paints, plastics, PVC products, foam plastic, composite, superabsorbent, flavorings, vitamins, antifreeze and even alternative fuel for automobiles - all this is BASF. Plus, skilled staff, the creative work collective enthusiastic about their work, democratic management, and finally, an excellent guide.

And again the coach, and again the city with peculiar names of the streets and squares - Carbon Dioxide Street, Ammonia Street, Assembly Square... Manufacturing facilities are connected by pipes winding in the strict order, the area is spacious, and there is almost no rubbish. A gray hare is strolling leisurely closer to the bank of the Rhine.

As a matter of fact, the hare should be made the symbol of Germany on equal rights with the bear. We observed a real hare family, and fairly large, on the lawn in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. A kind of biological species - hare urban gray which prefers to settle down in industrial and business centers of Germany.

No sooner had we felt a little sad about the completion of the tour around BASF, as the friendly Heidelberg shrouded by the wooded slopes was waiting for us. The beautiful hotel «Alt Heidelberg» in the old building with modern comfortable guest rooms equipped with TFT television, minibars, multiple lighting appliances, continental breakfast and evening tea (served at any time, even at night). We quickly left our belongings in the rooms and, having forgotten about our fatigue and impressions, we dispersed along the narrow streets of Heidelberg in search of the university buildings, ancient buildings, modern fountains, restaurants and cafes scattered around the city - all of what we had dreamt for so long in one of our previous lives. And all of that greeted us with gleefulness, friendliness and smile - in other words, it returned our feelings.

Day Four. 17.06.09. Wednesday. Heidelberg. The meeting with the manager of the Faculty of Economics of Heidelberg University, the presentation of educational programs for Bachelors and Masters.

The meeting with Christine Müller, our partner in preparing the travel. The University presentation and a tour around the University and historical places of the city with a guide very enthusiastic about history. Of particular interest was the students' punishment cell, as everyone who had been confined there won prestige with the others.

Communication with the students. With the love of freedom and free-thinking characteristic of them, and also taking the advantage of their democratic rights, Heidelberg students went out into the streets of the city to express their dissatisfaction with the changes in the system of German free education. Despite the pessimism of the others, I think that such actions at least attract attention to the problems, and maybe push for more optimal solutions. That is democracy. Of course, it is important not to break the law and order.

Day Five. 18.06.09. Thursday. Heidelberg. Start for Manheim. The meeting at the Manheim University: presentation of educational programs for Bachelor and Master degrees.

Lecture on participatory governance. Which is very to the point, as we are going to visit a famous company where workers' democracy took root long ago, since about the 1970s - Daimler-Benz. Moving to Stuttgart. Excursion to the Daimler-Benz and Mercedes-Benz Museum.

A huge shop, clean and tidy; businesslike workers in uniform do not ignore the girls of our group, though without being distracted from performing their professional duties. Discipline and diligence in the assembly workshop. And what is there in the museum? In the museum, my friends, there is everything: from the first cart to the most modern models of automobiles and service transport. A huge spiral parking lot, as a running image of the time machine display, which opens a whole century of events, people, technologies, models, achievements and looks into the future.

Day Six. 19.06.09. Friday. Heidelberg. Departure to Manheim. A walking tour around the city with a guide, then free time for lunch, and visit to the Manheim Opera House in the evening.

The performance is very peculiar: both the orchestra and the performers are on the stage. There is no traditional in our understanding theatrical performance, but heartfelt acting of the artists, perhaps, makes it unnecessary. Great fun. I think we begin to feel something important.

Day Seven. 20.06.09. Saturday. Heidelberg. Another tour around Heidelberg with a visit to the castle (in a modern elevator) and urban, or rather suburban, forest park where we were taken by an old elevator. From the aircraft height, we admired parachute jumpers, the city, river and countryside perspective.

In the evening, we had a charming party in an old beer café with a piano and songs, in which the voices of young and mature visitors blended, and the joy was felt by everyone without boundaries of nationality or age. Those who were absent regretted it afterwards, which is rare nowadays.

Day Eight. 21.06.09. Sunday. Moving to Saarbrücken. A city tour with a guide from the society 'World without Boundaries'.

The famous theater, an instructive story about the sculpture of a niggardly philistine’s head, the fortress and temples... The picturesque river with consolidated banks, a boat at the mooring (tomorrow it will reveal its secret to us).

