Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
It’s been almost four full years since Class of 2015 alum Liisa Toomus graduated from THINK Global School, and it’s clear the curiosity for new cultures she nurtured during her time here has only continued to grow. From attending uni in England to studying Spanish in Mexico to embarking on new job opportunities in Madrid, here’s a look at the continually evolving life of Liisa T.
Hi Liisa, can you tell us what you’ve been up to since graduating in 2015?
It’s been a full schedule. Right now, I’m doing a one-year internship as Administrative Assistant at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Madrid (la Cámara de Comercio Hispano-Sueca), where, so far, I have tried a bit of everything; from working with marketing to export. What I enjoy the most is learning to communicate professionally and formally in Spanish.
To get to where I am now, I spent three years doing my bachelor degree in International Relations at the University of Nottingham. The summer before I graduated from university, I devoted four months to nothing else but taking intensive Spanish courses in Mexico in order to become completely fluent in the language. Because one of my classmates in TGS really opened up my eyes to Mexican politics, I wanted to dedicate the majority of my last university year to my dissertation project, which investigated the staggering effects the U.S-Mexican 2007 Mérida Initiative had on human rights inside of Mexico in relation to the drug war.
What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on since graduation?
My favorite project must have been the magazine column I was the head writer for, called ‘Numinous Travels’ at World Student Magazine. It began when I was still a student at TGS, after I was featured a few times in the Huffington Post (now known as the HuffPost) reflecting about our travels. We reached up to 20,000-30,000 followers internationally before the magazine stopped being distributed after two years. The consistency of writing and being able to share my reflections and thoughts so broadly was challenging and fun, and I would love to be involved in something similar again.
Do you feel your experiences at THINK Global School prepared you for life post-graduation? If so, how?
I’ve always been very self-motivated and independent, but TGS is obviously full of new experiences, and it would be impossible to leave without maturing and taking away a lot of knowledge from that. Sometimes when I talk about diving into new adventures abroad, people my age exclaim that they would be far too scared to pursue anything alike. I believe that “fortune favors the bold,” and TGS has provided me a lot of skin on my nose to pursue large-scale projects and to think outside of the box – especially to work against the construct of what a 22-year-old must have accomplished by now: I hope to achieve things far beyond that and people senior to me.
It’s been three years since you graduated. Where do you see yourself three years from now?
Tricky question – life never swings the way I predict it to, so who knows! Despite being in an environment of international export, it has occurred to me that my interest in foreign policy and human rights is profound and perhaps not something I’m ready to stop aiming to work with professionally. During my time in Madrid, I have attended events hosted by Allen & Overy, Google, the Swedish Embassy and the Secretaría General Iberoamericana, all revolving around foreign policy, human rights or questions about equality, which really have reignited my interest. So, right now, I hope to return to my original interest with the skills and knowledge I hope to have acquired after one year at the Chamber. For now, I feel ready to be in a working environment, at least for another year or two, and to gain a greater understanding of who I am professionally. Then, hopefully I’ll indulge in that passion even more by pursuing a master’s degree in the right field.
Any tips for our recent graduates or current students?
To enjoy the moment and figure themselves out. I think for someone finishing high school, TGS graduates might have more diverse and applicable life experience than most adults, but it can also be very tiring at times. That deserves a pat on the shoulder. For current students, it’s to really enjoy and fully experience every city they live in: read national literature, take photos, write in your journal, small talk to locals and scout out every secret coffee shop gem in town.
Looking back, what TGS experience has stayed with you the most?
There are plenty of meaningful moments with friends/classmates and staff on our travels that have shaped me and which I miss a lot. I loved visiting Srinagar, Kashmir, in 2013 and spending an entire week meeting local people who explained how the India/Pakistan conflict affects the wellbeing and safety of their everyday life. Also, it was extraordinary to learn about how the battle for territory even blossomed in 1947, to begin with. And to be honest and frankly nerdy, I actually miss analyzing literature by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Arundhati Roy in English class with my former English teacher Breanna Reynolds –- she always encouraged my passion for reading and writing, and I recently even attended her wedding! Perhaps the strong bonds you form, and how the eyes of students and staff sparkle with passion and excitement might be what I miss the most. I was fortunate to be around like-minded souls during my time at the school.