Triin Kask – Born To Be an Entrepreneur

Already at an early age I started thinking about who I would like be in future, and by the time I was 12 I had decided to become a millionaire. I remember planning to study finance management in a place where you can get the best possible education and after that to open a great bank. This did not seem impossible at all. Today, I am far from working in a bank, and the goal of becoming a millionaire has also disappeared in the shadow of the exciting and meaningful life I live now.

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Triin Kask

I have made quite a few right choices in my life, which, unexpectedly to me, have finally directed me to entrepreneurship. It all started with dreams and decisions. The first decision was to study at the University of Tartu Faculty of Economics. This decision was influenced by my parents, who were patriots of UT and told me that the education given at the University of Tartu was the best education. Currently, I am writing my doctoral thesis and I am closely connected with the university; for example, I have promoted entrepreneurship among our students and tried to spread my belief that in entrepreneurship one can apply all the skills obtained through economics studies.

Actually, on several occasions I did apply for a job in a bank, but did not get any further from the job interviews, as I lacked experience. As a fresh graduate, it seemed to me that all people lived as if running in a squirrel cage and never stopped to understand or find the meaning of life. Yet I wanted to get into the wheel myself and start living in a closed system. Well, life is ironic sometimes. Looking back, I am happy I did not get a job in the bank, because life had something much better in store for me.

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Probably the Most Rocking Event of the Year: sTARTUp Day 2016

I was filled with genuine envy as I participated in a conference dedicated to studying entrepreneurship at Aalto University two years ago. I observed the lecturers of Aalto University who spoke one after another, each of them beginning their presentations with their eyes shining. They said: “Yesterday, we had Slush… Didn’t you happen to take part in it?” The sentence was followed by a five-minute-long description of how cool the event had been.

Each year, the event is organized by the students of Aalto University, with over 10,000 participants, including the presidents and prime ministers of various countries, as well as some of the most influential investors and entrepreneurs of the world. Of course, I had never been a part of it. And I was mad at myself – if I had arrived to Helsinki just a day before…

Andres Kuusik

Andres Kuusik. Photo by Kristi Henno

A year later, last October, I finally visited Slush (I’m still under its spell), and it took only a couple of months until I was sure – we need our own Slush.

At the end of last year I took part in four events – the contest of the Vega Fund, “Kaleidoscope” by the Idea Lab, the business plan contest organized by the Center for Creative Industries, and the presentation of Buildit, a business accelerator at the Tartu Science Park. I had realized that there are so many really important and wonderful events happening in Tartu, but no one knows anything about them.

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Is It OK To Take Pleasure in the Misfortunes of Other People?

Schadenfreude is often thought of as something immoral to the core. Behind the gloating half-smile there seems to be a malicious wish to see others suffer. A far more suitable response to other people’s disasters, however, seems to be compassion. All the same, it is nevertheless considered quite normal to read fairy tales to children, where the evil witch is pushed into the oven or the big bad wolf falls into the well, and rejoice that the story had such an ending. But here, too, we are dealing with pleasure at the misfortunes of others. Therefore, a question arises: is schadenfreude really as bad as it initially seems, or could it perhaps sometimes be morally justified?

In order to evaluate the morality of schadenfreude, philosophers have based their judgments on what exactly it is that delights us about the calamities of others. At least three sources of joy could be distinguished, sometimes manifesting in their pure forms, other times intertwined with each other. These include pure malevolence, a feeling of superiority, and the sense of justice.

Heidy Meriste

Heidy Meriste. Photo by Lauri Kulpsoo

Malevolence

One possibility is to say that schadenfreude is based on malevolence and all the pleasure derives from other people’s suffering as such. This is the approach taken by Arthur Schopenhauer – one of the most well-known advocates of compassion. Schopenhauer saw schadenfreude, and malice in general, as opposed to a mere egoism. For the egoist, the distress of others just constitutes a means to achieve some additional benefit for himself. For example, he might rejoice when the person walking in front of him accidentally drops her wallet, because he can now take it himself. A person feeling schadenfreude, on the other hand, is – according to Schopenhauer – glad for the other’s mishap even when there’s no profit for himself. Thus, other’s calamity has an intrinsic value for him. Described as such, schadenfreude comes dangerously close to cruelty, and we can indeed contend that we are dealing with a “diabolical” emotion (Schopenhauer 1995).

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Iaroslav Iakubivskyi: The Space Enthusiast

Meet Iaroslav Iakubivskyi – a master’s student from Ukraine, an ESTCube structure team leader, and a hiking enthusiast. Iaroslav has done a great job in introducing the ESTCube student satellite project to the world whilst attending many conferences related to space technology. He also finds Estonians surprisingly hard-working. We met on a snowy Monday afternoon in Säde.

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Iaroslav in Iceland, July 2016. One of the many waterfalls. Photo from a personal archive.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up studying in Tartu. 

So my brief history: Originally I am from Ukraine, where I have completed my bachelor’s degree in the National Aviation University in Kiev. After finishing my bachelor’s studies, I started the master’s programme at the same university in Kiev, but I found the programme not to be challenging enough and quit. Therefore, I enrolled in the University of Tartu for the master’s programme of Robotics and Computer Engineering in September 2015.

