All posts by Gästbloggare

Complete your university studies like no one else

How is it possible to graduate from a Master’s program in three years with 44 extra credits, while holding three jobs? And do this in a country where only a fifth of all university students reach the target time of five years? I will tell you.

Instagram @hannatuulonen, September 1st 2014: This is a new day and my first day at the uni, and I’m already thinking about my Bachelor’s thesis. #twoyearbachelor #icandothis

Almost three years has passed since I posted the picture above on Instagram. It was my first day at the University of Tampere, the day I started my journalism and communication studies in Finland. Already back then I knew I wanted to do something that I had heard only rumors of. I wanted to finish my university studies under the target time of five years.

Understandably, my goal was difficult to achieve and I faced a lot of questioning, especially since I had three jobs at the same time. My study advisors, teachers and fellow students were not used to someone like me. In Finland, students usually don’t graduate in the target time, not to speak about being quicker.

But that is exactly what I did.

Instagram @hannatuulonen, May 28th 2016: Two years ago, when I started my uni studies, I decided I’m gonna make it in two years. And so I did. Now it’s time for me to move on. With me I’m taking a Bachelor’s certificate. #twoyearbachelor #ididit

Instagram @hannatuulonen, August 29th 2016:  In autumn 2014 I posted a declaration that I was going finish my Bachelor’s degree within two years. Today, two years later, I’m at the doorstep of a new pursuit: Master’s degree in one year. #twoyearbachelor #oneyearmaster #thisisgu

Pulling of something like this is not an easy task. However, I had some benefits that made things easier.

One was the fact that I had completed all the basic courses at the open university before starting my actual university studies. At the time I didn’t realize how much of an advantage it was for me, yet during the first year I quickly realized its value as I was able to participate in second-year courses.

Another benefit was the Tampere university’s preeminent system of free minor studies. Basically, I could enroll myself on any course from any faculty and make it a part of my Bachelor’s studies. Thanks to this, I completed 224 study credits (ECTS) within two years instead of the 180 credits required within three years.

Thirdly, having a possibility to complete a Master’s thesis in Sweden in one year was an opportunity like any other.

Having these possibilities and benefits were only a small part of the whole picture, though. To be able to to do what I did a lot of work and planning is required. Here are some of my tips and tricks, something that took me several years of modifying. It required self-discipline as well as knowing my own strengths and weaknesses. Being organized is going to require the same things from you.

Besides studies, these rules can also be applied to a freelancer’s job.


I carry notebooks with me wherever I go. All four of them.

To me, notebooks are like folders: one notebook for one category of thoughts, or, in the case of university studies, one notebook per  course. As an average university student has four courses per period, I had eight to ten. Keeping track of all their deadlines and lectures in an organized way was a key to starting and completing all of them.

The important thing is not to have a notebook or several. The important thing is the purpose they serve: clearing the cache inside your head.

The human brain is amazing in how many things it can handle at the same time but what it is less good at is holding on to all those threads of thoughts. Trying to remember everything eats up a huge part of your energy and efficiency. Stressing about that you forgot something does the same thing. Getting ideas, thoughts, feelings and unfinished processes safely stored helps you keep focus on what you want.

Synchronized calendars

At the moment, my online calendar consists of six synchronized, color-coded calendars. Having different timetables synced helps me and others keep track of when and where we need to be or what needs to done by what deadline.

The calendars consist of two different kind of markings: time-bound events (e.g. meet an interviewee at 3pm) and day-bound events (e.g. buy flight tickets to Helsinki). Time-bound events are what dictate the daily schedules and day-bound events are the to-do list.

To-do lists are handy, but only if you make them right. Instead of having everything as one long overwhelming list of tasks, divide your tasks evenly throughout the week. Set a deadline and stick to it. A daily to-do list will help you prioritize and keep your mind on what’s important. Especially essay and exam deadlines.


One tool that planner freaks like me use is the spreadsheet. Especially long-term projects and courses that last for more than one period, it might be difficult to keep track of everything only with the help of a calendar. And this is where spreadsheets step in.

