“Sooo… Why do you want to spend a year in Estonia? Why not Canada or the USA?”
This is the question I was asked almost always after I told people I would spend an exchange year in Estonia. Most of my friends do not plan an exchange year at all and those, who do are going to the United States. I was also told, that I will not have any use for the language, Estonian, in the future; there are less people speaking the language than living in my hometown! So, why go to Estonia?
- The first thing I tell people is that I do not want to go to an English-speaking country. Yes, I love the English language and it is spoken in many beautiful countries, but I want to learn an entirely new language. I can speak English already. Of course, it is not perfect and I still have so much to learn, but learning a completely new language is a very nice side effect of an exchange year and I would like to take that opportunity.
- Estonia has a diverse nature. Almost 50 % of Estonia’s surface is covered with forest and I enjoy spending time in the woods, which is difficult for me now because I live in a large city. They have also very cold winters in Estonia (well relatively: the average temperature in February is about -7°C), another plus for the country. In addition I hope to see the northern lights there (that may be unrealistic, but maybe I will be lucky enough).
- They sing very much in Estonia. I learned this point after I decided to go to Estonia so it doesn’t really count. Still, it is important to me. I love singing and I am looking forward to learn the songs that are sung there.
- I spoke with a girl who had spent an exchange year in Estonia (also with YFU) and she told me so enthusiastically about it, that it probably convinced me. I think that caused me to finally choose Estonia.
The list of possible countries for my exchange year I gave YFU was very long. There were almost all countries that YFU provided and I guess I was very proud of it. Estonia, though, was on the top of that list. In the end I think, I would be just as content to be able to go to almost any other nation. After the year it will be the experience that counts and not the name of the place you’ve been. Or at least that is what I expect it to be.
Other questions I was asked were:
“Where is Estonia?”
“Estonia’s capital city is Riga right?”
“What language do they speak in Estonia?”
Those questions showed me that Estonia is such an interesting country to go to because nobody really knows it. It is something unknown even though it is not far away from here and that too is something I like about Estonia. I always enjoyed learning about the hidden things and maybe even making them visible for others.