I actually did not know much about Estonia or the University of Tartu at first, but I found out that the university was quite big and very good at the international level. I also found the minor specialty in space technology which caught my interest. In addition, there was a possibility to apply for a scholarship and I got it.

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US Elections Show a Country Deeply Polarized

This blog post was written by students of the course entitled “Presidential Elections in the United States” — Karl-Gerhard Lille, Vy Nguyen, Luis Roberto Vera, Gert Siniloo — together with their instructor, Louis Wierenga.

The United States just elected its 45th President, Donald J. Trump, in one of the most controversial elections in living memory. This election has spoken to two major issues in American society: a deep resentment and mistrust of Washington by many Americans and an extremely polarized society in a changing world. This election also has numerous foreign policy implications that will impact other countries besides the United States, Estonia being one such country.

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Democratic and Republican Presidential Nominees – Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The choice made by American voters on 8 November 2016 was inconceivable and almost terrifying, but perhaps necessary. Donald Trump is indeed the President-elect of the United States, a testament to the national populist uprisings sweeping nations far away, as well as close to home. He is the symbol of the unrest gripping America: a sluggish economy tinted by societal turmoil, suspect national security, and no respite in sight. The mood of the nation was ripe for change, and Mr. Trump seized the moment. After an election season of moderate highs and tremendous lows, he prevailed as the candidate of opportunity, rather than of “managed decline”.

To be fair, the American electorate hardly awarded him a great mandate. Mrs. Clinton actually garnered two-tenths of a percentage point more in the popular vote tally than Mr. Trump, yet the Electoral College handed the election to him by a solid margin. The country is deeply polarized and it shows: the coastal blues are demarcated by a contiguous block of red in the so-called flyover country. We just witnessed the clash of these “respective bubbles”. The “out-of-touch” elites — the media and the entertainment industry, academia, as well as the government in D.C. — were effectively rebuked by a large swath of the country, who rejected the elites’ moralizing, as well as their policies. The white working‑ and middle‑class workers of the Rust Belt — the “deplorables” — actually broke for Mr. Trump in such measure that he almost swept the entire region. The people who voted for him tended to be those most hurt by the effects of globalization. Continue reading

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Memories About Travelling During the Soviet Times

Mare Ainsaar and Leho Ainsaar describe their trip to Talysh in April 1987 and how many marriages it led to. 

For the students of some faculties of the University of Tartu – the national university of its time – hiking was a part of the mandatory social life. The people from the Faculty of Natural Sciences were definitely the most active. Trips were taken both in an organized manner, where everybody signed up, and unofficially as well, on one’s own initiative. Often enough, medical students ended up as companions for the natural science students – especially when going to the desert, as a doctor with “antikürsa” was needed – as well as students from the Faculty of Economics. The latter were mostly valued because of their availability, as they lived in the same dorm as the students of natural sciences. But sometimes the groups were of unexpected and surprising composition.

In a slightly unexpected (then again, still logical) turn of events, the hiking tended to end up in places with beautiful nature. Unfortunately, such places usually happened to be located in the border areas of the vast Soviet Union territory, which meant possible contact with the army and all kinds of controlling instances and authority figures. The experiences weren’t always negative, but each time the hikers had to find some official reason for being there, as well as bring the all-powerful documents with them that would justify their presence in such a suspicious place.

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From Tartu to the nature park of Talysh (Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan). Photo from the book Otsides Spunki.

The story presented here concerns two days in April of 1987, when four students from the National University of Tartu in the Socialist Republic of Estonia had formed an official expedition for the Eesti Loodus (Estonian Nature) magazine to scientifically explore the nature park of Talysh, located in the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. The nature park was suitably located on the border of Iran and the Soviet Union, and also, “fully accidentally”, it was a great fit for hiking. The place was exceptional in the context of the Soviet Union, as it was the only spot in the territory that had a subtropical climate.

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How Did They Build the University in Tartu?

Every day, local citizens and camera-flashing foreigners pass the pillars of the University of Tartu Main Building, not to mention thousands of students along with the lecturers.  In the beginning of the 19th century, this was only a dream.

It was a dream that found its chance to become reality in 1801 when the Keiser Alexander the First finally reached a decision: the university would not be built in Miitava, Kuramaa (today we know it as the Latvian town called Jelgava), but in Tartu, Liivimaa, instead!  Two years later, Johann Willhelm Krause arrived in town and went on to become the architect of the university ensemble in Tartu.

Johann Wilhelm Krause

Johann Willhelm Krause (1757-1828), the architect of the University of Tartu. Photo credit: Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation

Enlightenment brought a novel conception of the university, a vision of the architecture that was suitable to the era and was widespread from Europe to the United States. In many ways, the student campuses that formed in the 19th century have become a reflection of the changes that took place in the social consciousness and inter-societal relationships, and paved the way to the development of the modern world of today. In this tumultuous rising tide, the architectural ensemble of the University of Tartu was born, one of the most genuine and best-preserved examples of a university of the Enlightenment era.

When speaking about our alma mater, we have to start from the year 1632, when the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf founded one of the four universities in the Swedish empire, then known as Academia Gustaviana, in Tartu. In the 18th century the Great Northern War forced the university to cease activities, but the university was reopened in 1802. After some disputes about where to locate the university, the new emperor of Russia, Keiser Alexander the First, conclusively designated Tartu as the location.

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