åbo akademi university (the factory mill) in vaasa

I am enjoying the Saturday morning with a cup of dark-roasted coffee and chocolate cereal. I usually do not and I should not, but the urge was too big to handle. Coffee makes me irritated, jittery and anxious because it has more caffeine than I take. Chocolate cereal provides little nutrients and makes me hungry after a while. That is why I prefer green tea and porridge. I felt making an exception today.

I moved from Vaasa to stay and live in Turku for the summer as well as the last academic year. I lived with my parents past three summers to work and get money, and save rent and food money.

This time I decided to make a change in my life and move to the city center and share an apartment with others.

I live with four people from South Africa, France, and two from Finland. They research cancer biology, study mathematics, and architecture, and work in automotive engineering. I am extremely lucky to get to live with such super fun, intelligent, and kind people.

Ordinarily they asked me what I study. And it is always such a “pleasure” to describe my studies to new people I meet:

I study humanism, nonviolence, gender studies, nordic welfare, nonkilling, civil resistance, AGGRESSION, PSYCHOPATHOLOGY, INTERNATIONAL CONFLICTS, WAR, EVIL, VIOLENCE, KILLING, and TORTURE. ... :)))

In International relations and conflicts course I jumped right into the unknown waters and learned about dozen theories that describe how nation-states interact in a world that has no rules or a ruler. How super effing interesting is that! And how peculiar that the programme did not make this course mandatory as it introduces some key ideas on how conflicts emerge in the state level. The peace programme focuses more on the individual.

Among many things, I learned that countries where men treat women unequally have more frequent and severe conflicts with other countries (McDermott, 2020). Therefore, educating children to treat all genders as equal reduces the likelihood of violence within and between nation-states, and terrorism, and many other problems.

In my final assigment, I analysed whether Finland should join NATO or not, and argued that Finland should join NATO when analysed through Realism School of Thought.

But after the Nonkilling course I realised that joining NATO does not help us realise peace. During the course, we did a group exercise where we imagined a nonkilling society by 2050.

A ‘nonkilling society’ is a human community characterised by (1) no killing of humans and no threats to kill; (2) no weapons designed to kill humans and no justifications for using them; (3) and no conditions of society dependent upon threat or use of killing force for maintenance or change (Paige, 2003).

Joining NATO is to depend upon a threat or use of killing force to maintain or change the society. After all, whatever one opines about NATO, it is in essence designed to kill people. Therefore, joining NATO does not help us to achieve a nonkilling future.

And while imagining possible futures seems like a stupid, useless thing to do, we need to do it to shift our attention and action to a world we want to live in. We often forget this, and develop reactionary, short-term thinking fueled by emotions such as fear.

In the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991) our attitudes toward the behavior and perceived behavioral control affect our intentions which in turn affect our behavior. Therefore, imagining futures is fundamentally about changing our attitudes and perceived behavioral control, which would then affect our behavior. In that sense, imagining futures is an essential first step toward the desired future.

theory of planned behavior

If peace and a world without killing is too distant idea and hard future to imagine, given the war on Ukraine, and other killing and suicides that happen every day in all parts of the world, focus on your own future life and see how it works.

For example, athletes and actors often imagine their performance before they do it, and it greatly increases their chances of success. In the same manner, when we imagine a world without killing, we increase our chances of achieving it.

Unfortunately, killing is so widespread and common in the world right now that it is taken for granted. We are numbed to it. It is supposedly a natural and inescapable aspect of life and human condition. However, majority of the people have not killed and do not want to kill, those who are forced to kill avoid it at all costs, and the few who end up killing develop post-traumatic stress disorder among other psychological trauma. Therefore, killing is far from normal human behavior.

In the Violence, aggression and psychopathology course I learned that even mere exposure is enough to create more violence, so not just being the victim or aggressor. That is, previous exposure to violence is a risk factor that best predicts increased violent and antisocial behavior later in life (Dubow et al., 2019).

Violence is an epidemic in the exact same sense that coronavirus is. In that regard, the war in Ukraine is not solved by offensively attacking Russia, either by the Ukrainians themselves or Europeans. It only creates more violence.

What partially explains killing is our underlying biological predisposition for aggression. This means that humans, like other animals, can solve conflicts by being aggressive.

