My Time in Eestii
In the spring of 2014 I made the big decision to step out of my academic concentration to learn about Entrepreneurship. Of course, one of the Global Classroom Series going abroad for Spring Break was my class. Our destination was to a country that not many people know of– Estonia, or in other words is Eestii. I was under the impression that Estonia was a little country located in the middle of nowhere. Regardless, I was up for the challenge to step out of my comfort zone and grasp the global experience. After all, I believe traveling is something that everyone should take advantage of throughout their college years.
Prior to departure I did some research on Estonia and learned that it is a small sovereign state located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Its neighboring countries include Finland, Latvia and Russia. In addition, Estonia is a member of the European Union and is one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world. Because Estonians have been influenced by Finnish culture their language consists of Finnish-Ugric words. Today, the country continues to flourish in technological advancements and is also known as E-stonia.
Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, is located near the Baltic Sea. Known as a hidden gem, Tallinn’s infrastructure shows a mix of the old and new city. Throughout our stay at Tallinn we attended lectures during the day with assistance from a staff of our host school, the University of Tartu. We were offered a tour of Old Town on our first day, a welcome and farewell dinner, and even met young scholars. At night, my friends and I wandered around the beautiful Old City, walking through cobblestone streets and hopping from one restaurant and lounge to another. I even tasted many of Estonia’s fine delicacies, from their endless shops of kohvik (coffee) to delectable pastries and sweets.
Every day of our stay there was beautiful weather and lots of adventure. The sun was constantly out so it made it easy to forget about the chilly weather. Every day, I felt wonderful inside and out. Frequent walks were the norm, and I believe this was something I brought back from my trip. In addition, Estonian women presented winter as a fashionable season. Everyone seemed so fit and active and it was rare to see overweight people.
Our openness to talk to residents even made me realize that prejudgments can also be misleading. Before the trip, I was concerned about the language and communicating with the residents. Of course, I was wrong. I was surprised once I started to communicate with residents because they spoke English so fluently.
With having a predominantly Caucasian ethnic background, my diversity was something out of the ordinary for Estonians to see. It’s rare to see colored people in Estonia, so to them it is something out of the norm. There’s a lot of things I have taken back with me as a being, from my experience in Estonia. My difference, pride, and openness were genuine reminders of my personality. The trip was something I would never forget, because it not only introduced me to a different culture, but also brought out things about myself I never knew I had.