Anna Beitane (25), Project Manager at Johan Skytte Institute from Latvia
Tartu is a great place
for finding new ideas
After the studies in the UK, Anna considered different options all over Europe and finally decided to enroll in the EU-Russia studies programme at the University of Tartu. Here, she found a multicultural and active environment that encouraged her to stay and become part of the university staff.

Anna is currently an employee at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, where she previously studied for two years in an interdisciplinary MA-programme. The choice to move to Latvia's neighbouring country was not immediate: at the end of her BA in International Relations and Security Studies, Anna started to look at different universities considering all MA options that Europe offers "...and then I thought why I did not think about Estonia and the University of Tartu before! It is so close!" She knew it was a high ranking university in the region and eventually found the EU - Russia studies programme which fit her research interests and also offered scholarships.

As a student coming from another academic system, Anna highlights the differences between the Estonian university and her previous British university. "In the United Kingdom, the university where I studied had a more traditional approach, in the sense that students had to study on their own. Here in Tartu, there are more seminars and interactive activities in which students have to participate. The EU-Russia studies itself is a very particular programme" she mentioned, "it emphasises a problem-based learning approach."

Despite the differences, she is satisfied with working and living conditions and this is demonstrated by her decision to stay in Tartu after the conclusion of the MA degree last year.

I really like Tartu, it is a very cosy and university centered city. Tartu is a great place for finding new ideas.
English is the common language among students and professors, which is also the reason why she did not learn Estonian while she was a student. Since she speaks English and Russian, she did not have communication problems in her everyday life; however, today as an employee, Anna is taking Estonian classes and regrets that she did not take this decision earlier in her studies; "It is very helpful in a day-to-day life, even though everybody here speaks English very well. Also I think it is important to know the local language because it helps to understand Estonians and the culture much better." Outside the university, basic skills in Estonian can help a lot to feel more socially integrated, but Anna cannot really say that the language represents a barrier to her.

Unlike other students coming from more distant countries, she feels close to the local people. Estonian and Latvian cultures are not very different from each other, their mentalities are very similar and when Anna feels that she is missing something, she just goes home enjoying the weekend and comes back by Monday.
"I cannot name any major problems. I am satisfied with my life here, it's not so different from Latvia.
To her it is interesting to discover similarities between Latvians and Estonians through the Estonian language course, which helps her to get closer not only to the language but also to Estonian culture. "Our cultures are quite similar, I know, but it is always great to find out that we have something in common."

Estonia is the third European nation in which she has lived, and perhaps also the most European one. During the interview, Anna emphasised the strong Estonian sense of European identity. Overall, not only Estonia attracts and welcomes foreign students to study, to work and to settle in, but it also makes them feel more integrated in the European Union, giving them the chance to find and create connections in their area of interests, as in the case of Anna.
Made on