In Peace literature studies 1 course, I attended the seminar hosted by International Society for Research on Aggression, and learned that social experience dramatically shapes the level of aggression, namely how simple winning and losing can affect the brain structures in the chemical, synaptic, and neuronal level in mice. This can be generalised to humans to some extent.

This finding implies that the cultural and social conditions can exacerbate or curb aggression tendencies. So it is not that “we cannot do anything about it, because it is in our genes”. We can. For example, I have heard from so many people, from my family and friends to lecturers that aggression and violence is something inherently permanent in Russian population and culture.

This is incorrect. It is not the Russian people but the living conditions that give rise to such behavior—name it system-wide structures or organisations. Moreover, soldiers are conditioned to killing within the military organisation. So there are more caveats. This is to say that Finnish people can be aggressive and violent, and kill, under the right circumstances.

There were three more courses that I took part in. To put it short, Critical perspectives on migration, citizenship and inclusion course taught me that migration is a complex and highly political topic that I need to understand more. Torture and its treatment course taught me how to torture people in the most effective way. And Scientific writing taught me something useful too I think.


I have to go feed and babysit friend's Bobby the Cat now. Until next time! Adiós!

#university #finland #peace

I argue that Finland should ally with NATO.

In this blog post, (1) I will tell you about the rules of the game that the (2) players play, and (3) what kind of moves they can make in the game. Then (4) I will describe the the necessary past moves (history) and (5) what is happening in the present. With this knowledge, (6) I will make two predictions. All things considered, (7) I argue that Finland should ally with NATO. I end the post with a short note on limitations.

N.B! I do not think that any aspect of life is a “game of chess”; the words (i.e., players, moves, game) used in this blog post is to make it easier for me and you to understand what is happening.

1. Rules of the Game

Let us start with the logic behind neorealism—one of the many theories of international relations (IR)—that is the following:

  • We live in a system that has no rules and no guarantees of safety. States realise this and thus their need for power.
  • This power is realised by material capability such as land, wealth, and manpower.
  • Because of this offensive capability, states fear, mistrust, and suspect other states’ intentions.
  • This leads states pursuing survival by maintaining territorial integrity and autonomy of their domestic political order through increased material capabilities.
  • States are rational actors making rational decisions in a self-interested and maximising manner, where the costs and benefits of possible choices, reactions, and outcomes are evaluated. However, sometimes rational actors make mistakes because of insufficient or bad information.
  • Therefore, it makes perfect strategic sense for states to gain as much power as possible and, if circumstances are right, to pursue hegemony.
  • The current paradigm of neorealism is one of constant security competition in which threatened states do their utmost to survive, which consequently threatens other states, and they in turn to the next, and so forth.
  • Hence conquest and domination are not good but having overwhelming power is the best way to survive.
  • Power is the means to an end and the end is survival.

N.B! Neorealism does not account for emotions (e.g., fear and hatred). Emotions are a huge factor in human behavior, and it is a huge mistake of neorealism to disregard them. But mind you, neorealism emerged during the same time when behaviorism was hot—a school of thought in psychology that also ignored emotions.

Neorealism has two variants: offensive and defensive. They are as follows.

Offensive realism says that states seek to maximise their power by conquering land and expanding their sphere of influence. Indeed, states that initiate aggression win three out of five times (n=63). This makes these states revisionist. Revisionist state aims to change or put an end to the current system.

In contrast, defensive realism sees that states seek to maximise security through maintaining the status quo. It is the safest path to ensure survival. Overexpansion is almost never profitable and its consequences are dire. For defensive realists, overexpansion is the product of domestic and unit-level variables such as cognitive biases, cartels, propaganda, and state personnel.

In many ways Russia follows the offensive realist approach and Finland defensive realist.

2. Players

According to neorealism, the only actors in IR are states. Non-state actors are said to possess little power in IR. I do not agree with this but let us assume this for the sake of the argument.

There are small states and great powers (“big states”). They are the “players” that follow the “rules of the game”. This paper regards Finland as a small state and Russia as a great power, which is clear in many respects to academics and non-academics alike.

The difference between a great power and a small state is the following material power: manpower, territory, and economy.

A great power is a state with a larger material power, and therefore it has more power (capacity to influence) to exercise outside its borders, better security from outside pressure and attack, and more space to exercise its national policy.

In turn, a small state is the opposite, and as such more vulnerable to pressure, more likely to give in under stress, and has limited political options that it can pursue.

Of course, just the sheer physical size of the state in terms of manpower, territory, and material are not the only factors discerning great power from a small state.

