I took part in the FCP in 2004. It seems a long time ago, but I still have some friends from that time and some genuine experience of Finnish way of life that I can share with other people.
I was 23 then, with BA diploma in Journalism in my pocket and with journalistic ambitions in my mind. I was working as a freelancer for Latvian printed media, writing about various sociopolitical topics, e.g. corruption, societal integration, education policy. In other words, I largely worked in in-depth journalism which is by definition a time-consuming enterprise.
During the FCP, I worked on an article that intended to answer why Finland is the least corrupt country in the world. I interviewed politicians, businessmen, civic activists who reflected on how it is to live in the society which is so resistant to political and administrative corruption. My article was rather positively received in Latvia.
Along with that, I enjoyed meeting Finnish experts from different fields. In particular, I have vivid memories of one day spent in the Finnish Army. But, to tell you the truth, journalistic work is not the most important thing that comes in my mind, when I recollect the month I spent in the FCP. Instead, it is ongoing interaction with young journalists and limitless fun. In a nutshell, I came back to Latvia full with valuable knowledge, vivid memories, and new friends from all over the world.
Soon after, my professional life changed quite dramatically, and I left journalism. I started working in PR, which, of course, is a common carrier path to many journalists. I made a strict decision then and have never returned to journalism; although initially, I must admit, it was not easy to change the journalistic mindset to PR.
As I had also academic ambitions, I started my PhD studies in communication science. I studied in Latvia and Denmark and received my PhD in 2012. Thus, to some extent, I haven’t left journalism and media; I have just transformed form the one who creates the media content to the one who explores it.
Today I’m a full-time researcher at the University of Latvia. But I combine my academic job with political consultancy. This combination helps me avoid the feeling of living in academic ivory tower. At the same time, my academic background enables me to carry out expertise which I presumably wouldn’t be able to obtain beyond the academic field. And, most importantly in terms of this blog, my academic job provides me with opportunities to meet many excellent Finnish scholars whose accomplishments remind me that Finnish way of life is not just specific traditions, but also great respect to the role of knowledge in society.