Marina Pukeliene is a fresh cum laude graduate of the master’s programme in EU-Russia studies at the University of Tartu. Her name is related to the sea, and she comes from Klaipeda, a seaport city in Lithuania.
What does it take to achieve a cum laude? It definitely requires a lot of work, but also love for the programme and your subject. Marina is grateful to her supervisor, Professor Viacheslav Morozov, who guided and helped her through the difficult stuff, and is happy about the true friendships that evolved during her studies in Tartu: “I was really lucky that my coursemates have become not only my colleagues but also my friends”.
Although excited about graduation, Marina admits she is also a little nervous. All her summer plans got reshuffled after she received a job offer from an NGO working with Russia. Instead of travelling merrily with her friends, she is now looking for an apartment to settle down in Tallinn.
Marina came to Tartu two years ago after graduating from Vilnius University. She came purposefully, as she wanted to delve into Russia studies, and it is more than ever a hot subject on which to focus. “You need to know your neighbours”, Marina explains. Tartu seems to offer plenty opportunities for that: “There are a lot of connections to other universities, a lot of joint programmes, and a lot of autumn, summer, and winter schools on almost any subject”. There are also many lecturers invited who are professionals in their particular field.
However, during winter Tartu felt a bit too small, and the activities to engage in seemed limited. Most of the time she misses Lithuania when in Tartu, and misses Tartu when in Lithuania. “But you cannot be in two places at the same time!”
Having studied Estonian for a semester, Marina concludes that it is difficult, but doable. After all, her coursemate Leonardo from Mexico has taken an intensive course and is now fluent in Estonian. When asked about national stereotypes, Marina expresses her doubt as to whether a stereotypical Estonian even exists – maybe she will meet one when she moves to Tallinn? In her experience, even if Estonians are slow, they respond to emails very fast.
As for a PhD, the bright graduate is not sure whether it’s exactly the path she wants to take. Perhaps sometime in the future, if she has a grand idea to work on for at least four years.
At the end of the interview, Marina admits that she had some doubts when she applied for her master’s at the University of Tartu, but can now say: “Tartu fulfilled the majority of my expectations, maybe even more – I’d say Tartu surprised me in a good way”.
Listen to the podcast interview with Marina Pukeliene: