Archiv des Autors: Malin

Customs

31. 03.2019

The probably first thing I noticed in Estonia, were the different eating habits:

Growing up I was always told to wait until everyone at the table has food on their plate and only then I can start to eat. While this is a “rule” that applies to (probably) everywhere in Germany, in Estonia it depends on the family and is in my (host)family only used with more formal guests.

In Germany it is quite common to eat with knife in fork, even when you could also eat only using a fork (e.g. pasta, salad). Here (in Estonia) we only knives to eat, when needed. Again: this only applies to the everyday life meals and not when we have guests.

 

Some notes to the food as well: Due to its boreal climate traditionally there is not in every time of the year fresh food to be had. The traditional Estonian dishes include therefore ingredients that are non-perishable such as gherkins, potatoes and meat.

 

 

I live with my (host)family in the country side of Estonia and I think there are some habits and customs connected to that as well:

Our door is almost never locked. Only when all family members leave the house for a longer time and at night the door is locked.

People come and go whenever they want, normally without prior notice. If they do, then just a few minutes in advance. We have quite often people – usually neighbours – at our place. At least just as often we go to the neighbours’ place (the ones who also have an exchange student). When people visit each other in Estonia the visitors always bring something along, usually food, sometimes also flowers or other useful things.

 

It is also normal to go to sauna in Estonia. Ours is not completed yet, so we use the neighbours’ sauna. For that I already go to their place thrice a week. When it was colder we also made snow angels and went into an ice hole in the pond. When the ice melts we will just bath in the water.

Malin

New Year

12. 04. 2019

I know it has been some time since I have written, I will try to catch up a bit today.

Since the last post was about Christmas, I am going to talk about New Years Eve in this one. Like in most countries the end of one year and the beginning of a new one is celebrated on the 31st December and the 1st January. Some friends visited us at New Years Eve and we ate potatoes with (jellied) meat and sauerkraut which is also the traditional dish for Christmas Eve.

At midnight we went to Tartu to watch the fireworks and the adults clinked glasses with sparkling wine.

It is said to be good luck, if a man enters the house first after the turn of the year, but most Estonians do not believe in it anymore.

Another tradition is to leave some food on the table for ghosts and other people who passed away.

Happy new year (in Estonia you do not say that to anyone after the 6th of January)!

Malin

School (update)

12. 04. 2019

Since it snowed and was cold enough, our physical education lessons changed: We now have to ski, ice skate and go sledging during the lessons. As I mentioned before our school has a large area and now we are able to ski laps up to five kilometres long. On our basketball field is now ice, where our ice skating lessons take place. Sometimes we even go sledging during our lessons

By now I understand much more and I am able to participate at Physics, Estonian and sometimes even Literature. Some teachers (and students) started talking to me, when they noticed that I understand Estonian (I think many people are simply afraid to speak in a foreign language). And the people are still as friendly as they have been in the beginning.

Malin

 

Getting a routine

05. 01. 2019

When I arrived in Estonia, I first focused on the new things: the people, the language and the culture. What I did not think about that much (mainly because there were much more important things) was what I should continue doing.

Many people – i think – have problems with building themselves a routine when they first go away from their biological parents. Or perhaps it was just the fact that there are so many other things that change that a routine does not fit in at first.

The more often you repeat things, the easier they get. Many things just take time: The longer you go to school the easier it is for you to memorize the time table; when you know the time table you can take the right material with you and you know for what subject you need to do your homework (At the moment I have so few things to take to school that I have all the material in my bag all the time, but that should not be the case forever). I also think it is easier to become used to everything and to settle in, if you feel comfortable in your environment and you have friendly people around you. I am lucky on that aspect.

What was especially hard for me were the simpler things: Caring for myself like sports and other daily routines. It took me some time to realize that I should maybe start doing/ using those things. Even then it was hard to keep doing them. Most of us have that problem even in our normal lives, you know you should do something but you never really do it. This is (at least for me) even harder during an exchange year.

But it comes, slowly but surely; every day I feel a bit more at home in my everyday life. The more you get to know your environment the easier it is to adapt to everything as much as it suits you.

Malin

Christmas special

05. 01. 2019

I know it is a bit late, but I think it is time to tell you a bit about the Christmas traditions in Estonia.

My (host)family got a Christmas tree at the 30. December. It was an artificial one, but traditionally people get their Christmas tree later and use a natural one. Apart from that we have chains of lights around our house and my (host)sister’s and my room is decorated with fairy lights. Many other houses – especially in the country side – are decorated with Christmas lights.

Christmas tree in Tartu

In Tartu the main shopping centers are graced with a lot of Christmas lights and the streets in the old town are lit with more of them. On the town hall square is standing a tall Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and lights. Under the Christmas tree is a mail box for Father Christmas and there is a small Christmas market.

A bigger Christmas market is in Tallinn (I visited it two days ago). This one is said to be the most beautiful one in Europe, but that would be an exaggeration. It is hard to hear a word Estonian on the Christmas market in Tallinn, there are mostly tourists and the sellers talk in English and sometimes Russian with their customers. Woollen socks, pullovers, scarves, gloves and hats but also candles, Christmas ornaments and mulled wine can be bought there

I also made gingerbread (piparkoogid) together with my sister; those are the traditional biscuits for Christmas. They are a bit spicier than I know them from Germany and are similar to the Scandinavian ones.

In my school we had a Christmas ball. The teachers from my school had made a short (and quite entertaining) Christmas film and there was some Christmas decoration in other respects it was not much different from a normal ball. I cannot really dance and the dancing lessons before did not help, but I enjoyed it anyway.Most students (and teachers) dressed up a bit more festive on our last day of school and we gave each other presents. We only had four lessons and during one of them all students from 10th to 12th grade sang together in the assembly hall. Some of the songs were English ones translated to Estonian, others were Estonian. I did like to sing with all the other students, even though some of them did not strike the right tones and I did not know all the words, the atmosphere was very Christmas like. Later everyone wished each other a happy Christmas and I went home through the snow.

On Christmas Eve we are going to eat together and open some presents. Since most Estonians are not religious Christmas is not as important as in other European countries. Most families do not celebrate Christmas that much; some not at all.

When the snow first fell everyone told me that even in Estonia Christmas is usually without snow, but this year it looks like we are going to have a very white Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you, may the snow fall unexpectedly today at your place too ٩(^ᴗ^)۶◞✧

Malin