Here is a quick guide for beginners who are studying in Estonia about what to do and how to make the most of your semester. Don’t worry, this is not another touristic what-to-do-checklist. You’ll be finding good details that most of the students miss during their study abroad experience. Take a cup of coffee and read thru for the best semester ever.
You can make a touristic start by visiting Toompea for a fabulous selfie. Because, the Old Town of Tallinn is literally amazing due to its well protected architecture. It was beautiful and important city in the history, as well. Thus, the Swedish established city of Helsinki as the rival. Walking in the streets will take you back to the medieval atmosphere. So, go ahead and check-in on social media, let the world know that you were in one of the best old towns of the world!
The Estonian are pretty serious about that. For example, in 2007, e-voting system at national elections was held for the first time in the world by Estonia. They currently export the knowledge and technologies of e-governance services. ICT sector creates 15% of Estonian GDP. Moreover, the government aims to secure this situation by adding programming course to elementary school curriculum. Finally, let me clarify a cliché: Skype was invented by two engineers from Tartu and the founders were Danish and Swedish. Nevertheless, even this example is enough to demonstrate their IT skills.
That is the most famous and peaceful pro-independence demonstration of The Singing Revolution. This remarkable event also shows the singing traditions of the Estonian. They have one of the biggest collections of folk songs in the world, almost 133,000 songs! Hence, we definitely suggest to attend of the song and dance festivals and experience this unique event. Moreover, Eurovision Song Contest has a big importance for the Estonian. They love it indeed. So, you can watch Eesti Laul final at the studio of ERR television on March 5th and see how exciting it is. I am sure that they will pick a nice song again for the contest in Stockholm!
Rye bread is common among the northern European countries. However the Estonian version is dark, dense and flavorful, which makes it special. It is a part of the culture, as well. There are a few believes and customs related to this tasty food. For instance, if a bread or a piece of it falls on the ground, you need to pick it up and kiss in order to show respect to the gift of nature. This is an interesting one: you shouldn’t put the bread on its back on the table, as it is the sign of the death of a family member.
A few meals would be enough to realize this fact. Actually, potato is very common for the northern cuisines but it is also a traditional food here. That’s why, it is sometimes called as “second bread”. Furthermore, people of the Baltic countries make jokes about potatoes to mock each other. And, those are generally absurd and black humorous jokes. Ask a local friend to tell you a few of them. You’re going to be entertained a lot!
No, they’re neither workaholic nor alcoholic. Okay, they drink hard but not that much! In my opinion, the main reason is that the prices are lower than surrounding countries. So, people visit Tallinn for cheaper booze. Well, that could be considered as a good thing, actually. You can taste delicious Vana Tallinn liquor as much as you like. It is also good idea for a gift to bring home. Terviseks!
The Estonian have a wide range of candy varieties. Birch and candy words sounds unfamiliar together, don’t they? Try the birch candy, so called “Kaseke”. You’ll be surprised! Also, the dairy products are very popular. Keefir, yogurt and every single kind of cheese is available. We definitely recommend to try “kohuke” candy. It is made of cheese, sugar and butter yet tastes like heaven! You might fall in love immediately.
This isn’t because of they don’t want to communicate with strangers but they value personal area and private life more than anybody. They’re respectful rahter than cold. There is no need to feel like you’ll ever have close friends. Try to make international friends at the beginning. We’re pretty sure that you’ll have great and solid friendships with locals.
Student Week of Tartu, absolutely! Tartu is famous for being the intellectual hub of Estonia, thanks to the active life around Tartu University. The historical and well known university attracts thousands of young people every year and ensures the student friendly atmosphere. The student week is held in May every year with collaboration of students and locals. Concerts, exhibitions, events and contests are held every day to celebrate that special week. It is definitely worth visiting, since Tartu is only two hours of ride away from Tallinn. Also, being in a place where the life revolves around students is really an unique experience.
Because, the islands, bogs and lakes are breathtakingly beautiful! Try to visit quiet and beautiful bogs all around Estonia. You can simply go for a walk in a forest. Expensive gear or shoes are not mandatory to enjoy trekking on a lovely pathway. Also, you can wear warm clothes and take a fishing rod, then go fishing on a frozen lake in the winter! Moreover, the summer season is also very enjoyable for a student. The midsummer celebration (Jaanipäev) is a national holiday in Estonia. And people generally go to countryside, chat and have picnic in the nature. You might ask to a local friend to join their celebration. They would be excited to have a foreigner friend to show their traditions.