Monday, June 20, 2016

Year in review!

January 1st is a big holiday in Estonia and everyone celebrates the new year but for me the bigger end of the year celebration comes when Spring semester is over.  With it comes graduation ceremonies and students move on, the Fall ushers in new students, new courses, and new challenges.  With that Here is the 2015/2016 academic year in review!  This was a hard year.  In terms of work it was by far the hardest I have had to work.  still not as hard as many jobs but there was a lot going on. Here are some of the highlights!

  • The Institute of Politics and Governance ceased to exist and  a new school of governance, law and society was born.  The change meant a lot of confusion and extra work for everyone.  After a few months things started to settle down.  What made things wild was the fact that so many things were happening at the same time. 
  • I was in charge of designing a new master's program Global Studies.  It was approved by the University senate but rejected by the ministry of education.  An unfortunate decision, hopefully in the future we will be able to open it.  It was not an overly complicated process but it took a lot of work designing it, especially since everything had to be done in Estonian!  That meant extra work for Maris who did all the language editing- thanks Maris!
  • This year I had an extra position as the programme administrator of the International Relations Master's programme.  This meant a lot of administrative duties, one of which was to write the self-evaluation report for the accreditation that happened this year (it happens once every seven years). It was a lot of work but I enjoyed working with the students and trying to do my best to improve the programme. 
  • Study trips!  Most years we do well with study trips but not every year.  I got to go to NATO headquarters with a group of students and two smaller groups got to go to the European parliament to visit Estonian representatives there.  
  • I defended my PhD on February 29th this year.  It was a great feeling to get it done with. Overall it was a wonderful opportunity.  I feel very blessed to have been helped and supported by so many kind gifted people along the way. 
  • Teaching great courses.  Some courses were new like Transatlantic cooperation.  One of my favorite courses was non-traditional security.  I tried to do it in a non-traditional way by giving random assignments like the live below the line challenge
  • Supervising.  This year I supervised 20 students and I love them all.  It's hard for me to get to know the students as well as I would like in the classroom setting, which is why I like supervising so well.  It is great to work with the students in a one on one mannor and to be able to give feedback continually, throughout the period of a year or two not just after an assignment is turned in. 
  •  Teaching at the Estonian School of Diplomacy.  I got to teach a course US Foreign Policy at the Estonian School of Diplomacy for the first time.  It was a great experience.  They do intensive courses, so I only saw the students for about a week.  I made them do more work than most teachers but they were still happy to see me at graduation! This was the only graduation ceremony I made it to this year.  The Tallinn University graduation ceremonies were after I had left for vacation.  They are usually my favorite events of the year. 
The next academic year should be exciting as well!  I hope it will be less work because it was really a tough year.  We have a new security studies professor coming and I might have a new position.  There is at least one new course slated for me to teach as well which will be good.  New courses is how I learn the most.   I am going to a conference in Poland at the end of July- I'm not sure which academic year it counts for but since it hasn't happened yet I'll count it towards next year. 

With that its time for me to start enjoying summer!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Keila day 2016!!! Keila linna päev 2016

Everybody loves the fair, right? 
So do we. Except getting agoraphobia every time because people move extremely slowly.
Here are some photos of our tour around the town. They sell these things there that we love, barankas. Another favorite is different flavored lard. Yes. And people buy it.

Fish, anyone? 

Home made beer is a big thing.

Hand-made rye breads are wonderful. My favorite is rye bread that is super moist and is quite sweet. Herbs and seeds are great in it, too.

Sausages and meat truck is pretty awesome. Estonians love sausage, ham. Things like smoked moose sausage are pretty popular.

Our favorite were the Turkish sweets. The dude was from Istanbul. We love that place. We can eat endless amounts of kebab and Turkish sweets, seriously. 

Waffles and things fried in oil are very international, aren´t they?

Plants! Tomatoes, cucumbers, flowers, trees, bushes. What ever you need for your tiny Soviet apartment building balcony. 

A transportable petting zoo was our favorite. They had goats, a pony, geese, bunnies. 

Our daughter liked it but was intimidated by the mini goat that came really close all the time.

She also liked trampolines or as Matthew would say, inflatable jumping attractions. It was expensive and no amount of time was enough. We had to drag her away promising to buy ice-cream. Even that did not make her stop screaming. A child´s life is so hard, isn´t it?

Here is is going up (she is 2 years old!) the biggest one that was super high. All the other kids going up are big boys. It says a lot about her. She is a crazy climber and fearless and wild. Super energetic and just loves life and people.

A few shots just of the town and people.

A grill in the shape of a boat.

And of course we had to buy that big Olaf balloon for 8 euros. 

This video explains all of the problems that came after that:

Once we got home we just wondered where all of that money went. Because there was just a little pile of useless stuff  and one huge Olaf balloon. A mystery.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Nice job Twin Falls!

I recently read a great article about Twin Falls!  And no, it wasn't the one about the 100 million expansion of the already world's biggest yogurt factory.  Too often Idaho makes the news for the wrong reasons.  A representative from Twin Falls made the international news for refusing to pass legislation protecting basic rights of children.  The Economist has a great article about Twin Falls and refugees.  Nice job Twin Falls, way to stand up for what is right.