Approximately one year ago I decided to study one semester abroad in Tallinn. Back in that time I nearly had no idea about the country Estonia. I just was sure that I like the Scandinavian countries, their climate and beautiful landscapes. Due to the location I imagined Estonia to be a similar country. And I have never travelled that much so I was willing to explore some more parts of Europe. And Estonia is a country where not much people consider to spend their holidays.
With this slight impulse I started to get to know more things about this country. Therefore I searched in the internet for some information about Tallinn and the country. I really liked what I read. The Old Town seemed to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The more information I got I have begun to like Tallinn and Estonia. Especially the tradition of the Song Festival. Some time ago I have seen a report about a funny, extraordinary race where men carry their women on the back. It takes place in Finland but many Estonians are also attending it. And since I am using Skype for a long time I once got told that it was invented in Estonia.
By gathering some more information about Estonia in the internet I have found some other facts which I think are very forward-looking: for example that the government is using the internet and modern systems for several purposes. Additionally I have informed myself about the BFM at Tallinn University and the information I got amongst the internet on different websites and blogs from earlier students convinced me that Tallinn would be just the perfect place to do my semester abroad. Additionally I much liked the fact that Tallinn verges to the sea.
All these facts combined let me to my decision to study in Estonia. But I was not aware of how much more this country or the city Tallinn is.
As I have arrived at the airport in Tallinn I did my first taxi ride to my hostel and the view almost felt like a nice part in Germany. I have expected a big cultural and outward difference but all felt kind of familiar. Except the fact that the taxi ride was much cheaper than in Germany.
At the first few days before university I started to explored the city. I have seen a lot of nice, old and artificial buildings nice spots and green places.
The weather on that days felt bit colder and harsher than in Germany. But I liked it when it is kind of windy and rough weather outside and you come home to a cozy and warm place. Recapitulatory my first impressions of Tallinn were not that extraordinary and different to Germany than I have expected them to be. But I was positively surprised how well I arrived in Tallinn and how positive my first impressions were.
After university has started we got some Introduction about Estonia and Tallinn. I learned a lot more about the culture, history and traditions. In my opinion they have an inspirational history and I never had the feeling that I could like the history of a nation before. Even in the hard times they stood together through their old traditions. The citizens of Tallinn and Estonia reached so much through singing together and not using any violence. To my mind this is an exemplary behaviour and good role model for other communities. Furthermore I got aware of the fact that nearly all Estonians are thinking of their history a similar way I did when I first heard about it. They are very proud of their country and often talk about history.
In the first days at Tallinn I have noticed a huge different in the behaviour of the Estonian people to the ones in Germany. I have always smiled to strangers but they mostly never smiled back to me. I was not sure if I just met some grumpy people but it was a bit strange to me. And there was more. The behaviour of the Estonians differs to what I was familiar to. They tend to be not very talkative and do not do unnecessary thing like having small talk or interacting when it is not required. One more noticeable thing for me is the fact that they are using their personal ID code for everything, even if you want to get a customer card at the supermarket. My German ID code is one of the most protected information about me. The Estonias just use theirs for everything since they really trust their government in most ways.
Just before I wrote this blog I took a trip around Estonia. I visited a lot of the other cities like Haapsalu, Pärnu, Tartu, Narva and some smaller ones. We were driving around by bus so I saw a lot of the beautiful landscape of Estonia. There are trees everywhere but there is also space with grass-grown soil or farming areas. Most of the time you can enjoy a very wide view of the landscape and the sight distance is not disrupted by many buildings or high mountains. The lack of elevation also surprised me. Although I heard about the flat scenery I have not imagined it that flat. But it is a fine diversification to my home town which is based in the Palatinate Forrest. At the trip I saw a lot of beaches which I neither have imagined to be that great nor looking this like a place for holiday. I really much enjoyed the trip and all the places I saw. To which I definitely will come back again
However I have to say that I am a little bit afraid of the winter months. For now I cannot imagine the weather to be that cold or without much sun hours. But I am looking forward to this new experience, too.
In summary I am really happy that I made the decision to study in Tallinn. I am impressed how fast it began to almost felt a bit like a new home. I can definitely say that this semester will not be the last time I spent in this beautiful country.