Societal well-being, geographical proximity to potential conflicts, the cohesion of the general population, and the amount of domestic support that a government enjoys are all factors that affect a state's ability to exist and be an active member of the international community.

However, neorealism often ignores these factors, not because they do not exist, but because they do not have as much impact as material power in IR.

Despite small states’ lack of material power, they have succeeded multiple ways in international organisations, norm-building, climate change debates, diplomacy, and alliance-forming. Where small states lack militarily, they can compensate economically, diplomatically, and institutionally. Other IR theories explain these much better than neorealism can.

N.B! How to define 'small states' and 'great powers' is an ongoing debate and I do not know the answers to that. However, I do argue that a definition such as 'small state' and 'great power' elicit ideas of static attributes and disregard the notion that power is a dynamic relationship. As such, how we understand states and their relationships has a direct impact on analysis and conclusions.

3. Moves

Traditionally neorealism is the theoretical framework through which IR explains alliances. Small states and great powers usually form alliances to survive and concentrate power or they can avoid conflict and maintain political independence by remaining neutral.

In other words, allying or remaining neutral are the possible “moves” that the “players” can make in the “game”.

Neutrality has many synonyms like non-allied, non-alignment, military non-alignment, non-belligerency, military neutrality, and neutralisation, all of which have their own subtle differences.

For the purposes of this blog post, it is worth defining neutrality, military non-alignment, neutralisation, and military alliance.

Neutrality means to not taking part in a war. Military non-alignment is one where the state is not a member of a military alliance. Neutralisation is a process by an outside power to make the target state neutral either voluntarily (e.g., Austria) or coercively (e.g., Finland). Military alliance is a a formulated mutual commitment to contribute military assistance in the event one of the alliance partners is attacked.

Pros and Cons of Military Alliance

Pros are extended deterrence and military assistance assuming a war happens. Cons are sacrificing autonomy in controlling national resources, losing freedom of political manoeuvre and choice, and becoming involved in wars that have no direct benefit to the nation

There is supportive empirical evidence that a state is more likely to go to war to aid another state if they are formally allied. In any case, military alliance is not a golden ticket to survival. Even with a military alliance, small states must always be on alert on matters of security. That is, in my opinion, even if Finland is to join NATO, we cannot assume that the U.S will come and save Finland nor to assume that the U.S stays in NATO.

Pros and Cons of Military Non-Alignment

Pros are not sacrificing autonomy, not losing freedom of political manoeuvre and choice, and not becoming involved in wars. Although, while Finland was neutral during the Cold War, it had little autonomy and freedom in how to exercise foreign policy.

Cons are that there are not many safety guarantees, effective neutrality depends on trusting that the neighbour does not invade, and on the neutral state’s own military deterrence capabilities. For example, Sweden and Switzerland understood from WWII that neutrality is only effective if it is coupled with high levels of domestic armament.

4. Past Moves

Finland successfully defended itself from the Red Army in 1944.

In 1948 Finland was coercively neutralised by Soviet Russia when it signed the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (YYA Treaty), which denied Finland from joining any alliance that Soviet Russia would perceive to be a threat. Overall Finland had very limited foreign policy options, and Finland never considered the treaty to be a military pact and avoided any more cooperation than necessary.

Finland became a Western country and society once it entered the European Economic Community in 1972.

The Cold War ended the TFCMA which formally removed the last restrictions on an independent Finnish foreign policy. A new treaty on the Foundations of Relations was signed between Russia and Finland thereafter.

And upon finally joining the EU in 1995, Finland stopped being a non-aligned country as it agreed on the EU treaties of military assistance clauses. Finland integrated with European policies and now shares broader strategic concerns with the EU.

The notion of ‘military non-alignment’ morphed into ‘no membership in military alliances’ in 2007. However, I do not think there is a difference between the two in essence.

5. Present Situation

Both the EU and NATO have binding obligations of mutual defence, Article 42.7 and Article 5 respectively. Military assistance obligations notwithstanding, even if the EU were to be a military alliance in theory, it is not in practice simply because “the EU has no explicit collective defence or collective security guarantees or functions” compared to NATO. In the foreseeable future the military structures and preparedness that exist in NATO will not be built within the EU.

Bergquist et al. (2017) list defence and military implications and strategic and political effects of NATO membership for Finland.

Defence and military implications are the following.

