Jaan Erik Branno: I always planned to return to Estonia
Jaan Erik Branno came from Sweden to study in Estonia in 2021 with a scholarship for compatriots and took up public administration and political science at TalTech.
Where do you come from and what is your previous connection to Estonia?
I was born in Estonia and lived here until I was six. In 2008, I moved to England with my family and lived there for a year. When I returned from England I was very happy I was able to come back home and continue studying in the Nõmme district in Tallinn. I attended the Nõmme Upper Secondary School for two years and in 2011, I moved to Gothenburg, Sweden with my family. I lived in Gothenburg for 10 years in total but I visited my relatives in Estonia during every school holiday. In 2020, I decided it was time to make it on my own and return to my homeland. In 2016 and 2017, I attended the Üleilmakool online to refresh and develop my Estonian skills, because I always planned to move back here and continue my studies in Estonia.
Why did you decide to come and study in Estonia of all places?
After I graduated from the Hvitfeldska Upper Secondary School in Gothenburg and received the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma with a focus on science subjects, I decided my next logical step would be to return to my homeland and serve in the military. I served in the Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion for 11 months and by the end of it I had the status of a conscript reserve officer candidate. I also received a decoration from the Kuperjanov Battalion for exemplary service and the rank of an ensign from the president of Estonia. During my military service, I was able to improve my Estonian skills and prepare for entry exams at the Tallinn University of Technology. Estonian-language higher education is free in Estonia and it would be strange not to take advantage of this opportunity. In the spring of 2021, I was accepted as a full-time student at the University of Technology based on my successful Estonian language exam and IB diploma.
What has surprised you the most about living in Estonia?
It is surprisingly easy to adapt to Estonian-language higher education and to how it is organised, even after living away from Estonia for ten years.
What is your favourite place in Estonia?
The TalTech Mektory building has become a favourite place for me because this is where you can find cool ideas and even cooler people. A very inspiring environment.
Photo: Jaan Erik Branno at the office of AI&Robotics Estonia where he contributes to make sure the ecosystem of Estonian AI develops rapidly and in the right direction(image credit: personal collection).
Interview by Marilyn Fridolin, Senior programme officer at the Scholarships and grants office of the Education and Youth Board.