Monday, July 9, 2012

Skyped and Wiped Out

Friday morning, eight of us walked to ISM in a less than pleasurable state. Some were just tired, some were hungover from the previous night's ventures. The taxi ride to the airport proved to be more fearful than the flight. Our driver flew out of the parking lot, speeding down streets, giving us whiplash when turning, and nearly hitting the other taxi and other vehicles several times. I personally felt lucky to be in one piece upon arriving at the airport in Vilnius. The flight was a whole 40 minutes to Riga, Latvia, where we had a layover for about an hour. From there to Tallinn, Estonia, it was another 40 minute flight.
Once we landed, taxis were called and we proceeded to the Academic Hostel where we would be staying for the next two nights. We had a short time to drop our things off, and then we were headed to Tallinn University for a short overview of the history of Estonia, which we knew nothing about. After wandering around the poorly labeled and confusingly numbered campus for over ten minutes, we made it to the classroom late. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the teacher, who for all her genuine excitement about her country's history, couldn't keep some students awake. Those of us who managed to stay awake all looked bored, I'm sure. Although I found the history interesting, I had a hard time seeming interested, and I'm sure many of the other students shared my feelings.
When we were finished with the lecture, we had lunch in the cafeteria, and then headed over to Skype. For those of you who don't know, Tallinn, Estonia is where Skype started, and a good percentage of Skype's employees are in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia. A lot of us were expecting a huge skyscraper with a giant sign. What we got was a building that at first appeared small and was in the process of a remodeling. During the tour, we worked our way from the fifth floor down, walking all over each floor. I felt like an "Alice-in-Wonderland" phenomenon had taken place, as the amount of space inside would never have been guessed from the outside.

The corporation was very impressive, with "phone booths," open work areas, video conference/call rooms, open areas for discussions and relaxation, and even a cafeteria where the employees get free lunch.

Heidy Heinpalu, the facilities manager, showed us around and told us some about Skype. I particularly enjoyed the modern and open decor, the casual feel of the place, and how the managers sat in the open area with the employees. The tour was very impressive.

When the tour was finished, the nine of us and Maik Huettinger, a professor from ISM who accompanied us on the trip, went back to the hostel. The majority of the people went to sleep, completely wiped out from the already long day. I sat in the lobby doing homework for an online class I'm taking.
Later, we all went into Tallinn and walked around a little bit. After talking about it and knowing we had the next two days free, we planned to take a ferry to Helsinki, Finland the next day.

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