  1. Given that Finland and NATO have congruent defence policy and requirements, NATO membership does not therefore necessarily lead to Finland devising plans for defence expansion in the Baltic area in a considerable manner. Finland’s military contribution is limited in defending the Baltic area anyway. In all likelihood, it would be the major powers who would help them.
  2. When it comes to nuclear weapon capabilities, Finland will not acquire them but may join the Nuclear Planning Group to be part of the planning.
  3. NATO membership brings more tools to Finland’s existing hybrid warfare defence framework.
  4. Finland would still maintain conscription and its defence forces.
  5. In terms of increasing defence budget allocations, NATO tries to maintain a 2% ratio to GDP. Finland should, despite NATO membership, increase its readiness and modernise the force structure. (At the moment Finland holds a 1.96% ratio.)

Strategic and political effects are as follows.

  1. Sweden and Finland joining NATO would be the single widest NATO expansion since 1952 when Turkey and Greece joined it. This would strengthen Finland’s and Northern Europe’s immediate security, and increase military deterrence.
  2. The membership would probably lead to a serious crisis with Russia, though any military conflict would not happen due to Article 5.
  3. Some European countries accept Finland and Sweden into NATO but at the same time they are hesitant and think that it would create more problems than solve them, and thus the status quo should be preserved.

Indeed, Sweden and Finland would and should have to make the same strategic choices given that they share the same security and defence concerns and uncertainties in the Nordic and Baltic space. (This was a surprise to me when I started to research the topic.)

If Finland joins but Sweden does not, it would create an awkward NATO discontinuity, whereas if Sweden joined but Finland did not, it would recreate the Cold War setting. Therefore, Finland and Sweden will most likely ally together or remain militarily non-aligned together.

6. Predictions: Possible Moves

Dan Reiter (1994) examines the reasons for states’ preferences for alliance and neutrality. With a quantitative approach, he tests and compares the predictions of Balance of Power Theory based on principles of neorealism and the predictions of Learning Theory based on principles of social psychology.

Balance of Threat Theory is concerned about short-term reactions to changes in the international environment. In turn, Learning Theory focuses more on long-term ideas about the plan of action.

These two theories are in no way opposites but they do test different premises within the same framework. Both theories are tested against ‘formative events’, which are defined as systemic wars where great powers fight. Accordingly, these events realign state relationships, alliance and neutrality policies.

Balance of Threat Theory

Small states are cumulatively more likely to prefer alliance than neutrality, despite experiences of the past, if the following conditions apply:

  1. If the small state is geographically exposed to a potential revisionist than if it is not
  2. If there is a perception of imminent high threat and,
  3. If there is a considerable military disadvantage

Prediction: Finland shares a 1340-kilometre border with Russia, there is a perception of threat (not imminent per se), and there is a military disadvantage. Therefore, Finland would seek alliance.

Learning Theory

States are more likely to prefer alliance than neutrality, despite heightened international tensions, if either the following conditions apply:

  1. If a state's past experiences during a formative event were not favourable when neutral or allied, then a state learns to change its alliance policy.
  2. If its past experiences were favourable as a neutral or an allied state, a state learns that it is worthwhile to keep it this way the way forward.

Prediction: Finland allied with the Axis powers during WWII, experienced failure, and then opted for neutrality. Therefore, Finland would continue military non-alignment as that has worked so far.

Reiter's quantitative analysis (n=127) had the following conclusions:

  • Small states learned lessons from formative national experiences that shaped their neutrality-alliance policy, and that variations in the levels of external threat barely affected this decision. That is, Learning Theory predicted the outcomes significantly better!

  • Small states act congruent to their own experiences rather than according to experiences of all states in order to draw wider lessons.

Accordingly, this would imply a higher likelihood that Finland maintains its military non-alignment policy despite the elevated international tensions and Russian invasion on Ukraine. Furthermore, Finland may not draw lessons from the war in Ukraine regarding whether Finland should join NATO. In other words, the military non-alignment policy has worked so far and therefore Finland would continue this policy.

7. Conclusion

Even if the predictions based on Reiter’s work say that Finland would statistically-speaking remain militarily non-aligned, I think it is a mistake to remain non-allied.

I reason as follows. The fact is that Finland and Sweden are part of the EU and cooperate with NATO as much as they virtually can. From a Russian perspective, both countries are already “westernised” countries that cooperate with NATO to the fullest extent without official military alignment and agreements.

