SERAJ doctoral candidate, Tarryn Bannister, reflects on research stay in Åbo/Turku, Finland


Turku Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and the country’s national shrine.

In August of this year, I was awarded a full research scholarship by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which provided me with the invaluable opportunity of undertaking an eight-week research stay from the 7th of October until the 30th of November 2014, at the Finnish Institute for Human Rights.

The Institute is located at the Åbo Akademi University in Åbo/Turku, Finland, opposite the picturesque Turku cathedral. The peaceful working environment of the institute provided me with the ideal opportunity to undertake serious research work, while making significant progress in my doctoral study. My stay also afforded me the opportunity to engage with members of staff employed at the Institute, while providing me with unrestricted access to a working space, a computer, internet services, as well as access to other essential research facilities.


A Helsinki snowman

The Institute’s library, which contains a wealth of literature on, amongst other topics, human rights and public international law, was particularly valuable during my research stay. The Institute also hosts international academics and post-graduate researchers alike, which provided me with the opportunity to meet other individuals from around the world who are involved in the field of human rights. In addition to this, individuals are able to present their research in the “Friday sessions” held occasionally at the Institute on Friday mornings. This provided me with the opportunity to receive valuable comments and feedback regarding my doctoral study, which I presented on. I am therefore indebted to the individuals at the Institute, and in particular, master’s student Ines Denzler, who made my stay a memorable one.

I am incredibly grateful for having the wonderful opportunity to live in Finland for two months, as it allowed me to explore many delightful aspects of both Finnish and Swedish culture. In fact, one of the highlights of my trip, which I will never forget was partaking in ice swimming with members of the Institute. I was also able to enjoy the traditional Christmas drink, “Glogg” during a snowy day, as well as wonderful Finnish food, such as the korvapuusti (a kind of cinnamon roll). My research stay at the Institute was therefore a truly enriching experience and one that I will never forget.

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