Maxime Belin, Winter 2020

Joining the BEAR 2019-2020 mobility grant as a scholarship holder, I was able to travel to the University of Tartu (Estonia) in December 2019. It was a unique and rewarding experience to be able to move in a different academic environment.

During my stay in Estonia, I was able to meet and work with professors who are experts in my field of research. Also, I was able to enrich my searches by discussing with students of the University of Tartu or with members of local think-tanks/associations such as, for example, a person involved in the integration of the Russian-speaking minority in Estonia. In this regard, I would like to thank Professor Eiki Berg for his welcome and advice during my stay. I would also like to thank Marco Siddi for having received me for long hours to give me precious advice and guidance in my reflection.

As my research project is about the perception of the Russian threat in the Baltic area (Estonia and Finland), this stay was very important in order to be as close as possible to the political, economic and international realities. It was very important to be able to discuss with people who are confronted with this subject on a daily basis and with people who are experts in international affairs. To be able to analysis my topic from different angles. It was also important to be able to use the resources of the University of Tartu as its library had a collection of books or articles that were only available in paper form.

Undertaking my research trip to one of the oldest universities in Europe would not have been possible without the financial support provided by the European Union. Therefore, I am humbly grateful to the BEAR network and all parties involved for their invaluable contribution in making this research trip an outstanding academic experience. I would especially like to thank Magdalena Dembinska for the great opportunity to participate in this trip. It was also a very enriching human and cultural experience. This “road-trip” to Estonia was also an opportunity to discover a country, its culture and its architecture. To see the Soviet vestiges but also to notice the modernity of the country with its commitment to digital technology. This trip reinforced my conviction that the study of the Baltic region and, in particular, Estonia is very important.

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