Moreover, the war in Ukraine was an impetus for Finland and Sweden to ally with NATO. It would be a grave miscalculation on Russia's part to assume that such an impetus would not happen. NATO expansion in the Northern Europe would be counter to their motivation to thwart NATO expansion in the first place in Ukraine.

Therefore, Russia—assuming they are acting rationally as per neorealism—has already calculated this outcome and therefore does not see the two Nordic countries aligned with NATO as a more of a threat than they already are without the membership.

If this is the case, then Finland has all the risks of NATO membership without, however, the supplied deterrence provided by Article 5.

Therefore, I argue that Finland should ally with NATO.

From a peace student perspective this seems an interesting conclusion. But honestly I do not think that a neighbour who does not value treaties can be trusted to respect our territorial integrity. Russia is already testing the Baltic area with hybrid warfare and aerial violations. Indeed, former Finnish president and peace broker, Martti Ahtisaari, thinks that Finland should have joined NATO years ago, to be part of the Western idea of security and safety, norms and beliefs.

Should Finland join NATO or not, I think that Finland should not play by the same “game rules” (read, neorealism) as Russia does. This is where my knowledge falls; I do not know what that would entail. But I do think that Finland cannot just seek power through weapons and conscripts. [1]

As Kennan said in his telegram in 1948, “At bottom of Kremlin's neurotic view of world affairs is traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity”. He continues, “[Russia is] impervious to logic of reason, and it is highly sensitive to logic of force“.

Therefore, NATO membership is nice and all, but in the end, I hope that Finland and NATO builds only the minimum necessary military structures in Finland. There is no need for walls and bases.

Finally about limitations. I do not necessarily subscribe to the idea of neorealism on all accounts as it does not account for many other phenomena in IR or human behavior at large. Indeed, that is why IR theorists have come up with many other theories from the English School to Green Theory. So described, I must say that I have yet to learn and understand other IR theories and their implications and predictions to Finland's future military non-alignment policy. This is a considerable drawback in my analysis.

[1] EDIT. Therefore, there is an inherent weakness in this analysis: as I follow the neorealism lens the analysis becomes biased, and ignores the other ways we can handle the situation with Russia.


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Bergquist, M., Heisbourg, F., Nyberg, R. & Tiilikainen, T. (2017). The effects of Finland's possible NATO membership: An assessment. Ulkoasiainministeriö.

Dunne, T., Kurki, M. & Smith, S. (2020). International relations theories: Discipline and diversity (5. edition.). Oxford University Press.

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Salmon, T. (2006). The European Union: Just an alliance or a military alliance? Journal of strategic studies, 29(5), 813-842.

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). (1949). The North Atlantic Treaty (1949).

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#essay #NATO #Finland

I live in Vaasa, Finland now. I have a group of friends from Canada, the U.S, and Belgium. Or was it France? That guy never made up his mind about his national identity. The Canadian lass has Scottish ancestry and knows how to make super delicious white bread. And the guy from the States actually has a Finnish passport, which means that upon arriving to Finland, the military asked him to join conscription. Ironic that he went to study peace but instead was given a rifle.

What an odd bunch of people we are. Anyway, after the turn of the year, a young woman from Turkey, a middle-aged Irish guy from Finland, and a young Finn-Swede(?) guy move to Vaasa. I think we are going to need more chairs and cutlery if we are going to keep hosting our weekly dinners. Also card games are going to get interesting with more players.

So I mostly spend my daily life behind a laptop screen, lifting dumbbells, in ice-cold sea, and with friends. I have also spent time chatting and calling with a girl I met last spring who is now studying abroad. But we did not want the same things, so it was in our best interest to put distance to our relationship. That was honestly the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Love can be ecstatic and agonizing at times.

Sad. Anyway, what are my thoughts on the courses and the programme as a whole so far? If my experiences of Leiden University and its bachelor programme can be assumed comparable enough, then I would say that the PEACE programme is somewhat blah. For one, all the courses lack—perhaps because of online format—meaningful social interaction like highly needed networking, sharing knowledge, and understanding worldviews of different nationalities and lived experiences. Or, the fault may lie in lack of pedagogical education for some educators as one of my friends reasoned.

