Mika Launikari

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Interview with Aarne Puisto (PART 2): Studying law abroad, aiming at an international career

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Once you decide to go abroad to attain a university degree, you do not only go for the piece of paper, but for the whole experience of living in and adjusting to a new country and culture far away from your original roots.

When taking your first steps in the new country, you are in an unfamiliar environment and surrounded by total strangers. This can be both challenging and exciting at the same time. Yet living and studying abroad will change you and your life probably more than you can anticipate.

Mr Aarne Puisto (24), a Finnish law student, has studied in Tallinn (Estonia) and Lund (Sweden). Here he shares his observations and views on what it means to be running a life as a student abroad and how that influences you as an individual.  

We should avoid cultural stereotypes and generalisations

“I have gained my international experience in two very different locations in northern parts of Europe. Tallinn and Lund are two medieval cities, both with their own unique flair. Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and – in that regard – the place where all the magic, the important things happen in the country. Lund, situated in the region of Scania in Southern Sweden, is a smaller university town characterized by students constantly buzzing around the medieval streets”, says Aarne.

“As a Finn it is pretty uncomplicated to move to Estonia or Sweden. After all, these two countries are our dear neighbours and historically we have close ties with them. Also, we follow what is happening there in the media and we travel to these two countries on a regular basis. There are many similarities between them and Finland, but one should not be surprised by the differences either.”

“Only quite recently Estonia regained its independence (1991), and although the country is developing fast, there is still some of the Soviet-time burden left in the society. Occasionally this can be seen, for example, as a lack of client-orientation and service-mindedness in the shops, restaurants and even at the university, but luckily things are quickly improving there as well,” Aarne highlights his impressions.

“And to our great irritation in Finland, the Swedes again are just slightly better than we are in every possible area of life. This causes us an inferiority complex, a lack of self-worth and uncertainty, unpleasant feelings of not measuring up to their standards. We Finns just need to be a little self-ironic to cope with this and learn to laugh at ourselves!”

Aarne admits that we should avoid using such stereotyped thinking, when we talk about our neighbouring countries, even if there eventually is a kernel of truth in such generalisations.

You gain more self-awareness and self-confidence

“This may sound as a cliché, but indeed living abroad shapes you as a human being. Basically, if you voluntarily have taken the step to move to another country, it shows that you are a curious type of a person and not afraid of unknown things. Instead you are pretty much open to the world, eager to expand your horizons, to take some risks and to learn about the country you are residing in”, Aarne expresses his thoughts. 

“I have definitely become more self-aware and gained more self-confidence during my studies abroad. Of course, this is part of the process of growing up as well. Yet when in another country you have to learn to be more self-reliant and self-sufficient to cope with the challenges of your everyday life. You do not necessarily have such a support network around you as you would back home, and that means that you have to take more action and responsibility on your own. You become more independent, more autonomous, which is a very positive result!”  

Self-discipline and goal-orientation

In today’s competitive world you are expected to perform well and deliver high-quality results already during your studies. A high degree of self-determination, goal-orientation and persistence is exactly what is needed to do well in your studies, but also what employers are increasingly looking for among university graduates when recruiting them for junior level posts.

Heavy partying, irregular daily rhythm and an attitude marked by a lack of responsibility are often associated to student life by many. But of course this does not apply to all students.

“I consider myself being highly self-disciplined … I even tend to think that this personal quality of mine has got stronger while I have been living abroad. I also have the habit of being very organized with a pretty strict time schedule and always respecting the given deadlines. Although I am not that much of a party animal myself, I still like to go out and have fun with my friends every now and then. But generally speaking, I tend to go to bed early for getting up early the next day. I need this fixed rhythm for my work-outs and jogging rounds before I attend the university classes in the morning.” 

“I feel like being … or becoming a cosmopolitan, a citizen of the world, after all these years abroad. Europe is now my home-base, it is very easy to travel around and move to another European country. Being well networked, knowing several foreign languages, having good social skills and possessing a good qualification will open the doors for me in the future.”  

READ also the first part of Aarne’s interview through this link.

VISIT Aarne’s LinkedIn profile through this link.

SEE also this academic article by Puisto, A. & Alavi, H. (2016) Abuse of Dominant Market Position by Predatory Pricing - The Valio Case

Text: Mika Launikari based on an interview with Aarne Puisto (Löyly, Helsinki, on 10 July 2016)

Photo: Aarne Puisto

Clusterfuck and Merry-Go-Round

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Yesterday, quite by accident, I got acquainted with the term clusterfuck on Twitter. There was a posting in which this vulgar slang term had been used to describe the way things happen to be in the world right now – completely twisted and upside-down. Indeed it is quite easy to relate to it after last week’s Brexit and the latest terror attack at the Atatürk airport in Istanbul just two days ago.

