5 Things to Expect from Your Studies at the University of Tartu – Kateryna (Ukraine)

As a first-year student, you may have a lot of questions in your head right now. You have just arrived in Tartu, you are trying to understand the peculiarities of local weather (hint: stop trying, it is impossible), balance your schedule and still reserve some time for yourself. In the evenings, you may sit covered in a blanket sipping hot cocoa wondering what to expect from the next few years of your life in Tartu. I cannot describe your whole future but I can give you a little overview of what to expect from your studies at the University of Tartu.

Rainbow over Tartu
Photo credit – Kateryna Kubrak

1. Freedom of choice.

Even if most of your curriculum is comprised of core or mandatory courses that need to be completed in order to receive your degree, there are at least a few credits allocated for optionals. Optional courses, of course, also need to be completed to receive your degree but what is great about them is that you can choose any course you wish at the University of Tartu. And when I say any, I mean it. Be sure to thoroughly check ÕIS, we even have courses on jazz.

2. Opportunities, opportunities, opportunities.

I do not even know where to start! Firstly, as already mentioned, we have a ton of courses for all your areas of interest. Among those, there is a list of language courses taught on the basis of English. You can choose from 12 languages or study a few simultaneously like our former ambassador Rahul. Secondly, the university offers many chances to apply your knowledge to real-life projects. Check out Sandbox, Futulab, and Starter Programme. With these, you can practice your skills on existing projects and products or develop a product of your own. Thirdly, the University of Tartu has many partner universities where you can go for an exchange. Have you ever thought of moving to Australia or getting to know the far-far North? This is your chance!

3. Interacting with a huge international community.

I cannot resist adding a bit of subjectiveness at this point but I personally admire how diverse the community at the University of Tartu is. Most probably, at least a good half of your programme mates come from all around the globe, and during a few years of your studies, you will meet several international lecturers as well. This makes your time at the University of Tartu all the more interesting and memorable because wherever you go, you will experience a whole range of thoughts and opinions of different people. Your discussions during classes will never get boring, and on top of that, in a few years, you will be equipped with unique and sometimes secret bits of knowledge about countries and cultures of the Earth. 

4. Acquiring expert knowledge of Estonian tourism.

Let’s not talk about studies and courses all the time! When it comes to spending your free time travelling, Estonia is a perfect choice as well. It is small and it is beautiful! In Estonia, you can enjoy the views of beautiful cities (Tallinn, Narva, Elva, Kuressaare, Tartu of course!), national parks (Lahemaa, Soomaa, etc.), lakes (Võrtsjärv, Pepsi järv, Saadijärv), the sea (in Tallinn, Pärnu, and Saaremaa), and even cliffs (Panga Pank) and meteorite craters (Kaali Crater)! You will never get bored exploring Estonian landscapes and nature. Just go out there and see for yourself (but take all the precautions in these turbulent times).

Panga Pank, Saaremaa
Photo credit – Kateryna Kubrak

5. Finding yourself.

This may come out a bit subjective as well, but there is some absolute magic in living in Tartu. Maybe it has to do with the size of the town: you feel like you are in your little shelf, having all the time in the world to slowly discover and develop yourself. Maybe it has to do with all the things described above: you study, you volunteer, you experience, you try, fail, and try again. Maybe it even has to do with long dark nights when you learn to balance your life and mood while the weather is persuasively trying to put you back to bed. Yet, Tartu allows you to stop, think, and evaluate. At the end of the journey, you look back and realise how much you have grown. And all this growth happened here, in a place that you yourself will very soon call home.