Online format sucks now more than it did in my bachelor studies. Back then it was super great but now I am tired. Given that the online sessions are lectures and debates, it is important to speak up. But people do not initiate and participate in discussion online as much as I would wish (me included), interrupting feels super inorganic compared to face-to-face, and don't get me started about technical difficulties.

Continuing with my complaints, the programme has only one quantitative research course, which was one of the worst “statistics” courses I have ever taken. The course is a huge flop.

Lastly, from the three canceled courses for next semester, one would have been an absolute must course called Negotiation and mediation: Essential strategies and skill. Currently there is one identical course in Tampere for one month but its schedule conflicts with other courses I am taking. Perhaps next academic year is better.

Shortcomings notwithstanding, there is a lot of good in this programme too. Indeed, I have become aware of things that I would never have realized otherwise and I have learned quite a bit too. I think? I forget a lot too.

So far I have taken the following courses from the best to the absolute worst: Introduction to Peace and Conflict Research, Humanism and Peace Work, Power of Nonviolence, Psychology of Evil, Gender Equality, and Test Construction.

To synthesize all six courses respectively in one sentence, I would say that the most striking things I've learned is that killing a fellow human being face-to-face apparently does not come natural to a soldier without conditioning as evidenced by war case studies and clinical psychology; the real threat of several existential threats notwithstanding, when looking through the lens of humanism and data we are de facto progressing toward a better future; using asymmetric warfare, namely nonviolent methods are the best way for normal people to use against those who use violence like dictators; and moral disengagement is the biggest reason why normal people do evil things. I did not learn anything from Gender Equality, Media and Peace and Test Construction. Rubbish, absolute waste of time.

Next semester is going to be interesting. After Christmas I will spend time with a dude between 6 and 14 years old as part of a volunteering program by the Mannerheim league for child welfare. That ought to be interesting. I hope to find a suitable Master's thesis topic though I am currently gravitating toward Bitcoin as a nonviolent movement and method. I want to meditate daily again. I want to learn Estonian. I want to find a relevant internship in Finland or elsewhere. I want to keep learning guitar and sing songs.

In the sauna where I go twice a week with my Belgian-French friend, I was called a person who has its future ahead. She asked if I know where I want to be in the future. I don't know was and will be my answer. Predicting human behavior and predicting the future is an equation with myriad variables that is impossible to calculate. This applies even to my very own behavior. Every year is so unpredictably scary and anxiety-inducing yet predictably beautiful and exciting.

However, that does not mean I am aimlessly wandering or that I have no dreams. (Then again if I do not know which way to go, does it then matter what path I take?) I am where I need to be and doing things that I like. Besides, building a career is always a neverending exploration and self-discovery, so there is no specific end that I am after. Fundamentally people have a strong need to belong. In that sense, my dream is to find a group of people that do meaningful things especially toward people's wellbeing and flourishing—for example peace building. My French-Belgian friend said that my dream was awfully close to Nazis. Nein!

autumn colors

replot bridge #university #finland #peace

Pöö pöö hyvät ystävät. It has been a while. I graduated from Leiden University with bachelor degree in psychology. After summer it feels I have forgotten everything, though I do opine I have great academic literacy if nothing else. What a road. I thought I would become a psychologist, instead I am back in Finland studying peace, mediation, and conflict research (PEACE) in Åbo Akademi University? Peace studies are a multidisciplinary studies that aim to understand the causes of violence and war from many perspectives, including psychology.

Indeed, my experiences in the Netherlands made me think of other possible careers than just psychology. It would have been close-minded of me if I did not. I looked at social psychology, neuroscience, clinical psychology, human-technology interaction (HTI), user-experience design, cognitive science, health studies, and various research-focused programmes, and of course the PEACE programme. There were three things I especially looked at when weighing the programmes: curriculum content, zero tuition fee, and the most important idea that would ultimately affect my decision: If I did not have to worry about money, which career would I pursue? That way I can be sure that I am doing what I find meaningful, and not only to do it because of money. Although having enough money to sustain a decent lifestyle would be nice. No denying that.

Even though I had thirty credits worth of knowledge on neuroscience, I thought that neuroscience lacked interaction with people that I sought in my future career. I could not imagine myself studying brain cells in a windowless laboratory. But the knowledge is definitely not wasted. For example, during one the introductory courses we had to read the Seville Statement, and I learned that in the 1980s people apparently thought that there is something in the human brain that makes us biologically predisposed to violence. This is false, and this is exactly where neuroscience can prove it. In other words, I wield a “neuroscience bullshit detector”.