After lunch, the visit to the ancient cultural center of France – the city of Metz. The feast of life - a rock festival - and also without national or age restrictions. The real (not fastfood) paella in a restaurant. A long walk around the city to the powerful live music of numerous rock bands. Cacophony, you may think. No, my friends, you have not guessed. It is rather the harmony of instrumental and mental rhythms. And it can be expressed in the words: AFFIRMATION OF LIFE.

Day Nine. 22.06.09. Monday. Saarbrücken. The morning begins with a pleasant surprise: right at the hotel, we are welcomed by Margret Reuter. This charming and affable lady, with a sporty appearance, is the mother of our friend Martin. Our meeting is charged with optimism and courage, it is the impulse to new horizons of our journey. And there was something to aspire. The presentation at the Saarland University of numerous educational opportunities, including MBA, by the Director of the Institute of Economics, Professor Dr. Joachim Zentes. Magnificent lunch, after which (we were lucky again!) there was an exhibition of educational and research institutions, various companies inviting students to co-operation and orienting schoolchildren professionally with their information. Great! The distinctive feature of the exhibition where offers from 56 enterprises and organizations were presented, lies in its innovation, i.e., all companies develop the most relevant aspects of the modern manufacturing and research. There we found one more unexpected but really helpful surprise. Our guide, Andre Fritsche, decided to make a little quiz for girls. All the participants of our team, divided into minigroups, studied the offers of 8-10 companies, and in the evening, they presented the objects studied to a strict committee in English. It seemed that the committee was satisfied with the work of the group.

Day Ten. 23.06.09. Tuesday. Saarbrücken. We are invited to a meeting with Saarland Parliament Deputies. A small presentation of the parliament functioning, then a light breakfast, and finally the meeting with the deputies of the parliamentary majority - the party of Christian Democrats and Social-Democratic Party. A lot of our questions were restricted only by the time allotted for the meeting. Perhaps these questions had already been formed in Ukraine, but it happened that we asked them in Germany. And that was great.

On the same day we moved to Nuremberg. As the trip was rather lengthy, we made a stop for lunch in the old town of Schpaier with its thousand-year-old temple, extraordinary relics (the cross and crown), amazing group of sculptures, ancient houses traditionally decorated with flowers and plants, and with numerous restaurants and shops.

Nuremberg. The employees of the Friendship Society between Kharkiv and Nuremberg, headed by Professor Dr. Diether Götz, invited us to an old Bavarian restaurant with authentic German cuisine, where we felt very comfortable, joyful and relaxed. The professor made a small presentation of the Society and promised to hold a tour around the city and a meeting at the university the next day.

Day Eleven. 24.06.09. Wednesday. Nuremberg. A morning excursion around Nuremberg. The fortress, castle, city view from above, architectural and historical monuments, among which the house and A. Durer, remarkable sculptural forms, explanations of ancient courtyards and balconies, mysteries of old temples... A little rest for lunch. Then, the meeting at the University of Nuremberg - a wonderful meeting. After all, unlike other universities, here, besides the main presentation, there was a briefing with Russian-speaking immigrant students and one of our compatriot. Thus we learned about the student's mutual aid: senior students instruct younger ones, helping them adapt to the peculiarities of studying at the university. We also found out that tuition fee increases technical support of the educational process at the university. The library stock, computers and other equipment, the database of all international and domestic organizations and the leading scientific publications, new computer programs - all this is available to all comers virtually 24 hours a day. In the evening, a farewell dinner at the restaurant. A ring in the famous Nuremberg column directly opposite the hotel symbolizes the realization of a cherished dream, the other one means the desire to return coming true. Getting up at 4 a.m. leaves no chance to fall asleep. But it’s OK. We’ve got a long way to Dortmund ahead of us.

Day Twelve. 25.06.09. Thursday. The road from Nuremberg to Dortmund. At 4.30 a.m. the first touching sunbeams came from the horizon. It was our last sunrise in Germany, and even it was  timid at first and life-affirming in the end - especially for us. There is no limit to the generosity of this country! Andre, who had noticed my admiration, said heartbreaking words: “This is for a very short time.” Of course, not for long. Our nearly seven-hour route to Dortmund lasted only a moment. Then a heartfelt speech of our driver (he has a big Russian-speaking future!). A huge bouquet of roses. The last manifestations of respect, care and attention, gratitude, friendship and love. The airplane. Clouds through which we could see the open spaces of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland ... And finally there was Ukraine. Just think, the day began in Nuremberg!

