Where are you from?
I would describe myself as a European citizen, living between Brussels, Berlin and Warsaw. But I am also used to travel in Northern Europe and fell in love with Estonia and Finland when I started my PhD at the University of Tampere in 2012. Before that, I was spending my lifetime between Paris and Brussels, even if I must confess that France is not really my cup of tea (neither Great Britain in fact), as I feel more comfortable in Germany and Poland. To make it short: “I am from the EU and very proud of it!”
What would you like to tell about yourself?
I just finished my first PhD at the Sorbonne and can now focus on the second one in Tampere. When I first arrived in Finland I was disappointed, because I didn't find the excitement I had when I was living in China, neither the feeling of being at the center of Europe like in Berlin. It took me several months to get used to the state of mind. In the end, I started to understand the differences between all Nordic countries and also to appreciate the way of life in Finland, the exceptional beauty of nature and can say that the fact of living here is one of the best decisions in my live.
Why is Tampere the best place to live?
I chose to study in Finland for the simple reason that I love Northern Europe, but also because it is a more progressive country than Sweden or Denmark. Looking at the current European Union member states, the best of them, when it comes to education policy, women's rights, respect of environment, low criminality, etc. are almost all located in Northern Europe.
Contrary to Sweden or Denmark, Finland is a member of the Eurozone, which means a real advantage for foreign students, as they don't have to pay any exchange rates and can rely on the currency. You can exchange Euro all around the world, while Swedish and Danish people still have to pay expensive exchange rates. Finland is also a more open minded society as there are two official languages (Finnish and Swedish), a decentralized academic system, contrary to other Nordic countries, and also a tradition of welcoming foreigners - you can study, work and fall in love using English.
Finland is also the land of nature, as the urbanization started later than in the rest of Europe. Another advantage is the proximity with Estonia and the strong connections between the two countries. You can travel there and enjoy some fun time. It is also an incredible opportunity if you want to become an expert in EU-Russian relationships, in cyber-security or informatics. We cannot imagine a life in Finland without Estonia and this is why I choose Tampere, a welcoming place where I feel comfortable and close to the rest of Europe and Russia. Contrary to Helsinki, Tampere is well known for its university, the landscape and a relaxed way of life. I would say that Tampere is the perfect place if you are coming from abroad as it is beautiful, perfect to work and the university is free and with a high academic level. Compared with Helsinki, there are less foreigners in Tampere, no need to mention that Finnish people “would like to know more about you” in a professional and personal way.
Did I mention that Finland also has strong connections with China by the way? Well, let's talk about it later!
Tell about your professional activities?
I just finished my PhD in International Relations and started to work as a Senior Scholar at the China University of Foreign Affairs in Beijing on a special Research project called the “Spectrum of soft power”. This project will provide a tool in order to develop counter-Hybrid warfare strategies to academics and experts in China and the European Union and should, on the long run, change the way we perceive Political Science. This is why Tampere and Finland in general is perfect in order to often go to China.
Besides that, I am also the Research Director of “Caucasus Initiative”, a project gathering experts in Geopolitics, International Humanitarian Law, Migrations issues, and journalists. We are conducting investigation on the ground in South Caucasus. Once again, the University of Tampere is very helpful when it comes to have access to academic material.
What is your involvement in international activities
I am involved into three research projects. The first one, related to the EU-Russian Civil Society, is called “Human faces of Conflict”. It is an online platform where people can share human experiences at war. The other one is called “Women at War”. This project is coordinated by Tampere Peace Research Institute TAPRI at the University of Tampere in collaboration with Lund University (Sweden) and the University of Tromsø (Norway). It is funded by the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS). “Women at War” is a comparative approach of women’s experiences during wartimes in Africa and former-Yugoslavia and Ukraine.
Last but not least, I am the Research Director at the “Caucasus Initiative”, gathering several European and international researchers. The aim of the project is to provide analysis on geopolitical, armed conflict law and migration issues in Southern Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Karabakh) in order to understand the relationships between the US, the European Union, the Russian Federation and Turkey in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea areas.
What is your mission as a Tampere - All Bright! Ambassador?
I am working on improving the visibility of Tampere and especially the university in the European Union and China.
What potential do you see for Tampere in the future?
The city can become a hub when it comes to start-ups. There is already an impressive university and a good connection with the rest of the world. I would like to see Tampere as a major innovation center in Europe, but before that the prestige of the University and its ranking needs to increase. It would also require creating new infrastructures only for start-ups like they do in Berlin.
Want to know more about the Caucasus Initiative? Here are some articles in French:
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