Norman Aasma: “most of our lecturers are practitioners in their respective fields”
Norman is from Estonia. He decided to follow the path of many graduates of his high school who studied law and are now successful professionals working in different state institutions. His interest in law and international studies was accomplished at TalTech where he could learn about various specialisations and select courses of his choice.
Why did you decide to study law?
I studied at Tallinn English College for twelve years and many graduates of my school went to study law at different universities. We heard a lot of great stories about their achievements already during their university studies. Many of them are now successful attorneys-at-law or working at high positions at ministries. Their success stories motivated me to apply to study law at the university. Furthermore, our English teachers incorporated a legal language topic into English classes at the end of high school, which sparked my interest in law even further. When it comes to areas of law, then there are two fields of law that I like: corporate law and public international law.
Where did you first hear about TalTech?
My parents studied at Tallinn University of Technology, so I actually have known this university for quite a long time. When I started applying for university studies, I knew that I wanted to study in an international environment and preferably in English as I graduated from a school, which had an in-depth education in English language. It means that I was aiming for international law rather than focusing solely on a domestic law. Thus, I was looking for such opportunities both abroad and in Estonia. In the process of searching for suitable bachelor programmes, I found that TalTech was offering a study programme focusing on international law. I really liked the curriculum and possible prospects for the future. Without giving a second thought, I applied and today I can say with great confidence that I do not regret my decision.
Name three things that come in your mind when thinking of TalTech ?
TalTech has so much to offer that it is really hard to bring out only three, but I would say a large, modern and very student-friendly library with very nice and helpful people. Secondly, very open-minded and motivated co-students. Thirdly, TalTech has great lecturers, each of them with a background of its own kind.
How would you evaluate your studies so far?
I would say that our study programme has a great mixture of different courses, some of which lay a good foundation for understanding the real essence of law in its philosophical and theoretical sense. On the other hand, other courses are very practical for the future and are in my opinion a must for any future lawyer. Such courses are, for example, competition law, private international law, property law. The offered programme is not fully practical nor fully academic, but rather a well-compiled combination of both. There are many courses that I like. However, some of my favourite ones have been, for example, European Union law and private international law when it comes to compulsory courses. On the other hand, I would suggest to any law student currently studying at TalTech to also take non-contractual obligations, consumer law and international tax law. These courses are very practical for even everyday life, even if you do not want to practice law in the future. In addition, the non-contractual obligations course has have provided useful knowledge that I have also been able to apply in real life in professional work. The lecturers are also good. At least half of them have been with an international background, which has made their taught courses more interesting. Moreover, most of our lecturers are practitioners in their respective fields, thus they can apply their experience during the lectures and bring real-life examples while explaining different topics. This kind of teaching makes studying way more efficient.
What is your vision on the future of the EU Law and International Law?
EU law is becoming more important over time and it affects our lives directly. I think that in the future we will see an even closer relation between different domestic laws and international law, inter alia EU law. In order to be successful in domestic law, one will need to have a good knowledge of international law. Furthermore, technology law will also become more practical due to the increasing role of the digital world.
How do you see your career in future?
After graduating from TalTech, I want to continue in master’s studies. If everything goes by plan, I will start my master’s studies in the upcoming autumn in Norway. Currently, I do not have a very specific company or institution that I would like to work at. However, I wish to work in some European Union institution, but it would also be very interesting to work at an international law firm. I see my future career in the legal sphere abroad, but at some point, I would also like to come back to Estonia and apply acquired knowledge and experience here.
How is a student life in Tallinn?
Student life in Tallinn is as interesting as you make it for yourself. However, time management is very important, so that you have enough time for studies, as well as student life. I would say that my own student life has been quite active and very interesting, despite of COVID-19 restrictions, because we all adapted very fast to online opportunities.
I have been part of TalTech law student association MTÜ Õigus Juuratudengid as a director of business relations in the board, which has brought variety to pandemic time online studies and widened my network. Many of my coursemates were also board members, which certainly increased our interaction. Furthermore, I was part of TalTech chamber choir. The choir had amazing people and we had so much fun at different events. Additionally, since my very first day of law studies I have been part of European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) Estonia first as director for Student Trainee Exchange Programme (STEP) and currently as the Vice President for Academic Activities. ELSA has connected me with different law students from other Estonian universities, such as Tartu and Tallinn University as well as given a chance to organise and attend different events with law firms and other legal institutions. Prior to the pandemic, I used to attend actively the home games of TalTech basketball club, but currently, I am a bit busy and I follow the games via online live streaming. My hobbies are tennis and running.
How would you evaluate living in Estonia as a student?
Estonia is a small country and consequently one of the unique features is that everyone knows everyone. Furthermore, the weather here is quite of its kind. It might happen that it snows even in April. Estonia is a very developed IT country, which often makes life so much easier. As a native Estonian citizen, I can say that as a typical Estonian, I am also quite modest and quiet person doing my own thing 😊