The picture below shows a spreadsheet in which I kept track of my courses and credits. Everything needed can be seen on one climbs. This would be impossible to comprehend and update only with the help of a calendar.

Take to notion that having a properly functioning spreadsheet needs constant updating. It might feel like a boring thing to do and you might think that you can do it later. Don’t. You’ll lose track of what you have already updated and checking up on things two months old eats up more of your time than giving two minutes a day to one simple update.

Common to all tools

Never delete or destroy anything. These tools are not meant only for keeping you on track right here and right now. They are also tools for you to check on what you have done and tools to help you get back to what you need to remember.

Sometimes getting started is the most difficult part. Instead of pondering whether you should do something or what you should do, just do it. It takes less time than wondering around. Trust me. And once you get to doing, keep going. No task, thought or event is too small to for these tools and rules. Write everything you need either in your notebooks (or what ever suits you best), calendar or spreadsheet.

Instagram @hannatuulonen, June 3rd 2017: ¡¡ Masters of Investigative Journalism !! Graduation day. You haven’t heard the last of us and we haven’t heard the last of each other. #perceftion #twoyearbachelor #oneyearmaster

A journalist’s job is not only a job. It’s a profession that doesn’t count hours. A freelance journalist cannot expect workdays to be 8 hours long because sometimes even 12 hours aren’t enough. I feel the same about studying. Now I realize that not everyone is like me. Not everyone has the same desire and passion for studying that I do, and thus these tools and rules don’t work for everyone. That’s okay. I don’t expect the same things from others that I expect from myself.

Yet I feel that it is important for me to show that university studies don’t have to be dragged out necessities that throughout the years evolve from something manageable to something tedious. When only 10 to 20 percent of all university students in Finland are able to grduate in the target time of five years, I can’t help but think that there’s a problem – in the university system, society or the students themselves. Which one are you going to change?

Hanna Tuulonen

The writer started her university studies in 2014, graduated as Bachelor of Social Science in 2016 from the University of Tampere in Finland and as Master of Social Science in 2017 from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Currently she works as an editor-in-chief and as a translator. Find her portfolio and work samples at Göteborgin Sivukonttori and at Varusmies-lehti.

NPA hjälper unga journalister att nätverka i Norden

“Jag är en bättre journalist nu.”

Så här beskrev en av deltagarna sina känslor efter Nordic Press Associations (NPA) seminar i Oslo i slutet av april. Och det var just det vi som grundade NPA hade hoppats på: att hjälpa unga nordiska journalister att nätverka och bli bättre journalister.

NPA grundades i början av 2016 för att vi, en grupp unga journalister från Finland, Sverige, Danmark och Norge, kände att det inte finns tillräckliga möjligheter för unga nordiska journalister att mötas och samarbeta.

I en workshop lärde vi oss hur man kan utnyttja olika online sökning verktyg. Bild: Oona Lohilahti/NPA

Våra länder är så lika men ändå vet vi så lite om varandra. Vi alla håller en topplats i pressfrihetsindexet men varje land har sin egen kamp med till exempel fake news media eller frågan om hur etermedia ska finansieras.

En av de bästa sakerna man kan lära sig av NPA och våra seminarier är att det också finns ganska stora och nästan roliga skillnader mellan de Nordiska länderna. Skillnaderna handlar till exempel om arbetskultur, journalistutbildning och satsningar på regionala medier.

Det viktigaste är att hjälpa unga journalister att göra sin röster hörda

Med NPA vill vi komplettera journalistutbildningarna som inte alltid erbjuder möjligheter  att nätverka utomlands och lära sig samarbeta med andra unga journalister från de Nordiska länderna.  

“Jag har lärt mig mer av dessa seminariedagar än  vid universitetet”, sade en deltagare i Oslo.

Men det viktigaste är att hjälpa unga journalister att göra sin röster hörda. Vi vet att det kan vara en kamp att få sin första artikel publicerad och i NPAs seminarier  får deltagarna  stöd av redaktörer och andra gruppmedlemmar.

