Before moving to Helsinki in 2021, Ryan Reed had never been outside the US or on an airplane before. So in a way, moving on the other side of the globe to study for his master's degree was a crazy decision. On the other hand, it was just the right thing to do, as the University of Helsinki and international Master’s Programme in Russian Studies (now Master’s Programme in Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies) provided just the right kind of fexibility and freedom of choice Ryan needed for his plans to apply for a PhD.
"I think it was the Aleksanteri Institute that really attracted me – the opportunities that the close cooperation between the research hub and the programme could offer. Also, it felt like it was as close to Russia as you could go without actually going to Russia."
During his studies, Ryan got to concentrate on themes like Gulag and memory policies and even work in a Gulag-centered research project team. Also, he met the woman who later became his wife:
"That is probably the biggest benefit of all [laughing]. We were neighbors and she came out to greet to me when I first moved and that’s how we met. One thing led to another, and we have been married for almost a year now."
Irene Milani moved to Helsinki from Italy, where she previously studied translation and interpreting. She applied to the University of Helsinki to study in the Master’s Programme in Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies as she wanted to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Russia and its history, politics and society. During her studies, she developed an interest in many different national contexts beyond her initial interests.
"I was especially attracted by the multidisciplinary approach of the programme: having little to no previous academic knowledge on the subject, I was happy to have the possibility to explore different paths within the area studies scholarship and different countries besides Russia."
Also, during her stay, Irene has gotten plenty of opportunities to sharpen her networking skills which she claims were "almost non-existent". Despite her take on it, she has presented at an international conference, is working as an intern in the programme and has plenty of Finnish friends.
Laura Kämäräinen is completing her first year in the University of Helsinki’s Master’s Programme in Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies, which delves into these regions and their place in the world.
“My studies include politics, history, culture and questions of identity from the Russian perspective. In the current global situation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its causes are actively discussed. I strive to understand Russian society and what makes it what it is today,” Kämäräinen says.
In terms of employment, Kämäräinen hopes that her contribution will matter. She would like to support the development of the Russian education system through Finnish expertise.
Before coming to Finland, Peter Taggart studied Central and East European Studies and Russian at the University of Glasgow. He chose the Master’s Programme in Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies for a few reasons.
“During my undergraduate studies, I developed a keen interest in Russian language, society, and politics. When discussing future plans with academic staff at the University of Glasgow, they spoke highly of the Aleksanteri Institute and its research output,” Taggart says.
“For me, one major strength of the Russian Studies programme is the diversity of the core studies. When browsing other Russia-related Master’s programmes I found many of them were primarily concerned with security studies, which isn't my area of interest.”