How quickly everything goes by! The unexpected heat in Kiev, reminding us that there is work waiting for us at home. And our relatives and friends waiting for our impressions and ready to share with us all our warm feelings towards the people who are always open, courteous, caring, wise, friendly and hospitable, generous and magnanimous. It's hard to imagine when you read the best textbooks or analyze the most authoritative statistics. This should only be felt. And we succeeded in that. Thank you, friends and colleagues! And see you later!
And meanwhile... Far away, in another region of Europe, namely in Kharkov, another our shock-brigade is exploring the domestic enterprises. In this group, the generous male soul and, consequently, the powerful intelligence play a significant role. In order to inspire the young for hard work in absolutely unfavorable for research natural conditions (hhheeeaaat!), we start our tour with a gracious oasis of our city, and well, of the significant part of our country, Jungle Water Park. To get there, we had to disturb respectable people, not only in Kharkov, but even in Vietnam. But that was worth it.
16-17.06.09. Jungle Water Park. Our new partner in organization of the student’s practical training, Alina Anatoliyevna Tobukh, the Director of the water park, reasonably offered us a two-day regime of visiting this “fountain of life”, and, by the way, for the first day we had planned the topic of “Study of Recreational Services', and for the second day, the meeting with the leader of the group which creates, promotes and implements these services with great enthusiasm and love, which is the most important factor in the success of the corporation. Our interest for it is very special, as there is no student of international economics who would refuse to study the foreign business experience developing in domestic conditions. However, our joy has multiplied not only because of what we learned about the corporate spirit, discipline and coordinated work of the team, but also because of potential opportunitites to have the industrial practical training there (most likely the pre-degree training), and if you try hard enough, you can get get your first job there. Oh, how nice it is to know that such a large and successful company needs certified economists on international affairs! The calculation has surpassed all our expectations: the climate and water, attractions and the presentation of the company by its director – all of it inspired us.

And this enthusiasm lasted for another three weeks, until the final expression of this practical training which was the three-day final conference.

22.06.09. The public corporation of Kharkiv Factory of Theatre Properties welcomed us hospitably and, as it seemed to us, with some hope. And we were interested in finding out what the situation with the garment industry of our city is like today: are there some prospects or are there still some advantages of the Kharkiv factory manufacturers in the clothing market, which has long been controlled either by some foreign or domestic private companies. Formerly, starting from the distant 1960s to mid 80s, the quality of factory clothing was immutable (with a few, however, deviations in the era of 'thrifty economy'), that was the period of mass production. It was replaced by serial production of small enterprises, allegedly targeted at individual taste and rapidly changing fashion trends. The 1990s not only marked the decline and destruction of the factory sector and significant deterioration in the garment quality and at the same time with a marked increase in prices, but also a powerful flow of cheaper foreign imported clothes from China, Turkey and others countries. What has always distinguished the products of our factories, even during hard times, is natural fabrics, quality tailoring and low price. The public corporation of Kharkiv Factory of Theatre Properties is an enterprise we can be proud of today. Having preserved the domestic technological traditions, the factory manages to cope with difficult tasks of structural nature, namely with modernization of production, reorganization of business relations, development of modern economic methods... Three strategic directions have been identified very competently, and as it seems to us, they are not only very resilient, but capable of making the factory one of the successful enterprises of the city: folklore festival direction (sewing costumes for the folk groups and thematic festivals), sewing working clothes and uniforms, sewing children's knitted garments. Having seen with our own eyes this creative workshop (is there anyone among us who has never tried to create garment models for himself some time in his life?) and compared with the opportunities to implement the designer solutions, we concluded: the factory has all the necessary constituents for success, they simply need to be optimized, on the basis of current conditions and future prospects. And we, both students and teachers, are ready for our part to cooperate fruitfully on the grounds of the statement of our beloved classic: 'In a man, everything should be fine: ... and clothes .... What could be better than such a mission?

4.06.09. The FED State Machine-Building Plant (State Enterprise FED Kharkiv Machine-Building Plant). The history of the plant started from the creation of the famous labor commune of Anton Makarenko, which later grew into a powerful industrial complex for production of universal hydraulic and compressor units for aviation industry and brake systems for railroad. The Museum Director, Gennadiy Mykolayovych Bolshakov showed us three generations of manufacturing equipment of domestic (1960s), Italian (1980s), German and Swiss (2000s) production, corresponding to the main historical phases of modernization of the plant. In the technical study, all the production of the FED Plant is represented - basic and consumer goods - cameras, sanitary ware, etc. There is also the information about energy-efficient systems for the main products and the switching to environment-friendly manufacturing operations and technologies of waste utilization. As a structure of the FED scientific-industrial corporation, the plant uses the latest advances in science which allows it to maintain a monopoly position in production and marketing of unique products in the domestic and world markets. The basic directions of commercial activity are: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and far-abroad countries (about 60 countries).