In a continuum of sad, bad and mad developments that we have seen in the past months, you may start wondering where all order and structure have gone from this planet of ours. How come we have ended up living in a clusterfucked world, where everything seems to go wrong for most of the time!? Adding more control and regulating life more seem to be the quick cure to everything.  

Our societies have obviously become such complex environments that nobody alone has the capacity or competence to manage them effectively anymore. Is it so that the prevailing economic, political and social system has reached a saturation point where citizens are getting fed up with the current leaders and start looking for new, even alternative approaches to function and express themselves?

Maybe our joy ride on the Merry-Go-Round has come to a dead-end. The slowly revolving circular platform affixed with different types of seats does not necessarily serve its purpose anymore. It only resembles a bustle of activity that leads us nowhere. We are not at an amusement park, where we can escape from real life, have fun and pretend that all is well.

It may not be easy to accept that what was valid in the past is now invalid to a great extent. Into which direction do we want to go together in the future? Who decides on that? All of us! There is no space for the constant communication failures between us people and our leaders that we have experienced so many times before. More transparency and greater openness are called for.  

Finally, no matter on which side of the car the steering wheel happens to be (right or left), we have to make our best to turn it into a brighter future for us all in this turbulent, chaotic and out-of-balance world.   

Photo: www.recruiterpoet.com

Science communication for increasing public outreach and engagement

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The word science makes people often feel a certain unease as they find scientific ideas and research-based evidence difficult to understand. For this reason, there is a great demand for well-targeted science communication that addresses the general audience in a language and style they are well familiar with and through channels they are convenient at using. The more research findings are shared with people, the better informed they are for taking well-argued decisions on important policy questions that may affect their lives directly or indirectly in the future.

These days the science community is frequently bombarded with challenges to increase public outreach and engagement with research as well as to make science better accessible to the large audience. Communicating science is not only about popularization, but ensuring that knowledge from the academic research community is timely brought to those, such as policy and decision makers, who need that information. Science communication can be regarded as a principal instrument for passing on the accumulated knowhow, experience and expertise gained through science and research to the entire society.

These days academics need to strengthen their professional ability to communicate about their ideas and discoveries as to secure their research funding and to justify the societal relevance and economic impact of their scientific findings. Moreover, effective science communication fosters collaboration and innovation across disciplines and allows applying cross-fertilization of research-based ideas to real-life challenges to a larger degree. Indeed from earlier one-way information provision, science communication is now evolving to a multi-professional, cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary dialogue between the research community, society, economy, state and third sector.

Science does not exist in a vacuum

Science and its results do not exist in a vacuum or in siloes, but they always need to be well contextualized and put into a perspective when communicated in the media. The benefits and exploits of science are to be explained and the scientific conclusions and/or recommendations explicitly justified to the public. Further, when presenting any research results and having a related debate, it is crucial to avoid creating a false balance where one party’s view weighs too heavily over the other party’s (Murcott and Willimas, 2013). 

As Murcott and Williams (2013) point out, scientific results are often presented as univocal truths, which may give an exaggeratingly one-sided view on them. The authors also argue that science journalists, who create visibility for research, should not only know about the final results, but as intellectual critics also understand the process that generated them. Further, as the use of online media grows, the working practices of journalists are changing and they are expected to produce an increased level of output for a fixed level of input. Working on squeezed resources does not necessarily allow a scientific journalist to become well enough acquainted with the research process itself these days anymore. 

Dialogue between journalists and scientists

These days science journalists are increasingly becoming public relations experts working at a fast speed instead of having sufficiently time for properly investigating any given scientific phenomenon they are supposed to be reporting about. Murcott (2009) describes this as “reproducing press releases”. He suggests that high-quality professional scientific journalism cannot only be based on such pre-selected information provided by the scientific community, but that science reporters should have good conditions for thorough analysis of any given research and its background before anything gets published in the media.

The journalists are assisting scientists to be better and more widely heard in the society. While reporting on any research, the scientific journalists aim at translating scientific and field-specific academic jargon into written stories that non-specialists can easily engage with (Rensberger, 2009). However, scientists may sometimes be objecting to the way journalists simplify and popularize their highly complex scientific evidence, although this normally only creates good visibility for their professional achievements.

Further, scientists may overestimate their own ability to communicate well with the general audience. This may, occasionally, be even more detrimental to their reputation and their chances of getting their message across than would be to allow the slightly streamlined and mainstreamed presentation of their academic work by a professional science journalist. In an ideal case, there is a respectful two-way dialogue on an equal ground between the journalist and the scientist. This is beneficial for both parties involved in promoting science and communicating its value to the general public.       

Bibliographic sources

Murcott, T. & Williams, A. (2013). The challenges for science journalism in the UK. Progress in Physical Geography

Murcott, T. (2009). Science journalism: Toppling the priesthood. Nature 459.

Rensberger, B. Science journalism: Too close for comfort. Nature 459.

Photo: theweek.com