I didn’t plan much ahead. I think I knew nothing about Estonia three months before I arrived. Nothing but its name, and that it’s very far and cold and where supermodels live. How is it possible to adapt so quickly to a completely new culture? I am not satisfied with my Estonian language abilities so far, but I was proud of myself when my Estonian friend told me he was impressed by how I pronounce the names of streets correctly. It’s a good start!
Estonian is hard to learn! Yes! I haven’t needed to use it so far though, other than the daily “Tere” to neighbours and shopkeepers. “Palun”, “Vabandust” and “Aitäh” are my other favourite words too. Like everywhere in the world, people here are excited when you use their language. It sounds so soft and musical. It didn’t take me long to differentiate between Estonian and widely spoken Russian when hearing it on the street.
I’m still rendered speechless every time I discover that I’m in the city, yet 10 minutes away from nature. The air is clean, and the soundscape is definitely calmer than Cairo, Mumbai and Berlin, where I stayed before. I can’t remember ever living somewhere where I had free public transport, and it’s an everyday treat with the cute little tram wagons roaming the streets of the city that won’t take you so long to figure out your ways through.
Ahmed Fouad Ragab
I do my grocery shopping weekly. Supermarkets are fun here, but not for me! There are too many options, and I want to try everything, so every time is a struggle. I remember when I bought my first loaf of Estonian famous black bread, thinking it was a chocolate cake. It is now my favourite bread. I enjoy cooking here! Well, at least when I have the time.
My school schedule is packed, but the homework and study load is relatively light. Every day, I congratulate myself on making such a great decision of attending the university orientation week! As an AV media student, I get to spend most of my time at Nova building, which is the coolest building at Tallinn University. Sometimes I even decide to spend the whole day there, finishing my homework and hanging out with friends.
Anyone can be themselves in this city. Everybody finds their own crowd. It’s been only one month, and I have so much already on my mind. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned shortly after I’ve arrived here is that everyone’s Estonia is different and unique. Everyone’s experience here is different, and you won’t ever know until you’re here. True that I did extensive internet research on all aspects of life and study here, and to most of it I can relate. However, every day is literally a new adventure where I learn more about this place, its people, and my own self, whilst trying to answer the question “Why am I here?”