Journalister i alla nordiska länder kommer från liknande bakgrunder. I NPAs seminarier erbjuder vi också unga journalister, som inte har studerat journalistik eller pratar nordiska språk som modersmål, en möjlighet att få göra sin röst hörd, kanske för första gången. NPA har ännu inga egna kanaler för att publicera historier men vi försöker sporra och hjälpa deltagare att sälja sina historier.

Unga journalister jobbade i grupper och lärde sig samarbeta med människor från andra länder. Bild: Oona Lohilahti/NPA

Grupparbete och workshopar

När NPA anordnade seminariedagar i Köpenhamn förra året var syftet att prova nya sätt att göra journalistik på och därmed öka representationen av unga i i media. Deltagarna producerade om olika teman: en grupp intervjuade unga som tillhör olika sexuella minoriteter, en grupp frågade köpenhamnsborna om veganism och en tredje grupp gjorde en Facebook-video om hur nedskärningar av studiebidragen påverkar studenters psykiska hälsa.

I Oslo producerade deltagarna journalistiska artiklar, videos och podcasts om yttrandefrihet och mänskliga rättigheter.  En grupp gjorde en 360 video av en romsk mans vardag och en annan grupp producerade en podcast om övervakningen i nordiska länder. En grupp som bestod av skrivande journalister bestämde sig för att lära sig nya teknikeroch gjorde en kort video också om övervakningen. Grupparbetet  varvades med föreläsningar och workshops, olika lekar och gemensamma middagar.

Mellan arbetande fanns också tid för skoj. Här förbereder sig en grupp att sjunga Abba. Bild: Oona Lohilahti/NPA

Det finns ett behov av samarbete

Efter två seminarier kan man verkligen säga att det finns ett behov av samarbete mellan unga nordiska journalister. Det är synd att vi vet så lite om varandra och hur lite våra medier skriver om andra nordiska länder. Alla vet om norska TV-serien Skam, men vem kan nämna Norges statsminister? Det har varit underbart att se hur ivrigt deltagare pratar om sina länder och jämför dess politiska system.

Vi har blivit överraskade av hur ambitiösa unga journalister är och hur mycket de uppskattar möjligheten att samarbeta. NPA har redan hjälpt unga nordiska journalister att skaffa nya kontakter och förstå andra nordiska länder. Vi hoppas att NPA kan bidra till bättre nordisk journalistik.

Anna Takala och Oona Lohilahti

Anna Takala och Oona Lohilahti är båda aktiva i Nordic Press Association (NPA) och varit med i att anordna seminariedagar i Köpenhamn och Oslo. Lohilahti studerar journalistik vid Tammerfors universitet och Takala kommunikation vid Helsingfors universitet i Finland.

Jonathan, CC-BY-NC-SA

Utbytesstudier i Foreign Reporting i Helsingfors

Svenska social- och kommunalhögskolan vid Helsingfors universitet erbjuder en kursmodul på temat Foreign Reporting för utbytesstuderande hösten 2017.

Modulen är till för studerande med inriktning på journalistik eller kommunikation, och passar fint för den som är intresserad av internationella frågor, mångfald, och de möjligheter och utmaningar som journalistiskt arbete utanför det egna landets gränser medför. Den är öppen för studerande från hela världen, och går på engelska.

I modulen ingår både praktiska och mer teoretiska kursbitar, samt en reportageresa till Baltikum. Modulen består av tre huvudkurser på totalt 15 sp (Foreign Reporting in Practice; Media Landscapes and Journalism in Transition; Ethnicity and the Challenge of Diversity in Journalism and Media), och i tillägg kan den som vill ta kurser om bl.a. kris- och datajournalistik upp till totalt 30 sp.

Som föreläsare i kurserna ingår både erfarna utrikeskorrespondenter och forskare inom journalistik. Föreläsningar varvas med individuell handledning av övningsarbeten.

En mera detaljerad kursbeskrivning finns här: Studerande kan ansöka om finansiering för sin utbytesperiod från Nordplus studentmobilitetsfinansiering.

Kurshelheten är ett ypperligt tillfälle att skapa nya erfarenheter tillsammans med studerande från hela världen i vackra Helsingfors. Utbildningen på Svenska social- och kommunalhögskolan (Soc & Kom) är den enda svenskspråkiga för journalister i Finland. Den forskning som görs på enheten handlar bland annat om datajournalistik (computational journalism) och genusfrågor inom journalistik.

