HOW IS IT LIKE TO BE A BALTIC SEA REGION STUDIES STUDENT IN TARTU – TURAL (AZERBAIJAN)
Why did I choose Baltic Sea Region Studies (BSRS)?
Back in my home country, I did my bachelor in Area Studies (Europe) in one of the most prestigious universities in Azerbaijan. My future goal was to continue this but rather somewhere else. I also did an internship at the EU delegation to Azerbaijan which helped me to understand in which area I wanted to continue my studies. I applied to several universities and was accepted to some of them. One of them was Tartu University.
Basically, my reason for choosing Tartu University and Baltic Sea Region Studies was that I decided that it would be better to look at one of the regions of European Union, rather than at all European Union. Furthermore, Estonia sounded like an exotic and interesting place to find out how life there is. I also had an idea of comparing Estonia and Azerbaijan, especially due to their recent history, like why Estonia is so developed compared than Azerbaijan. I found lots of similarities and differences, but no, I am not going to discuss it here. But if you find me in Tartu, we can talk about it.
What to expect from BSRS?
Before coming to study at Tartu University, I thought that Baltic Sea was only the Baltic states and thus, we would study Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. If you come focusing on those 3 countries, you’re in for a surprise! Because it is about all the countries of the Baltic Sea Region, not only the Baltics. It means besides the Baltic states, you will learn about Scandinavia (or Nordics), Germany, Poland, and Russia. That is AWESOME, right?
I don’t know how it is in other departments, but our department is super friendly. They help and guide you and explain everything that you have to take for each semester, so no need to discuss the ECTS, the modules, etc. However, I can assure you, you will have a lot of interesting studies, such as history, politics, international relations, environment, economy and social developments of the Baltic Sea Region.
Besides that, there are some courses, where they can offer field trips, or Modul of organizations, etc. Such courses can be Nature and Environment in the Baltic Sea Region, Insights to Estonian Culture, etc. Besides those mentioned above, I took a course on Conflictology and thanks to that spend some nice warm days on Cyprus. This course is offered every year and the destination varies. Other courses have brought me to visit military installations, so it’s far from just sitting in a classroom with a teacher giving lectures.
When it comes to the Master thesis, you can choose something that you are keen for, meaning you should choose something that is interesting to you. Of course, it has to have a relation with the Baltic Sea Region Studies. In my case, as I am a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest, I am writing about what role Mega-events, like Eurovision, have on host countries…
So how is life in Tartu as a Baltic Sea Region Studies student?
Living in Tartu, Estonia for almost four years now, I’m living proof of how amazing, yet sometimes difficult, it is to be a student of Tartu University. Taking that first step, deciding that you want to study abroad, away from home, is always the hardest step, you ask yourself ‘to go or not to go’. Of course, the traveling part is a great thing, but it is not without its challenges. A good thing to remember is that no matter where you go, you always bring yourself (your culture, traditions) with you. Even when moving to a different country, try to adapt to the new environment, learn and incorporate its culture and traditions with your own. In a sense, you become a diplomat for your own country while abroad, which gradually extends to the country you’re living in – which in my case is Estonia.
Studying in Tartu has helped me develop myself both personally and professionally. In my home country of Azerbaijan, no matter how old you are, your family is always there to help and support you. This can be a challenge when you are away from your country. Being on your own abroad means there is no dear mother you can run to get your clothes washed or to cook your favorite meal. No, you have to do all this by yourself, in my case, part of this also included learning how to cook and clean etc.
But just as important, you make lifelong friends. Tartu is such a multicultural city that you can basically find any nationality. Besides studies, there are a lot of activities you can take part of, for instance, join and be part of some organization (helps you to develop your organizational skills), or participate in some of the different events, which Tartu offers. The famous one is Tartu Students’ Days, which is a week every semester, where you can enjoy different activities, both as individual or group tasks, which besides the fun and joy, also gives you bunch of different souvenirs and experiences, and maybe also some drinks!
No matter which studies you apply for, I think Tartu university is a place where you will enjoy your studies and meet a lot of lifelong friends.