Meet LFC Student Berfin Osso: “I want to engage in the issues I am learning about”

We had a chat with Berfin Osso, a first-year Leadership for Change student, on a November afternoon in Tampere. Besides her interest in law and politics, Berfin’s passions are travelling and drawing cartoons and caricatures.

Please tell about yourself.

– My name is Berfin Osso. I’m from Turkey, from Istanbul – the largest city in Turkey. I was in law school and I was minoring in international relations. I was really interested in international issues, global inequalitites and world politics. This is how I ended up here as well. I graduated from Koç University in Istanbul, which is one of the private universities in Turkey. It’s quite a new university compared to public universities, but it is a prominent one.

What are your hobbies and personal interests?

– I have two passions in my life. One of them is drawing cartoons and caricatures. I have been drawing since the age of 11 and have published three comic books. I have a character called Bad Cat Cannibal – I started drawing with this character. Then I became involved in political and legal issues that are encountered in the world and so I started drawing serious cartoons like ones about Libya crisis, earthquake in Japan or political issues in Turkey. That’s also part of my interest in politics and law. My other passion is traveling. I really like traveling and getting to know other cultures. When I travel, I feel free and I really like the feeling of exploring new places and getting to know new people.

– I combined these two passions in a comic book that I created two years ago (find Berfin’s comic book online here). It was about my experience in India. We went to a social impact project to Dharavi region – we were conducting a few trips then. We were encountering how people lived there, how they were using hygiene and sanitary products. Also we were trying to promote water filters there with our partners in Dharavi region. It was really shocking to see the gap between the richest and the poorest areas in Mumbai, as we had been also in the richest regions with penthouses. But on the other side of those wealthy areas it was nothing like that. There were people living in really harsh conditions: six or seven people living in one room without toilets and everything. It was very shocking. So I narrated my story in India through the eyes of my character Bad Cat Cannibal so that it became like a mixture of traveling and cartoons, combining my two passions.

How did you come up with your character, Bad Cat Cannibal?

– That’s a good question! I love cats, it’s probably obvious. I was searching for a word. I knew that there was one energy drink with a face of this cat, so I somehow cut this piece and the font and glued it to one of my notebooks. Then I thought that I need a name… At that time I was really interested in English and was going through a dictionary. Then I spotted the word cannibal and thought that it sounded interesting. And when you read the character’s name, it is kind of in rhyme: Bad Cat Cannibal. That’s how I came up with the name when I was 11 years old! The character is an always evolving character, it is open to new things all the time. At the beginning he was fighting with dogs and living in hard conditions. In the first book I told about his survival, how he got a better position. I know that some good things may bring good things in the future. If you invest now, it will bring something good in the future – I believe so.

Back to the study-related questions: how did you find out about the Master’s Programme in Leadership for Change?

– I actually found this programme by a coincidence. I was informed by a website from a doctoral student who I met at my university at an international conference. She told me that there is a website called “mladi!nfo”. I was going through this website all the time… And then I found this programme, read the content and realized it was just meant for me! It combines politics and other fields. I was really interested in politics, because I feel that law and politics are interrelated subjects.

The Master’s Degree Programme in Leadership for Change consists of three tracks. Which track did you choose and why?

– I chose Politics in Wider Europe because it is more or less related to my previous experience. I don’t have much theoretical background in the past. Here I am learning more about the theories and how to look into things from the perspective of these theories. It is really enlightening – I’m exploring new stuff that I hope will be really helpful in my future studies and my thesis, for example. It has been really enlightening.

Had you been to Finland before starting your LFC studies?

– It’s my first time, actually. It was a hard decision – it’s quite up in the north and it’s my first time living in a country other than mine for that long. The previous time was Czech Republic, but it was only for three months. It was a hard decision, but I really love being here. The people, the calmness, the nature… I really love it. It’s only a few steps from the forest and the lake where I live now. It’s really beautiful – I don’t care about the cold.

How would you describe studying in the University of Tampere?

– The University of Tampere is a really innovative university. I have seen quite a lot of new stuff that I haven’t seen before. You are considering making innovations like a 21st century university, combining those three fields, which is really hard to do. You are really thinking about this and want to make new things. Also the course curriculum is more learner-based, not teacher-based. It’s something really new for me, because before we just used to go to the class where the teacher talks. Yes, we did have some practical sessions as we were studying law as a major, but it wasn’t enough for me as I want to engage more in the issues I am learning about. That is how my system of learning works. We had some classes like social entrepreneurship and they were really attractive to me because I was engaging more in things. Here is like being at the nexus of my future university!

What are your favorite places and things to do in Tampere?

– I’m quite new here! I really like Näsijärvi, spending time by the lake, watching the sunset. It is really nice, can be epic. Also the forest – there are a lot of forests around. Hämeenkatu seems quite popular! Also I like Pyynikki and Pyynikki Tower, which is a nice place to observe the city. There’s also a rooftop bar ‘Moro’ in the Torni hotel. I was there for the first time a few days ago and it was really enjoyable. I like the cafe Kaffila near Keskustori (Central Square) and Kauppahalli (the Market Hall). It’s kind of a boutique cafe, not a part of a chain. It’s cozy and calm, has a good atmosphere, is all white inside… Very illuminating!

What would you wish to get from your studies?

– The reason why I pursue master’s degree is to continue in the academia. I would also like to work in a NGO think tank to combine both practice and theory, contributing from the science’s perspective and the practical perspective. That’s what I would like to get here: to learn more theory, have practical experience from an internship and build networks from all around the world, because University of Tampere is a really international university with an international outlook. I really want to develop myself and share my knowledge, learn from others and other people’s stories. Every person is unique and have so much to tell about their experiences.

Find out more about Berfin and her comics and caricatures here.

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