Here are our most popular stories from last year. These include a map challenge, our mascot Tiksu, professional success, love, reflections of studying at the University of Tartu and tips for coping with new environments. Enjoy!
A bunch of University of Tartu geographers participated in the #30DayMapChallenge 2020 on Twitter: Evelyn Uuemaa, Anto Aasa, Tõnu Oja, Janika Raun, Alexander Kmoch, and UT Mobility Lab. 30 maps were selected and grouped by topic. They visualize both essential and fun facts about Estonia.
Mariana Tulf wrote how in a short time, mascot Tiksu managed to become the topic of many fun conversations and a hit even in the meme community. For instance, Tiksu has been named the “student’s spirit animal” as well as the “cutest chick of Tartu!”:
The blue bird became famous overnight. Students found Tiksu to really represent the average scholar, and lectors saw many similarities between Tiksu and the freshmen. Additionally, the meme community loved the bird and saw it as inspirational material for creating student art. The rest is history.
More maps! The results of the #30DayMapChallenge have won many UT blog readers hearts. In previous years, several staff members of the Department of Geography have participated in the challenge but in 2021 also many master’s students from our MSc programmes (Geography, Geoinformatics for Urbanised Society and GEM) joined in.
Emmanuel Jonathan (student of MA programme in International Law and Human Rights) shared a story about his first, nerve-wracking travel, which also won our contest for international students.
“I was worried about being rejected after I had left my job at home, paid my tuition, and said goodbye to friends and family.”
Sharipha Rzayeva – a psychologist from our Counselling Centre – compiled a thorough article about adaptation and academic stress. In addition, she also provided numerous tips for self-help:
Start studying according to your energy, time, and other necessary resources, instead of committing so much that you have to act on the limits of your abilities, time, and skills all the time. No one can do his or her best all the time. It is important to constantly move towards the goal at a pace that suits you.
Kateryna Kubrak took us for a walk down her memory lane where she looked back on her student years and summarised the overall outcomes:
The thing I like about studies at the University of Tartu the most is how discussion-heavy they are. There is almost no place for out-of-the-book questions and answers at the lectures, quite the opposite — the lecturers always expect you to find arguments for your thoughts, and so can you. It is very inspiring to see your lecturer, the person who’s supposed to know it all, go “Let me think about it” and engage in an equal discussion with you.
Sometimes you don’t have to look far for answers to difficult questions – life will throw them your way. This was the case with Aylin, an Azerbaijani who became interested in studying genetics and biotechnology because of a disease that runs in her family:
The more I read about genetics, the more involved I became in it. I was fascinated by what actually causes disease and whether you can prevent people from developing particular conditions.
How easy is it to find a job in Tartu as an international student? What are the keywords when applying to your dream job? Anna Albert (student of the Innovation and Technology Management programme) shared her job hunt story, which included practical recommendations:
But, as in every movie, everything went differently. After one month of enjoying student life to the fullest, which included studying at the library, trips, different hobby clubs, and parties (it was pre-Covid times), I got tired of all of this and started to miss professional networking, as well as events with professional value.
There’s no question that the University of Tartu is alma mater to a number of Estonians and foreigners, but next to education, many have also found their love here:
“I remember how once, in the very early days, I was about to leave Tartu after a session. I was sitting in the café, waiting for the bus. Lauri had already left. I looked around and felt so much in love and realised that this must be the right thing,” Kiira happily sighs. “I believe that it was Tartu, the university town and the vibe here, the spirit, that had this effect on us.”
The head of international marketing of the University of Tartu – Eveli Soo gave an overview of her pilot study where she looked into the relationship of international students and Estonian movies. Teaser: the article includes a great list of movie recommendations:
I asked current international students of UT whether they have watched any Estonian films and the results may… not surprise you.