Klas Backholm

Klas Backholm arbetar som biträdande professor på journalistutbildningen vid Social- och kommunalhögskolan (Soc & Kom) vid Helsingfors universitet.

I found the passion for my work in DMJX

When I think back to the semester I spent as an exchange student in Denmark, I now realize how much it changed me and my career. Stepping out of my everyday life in Finland helped me find my passion as a photojournalist.

In autumn 2015 I spent four months in Aarhus Denmark studying photojournalism in Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX). In November 2016 I was awarded in prestigious CPOY for several of my short documentaries – and I have DMJX to thank for that.

I was encouraged to find my own style

I had studied photojournalism in the University of Tampere for four years and had worked as a visual journalist in newspapers for couple of years before I left for Denmark. Despite the years of studies and work I still felt I hadn’t found the right path for me yet. I was constantly questioning my skills and passion for my work.

Moving to a new country and getting to know new people provoked new ideas of what I could do with my career. In DMJX I was surrounded by great teachers and skillful colleagues from around the world – and just getting to know them, I was introduced to so many different ways of being a visual journalist.

One crucial thing in finding one’s love for their work is getting the support they need from people around them.

In DMJX the teachers emphasized that they wanted us to find our own style as photojournalists: whether it was fast-paced news photography or long term personal projects, film or digital photography, still images or video.

This was the key for me to realize that no matter what my style was, the most important thing was that I would do my work with passion. No journalism is ever good if it’s not done with great care and inspiration for the subject.

Me and my classmates on our graduation day in DMJX.

Me and my classmates on our graduation day in DMJX.

Workshops with international professionals

In DMJX I began to look back at my work experience in newspapers and I realized that daily news work really wasn’t what I wanted to do as a journalist. Then I started to ask myself: Was it worth doing work that I didn’t feel passionate about? What would I do If I listened to my heart?

In DMJX the photojournalism studies consist of several workshops with different areas of photojournalism. The teaching is in English so there’s no language barrier to keep you from learning everything you want.

For me the crucial workshop in finding the passion for my work was the video workshop with Bombay Flying Club. During the workshop we produced web documentaries about the refugee crisis in Denmark. I spent over a week living in the house of a Syrian-Iraqi refugee family documenting their life and struggle with the Danish immigration policies.

Being able to spend all that time with my subject and really getting to know their story was something I had never experienced working as a news photographer. During that week I felt such a love for my work that I had never felt before.

I felt like I was doing something meaningful and I was good at it.


I documented the life of Abdulhamid family in Denmark. The picture is from the short documentary 'Everything For Family' which tells how the family is torn apart by Danish immigration policies.

I documented the life of Abdulhamid family in Denmark. The picture is from the short documentary ‘Everything For Family’ which tells how the family is torn apart by Danish immigration policies.

Following your passion pays off

After I returned to Finland one year ago I continued to follow my passion: I started producing short documentaries for Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. During this year three of my documentaries have been broadcasted.

A couple of weeks ago I also received amazing news: three of my short documentaries were granted with an award in College Photographer of the Year (CPOY) -competition. The awards gave me confidence that I’ve taken steps on the right path when following my passion for documentary filmmaking.

Of course I still feel insecure at times and have doubts about my work. However, the past year I’ve felt more confident and happy with my work than ever before. In DMJX I learned that if I continue to follow my heart, it eventually takes me a lot further than any rationally made career plans.

Otto, 67, sits in his kitchen at Hipposkylä, Finland. Otto is one of the main characters in the documentary 'Alone together' which won the Award of Excellence in CPOY 2016.

Otto, 67, sits in his kitchen at Hipposkylä, Finland. Otto is one of the main characters in the documentary ‘Alone together’ which won the Award of Excellence in CPOY 2016.

Riina Rinne

The author studied in DMJX ’s half-year-long Photo I -program in 2015, funded by the Nordplus program. Now she is finishing her Master’s studies in visual journalism at the University of Tampere in Finland. You can find Riina Rinne’s work on her website and in YLE Areena.