The analysis of the organizational and functional structure of the State Enterprise FED Kharkiv Machine-Building Plant has convinced us that the plant is now a modern economically efficient enterprise that employs successfully the entire marketing complex. Its Chief Manager is A.A.Zhdanov, the Director, who together with his team has provided the plant with the necessary volume of orders, partnerships, investment resources, for more than 20 years. The FED Plant is the permanent participant of the MAX annual international aircraft show, which allows successful positioning of products on the market. We were surprised that under conditions of unfolding market-based economic activities, the plant has managed to maintain a high level of social responsibility. In addition to secure employment and timely decent wages, the plant provides its workers with reduced price meals (30%), polyclinics, rehabilitation at recreation camps (10% of the voucher cost), and other bonuses and benefits. And two libraries and 'Madrigal', the private theater, whose performances are now very popular in Kharkiv, simply stagger your imagination. This, in our opinion, is the most important competitive advantage of the plant, whose success is an example and proof of the strength of workers of the domestic industrial sector. (O. Velichko, A. Farid, EM-31 group).

The Urartu Restaurant. Our students, already experienced enough in recreational services, did not hesitate to call this restaurant “a spot of paradise”. Moreover, the restaurant inspired them for a fairly detailed study of the history and role of the ancient state, and also a very thorough study of the Armenian cuisine and, of course, the economic activities of this enterprise. On an impulse of the best feelings, the students accepted the kind offer of the hospitable hosts (according to the Eastern tradition) to have a rest and strengthen their impressions with freshly baked flavoury khachapuri and soft drinks. At the same time, they felt the future prospects of 'Urartu' as a complex recreational service: the hotel, cascade of arbors and observation areas going down to the lake, sauna, SPA-procedures, billiards... But despite all this charm, there is the vigilance of our students (how good of them!), which was later imprinted in the eloquent titles of the report: 'economic indices', 'social responsibility', 'prospects for socio-economic development'. One can feel that the boys have a deep respect and concern for the activity of this enterprise, they are confident in its prospects the guarantee for which lies in the high quality service, openness and sincere joyous hospitality. It is not surprising that the presentation of the group was given in a partial and reverent way, and only the lack of time restricted the expanse of their imagination and thirst for creativity.

02.07.09. 'SUN InBev Ukraine' LTD is a company whose brewer products are known all over Ukraine and the CIS. The excursion was long-awaited, and due to the efforts of our guide, Oksana Chuvanova, our expectations were justified completely. It turned out that the history of brewing in our city had started in the end of the nineteenth century, and the history of the modern economic success of brewery since 2000. In the museum, where our tour started from, we saw a wide variety of bottles and labels for different kinds of beer that had ever been produced by the enterprise. To our questions on the work of the staff in the company, we got the answers from numerous stands along the route of our tour, which covered the mission, philosophy, structure, goals and objectives of the staff of the enterprise, labor relations based on the principle of social partnership with participation of the direction, staff and influential trade union organization.
We were amazed by the European level and volume of production of beer, of both domestic and international brands, and also by the sound marketing policy of the company aimed at strengthening of the leading position in the Ukrainian beer market.

'SUN InBev Ukraine' LTD is in our view an example of the company of the international level, open for cooperation with university graduates who have got modern knowledge and are responsible, initiative, creative and motivated. We wish the company further success and prosperity, and to the future students of our speciality we recommend to visit the brewery plant! (G.A Shulakov, D. Beketov, EM-31 group).

In all this tumult of meetings, we are undoubtedly pleased by the following:
The cooperation between the Faculty of Economics of the University and the enterprises of the city (and even of far-abroad super-developed countries!) is growing and expanding, and so the ties between the system of education and the real economy which have been broken in time and space are being renovated, the mutual interest of teachers and students, on the one hand, and heads of enterprises, on the other hand, is growing, and the necessary relations of mutual respect and understanding needed so much by our society are being restored. And there is some progress! Which inspires!




Faculty of Economics
c. Kharkiv, st. Mironosizka, 1
V.N. Karazin Kharkov National University