Johan Skytte Monument -


Although you probably have already decided what master to apply for, I am going to try and change your mind. If, however, you’ve already decided to apply for the International Relations and Regional Studies (IRRS) program, major props to you. You have definitely made a great decision.

 1. The great guest lectures

Okay, so technically this perk applies to the entire Johan Skytte institute. Nevertheless, I do not want you to underestimate the benefit of these lectures. Every so often the Skytte institute hosts some great scholars from all over the world, and these very talented people will give lectures on a large range of topics. While they may not all appeal to you, I can guarantee that something interesting will pop-up. Today there will be several interesting lectures on Asian politics. Especially the guest lecture by Matthias Maas on North Korea at Lossi 36-307 at 14.00 seems especially interesting, but that’s just my personal opinion.

5 Reasons to study International Relations and Regional Studies

2. The day trips and a week abroad

The professors at the IRRS program really enjoy promoting practical aspects of international relations. That’s why several day trips are hosted. While I’m writing this, my fellow classmates are visiting an active NATO airbase. These opportunities are exciting to me, and they provide great opportunities to learn more about various institutions in Estonia and/or the near abroad. Many more of these type of events will be hosted throughout the semesters. Another opportunity that is presented on a yearly basis, is a study trip to a conflict region. This trip is organized by the head of the IRRS department, Eiki Berg, and this year we are going to Kosovo. While the day trips are open to larger number of students, this study trip is limited to 10 students. So be prepared to write a killer motivation letter.

3. Interesting courses and inspiring professors

Since I have arrived in Tartu I have been amazed by the sheer number of interesting courses offered by the university/faculty of social sciences. If it were up to me I would never stop studying. However, the university expects me to graduate in a reasonable amount of time, thus I have decided to only take part in some extracurricular activities. Learning to prioritize has never been more difficult, and the fact that some of my professors are really inspiring is definitely not helping the matter. Nevertheless, I definitely prefer having to choose between several great options, than having limiting options.

4. East vs. West

Okay, Estonia is definitely a Nordic country. However, its history with both Soviet Russia and Europe has led to fascinating perspectives, which are well represented within the program. Besides these general outlooks, you will also have to focus on a region, which provides a more specific angle. I, personally, find this method very beneficial as a prefer specialized knowledge over general knowledge. Nevertheless, if you are interested in multiple perspective, you do not have to worry. While specializing is a compulsory part of your programme, you can always take courses that focus on different regions and angles as your electives.

5. Location and friends

Lastly this programme has been great due to its location and the amazing people I’ve met here. Yes, studying is great, but a city and its citizens can completely make or break your studying abroad experience, and so far, Tartu has yet to disappoint. While it’s a tad bit small, it’s cosy and there are always people willing to meet up and have a coffee or beer. It has never been this easy to make great friendships, that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Classmates and professors by Political Science – University of Tartu (facebook page)
Classmates and professors by Political Science – University of Tartu (facebook page)

So these are all the reasons to come to the University of Tartu. I hope that I inspired at least some of you to join me at the IRRS programme, if not, no hard feelings, we cannot all want the same type of program.