How Learning Environment Matters: Example from Tartu

University of Tartu
Article by University of Tartu

We all know that learning environment affects our productivity. Now let’s say that you have decided to study abroad and are choosing between several institutions. Here’s where the learning environment becomes a crucial aspect to take into account! Although an ideal learning environment varies from person to person, research has identified a number of key factors that are especially relevant and the following discusses some of them, using the example of [Political Science at] the University of Tartu, Estonia.

1. Location

An appropriate location is of utmost importance. In a narrower sense, university should fit its surroundings, providing easy access and supporting infrastructure. In broad terms, the location concerns choosing a university which best corresponds to your expectations (type and size of the university, quality and reputation).

Tartu is the only university town in Estonia, and with every fifth citizen being a student, you can really blend in quickly. The University belongs to the top 3% of world’s best universities, and is known in Europe and beyond for its high quality of teaching and research. Much of its campus, including the renovated facilities for the Social Sciences, is located in the historical city centre, conveniently close to the University library, student dormitories, sports facilities and – also important – social life.

Angel's bridge
Angel’s Bridge

2. Resources

What do you need to study? Surely, good instructors and an adequate curriculum, however, when it comes to everyday activities, it is most likely a laptop or other device with internet access, a good library, and, on a more general level, networking and exchange opportunities to couple with the academic side of your education.

The Political Science education offered in Tartu combines the competences of its international teaching staff with Estonia’s first-hand experience. There are only a few countries that have experienced a successful post-Communist transition into an EU member state, located in one of the geopolitically most important and challenging areas in Europe. But there is only one country in the world that recognises e-residency, or where one can e-vote with an ID-card in the elections, or use WiFi almost anywhere. The MA programmes International Relations (with specialisation on the EU or Russia and Eurasia), Democracy and Governance, and Baltic Sea Region Studies offer several engaging opportunities to be part of these developments not only learning about them.

masters programme2

3. Distractions & support

Even for the best of us, distractions such as clutter on your desk, other people, or new tweets can interfere with the learning experience. The trick is to find what works best for you to keep these elements under control, or – even better – to make them work for your benefit!

In Tartu, colleagues become your closest network and instructors offer their best know-how to help you on your path. For example, make the most of your fellow student or a (potential) thesis adviser, either through group assignments, joint projects or available supervision. Choose you best study place – library, home or classroom? On the other hand, do not forget that after a long working day, a time-off is well deserved! Tartu has a broad alternative culture scene and an active student network who knows the best ways to relax.

Photo credits: University of Tartu
Edited by Mladiinfo International team

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