I applied in the first application round in winter. Second round would come later in spring. I applied to the PEACE and HTI programme. I got rejected to HTI and accepted to PEACE. When I received the rejection letter, I was not upset—I guess I was not interested in HTI then after all? Huh. In contrast, getting a letter from Åbo Akademi surprised me. Happy confusion. I then decided not to apply in the spring round to clinical psychology.

What drew me in PEACE programme was its developmental psychology-focused curriculum. It was something familiar but also something new—because this time it would be taught in a niche context: peace and war. The idea of working abroad for a good cause, peace, potentially mediating conflicts is compelling. Although, as sexy as that might sound, I might actually find myself as a low-paid grunt in the field, and later a paper pusher in a bureocratic system where nothing seems to move unless you are the one with the power and money. Anyway, I believe that even the smallest contributions to society can help us ensure a better future. If 'violence breeds violence', why cannot 'peace foster peace'? And another example is that if I smile to a person, then perhaps that person will become happier and subsequently smile to someone else. You see where I am going? Small contributions. Butterfly effect. Karma.

I do not know where PEACE will take me and it should cause anxiety in me, but I see this as an interesting turn of events. While it is not as I envisioned myself five years ago, or even one year ago, I am open to what future brings.

#PEACE #Finland

My three-year bachelor psychology studies are nearing an end. I feel that I have learned so much about psychology and science, friendship and love, cultures and countries, myself and others. Then again, I sense that I understand nothing and how much there is still to discover. I would say that the three years have taught me what life can be—that of what you want and make of it.


Imagine a Venn diagram of sunny weather, weekend, and summer vacation. A tiny intersection is all that is left. That tiny spot is where I should make the most of my summer vacation. But what should I do in those days?

I then saw the three circles crossing on the horizon. It was all coming together. I needed to act quick. And without hesitation, I seized the opportunity and decided to cycle around Åland.



Chronologically ordered.

peace studies

Reflections of a Peace Student on the Baltic Sea Region Forum 2023 Second Semester of Peace Studies First Semester of Peace Studies Peace, Mediation, and Conflict Research


Becoming the “Crypto Bro” and the Dystopian Future On Being Powerless About the Genocide in Gaza My Transition from Soldier to Advocate for Peace Bitcoin as a Nonviolent Tool Against State Financial Censorship Does Bitcoin Promote Human Rights? Analysis Grass Manifesto Suicides in Finland Are Decreasing Should Finland Ally with NATO or Remain Militarily Non-Aligned? How To Decide Your Career – Ten Lessons 3 Years of Personal Blogging – 5 Challenges I've Encountered On Consistency Do Express Sternly and Colorfully That You Despise Some Things The Value of Science by R. P. Feynman Schemas of Bitcoin Skeemoja Bitcoinista (Finnish) Why did George Floyd die? Quantity Mindset

stories from Holland

My Bachelor Thesis Reflecting on My Road to Bachelor in Psychology in Leiden and Beyond Banana is the King of the Fruits🍌 Wish I Had Learned Dutch Housing Guide for Students at Leiden University The Escape from Holland The Crimson-Red Couch Celebrating the Finnish Independence Day in Leiden Of Beggars The First Year is Wrapped Up Habits and Priorities An Update, plus Plans for Early 2019 The First Exams Are Over Eureka, Psychology! The Defier of the Wind Emperor The Weeks Preceding This Moment, a Review Things Clicked! My First Bitcoin Coffee House Hunting in the Netherlands Why I Started a Blog

stories from Finland

My Studies Have Ended in the Netherlands Bicycle trip to Åland – What I Learned Summer in Finland Accident Astray Experiences in the Netherlands in Retrospect

#cycling #Finland #introspection #travel #bitcoin #essay #coffee #Holland #experiences #househunting #meta #blogging #OWL #Leiden #Hague #psychology #introspection #summer #work #IndependenceDay #story #BlackLivesMatter #GeorgeFloyd #guide #language #bananas #university #PEACE #NATO

I thought I was going to write something during the summer about something. Of psychology, interesting experiences, thoughts. ...whatever really. I lacked motivation and my mind was busy elsewhere... This goes to show that thoughts and plans may not go as one would want. Especially when they are just that: just thoughts and incomplete plans. However, I wrote all my thoughts on my digital notebook, and now it is time to write again. Beginning, with summer.