When you want more than you have, you think what you need.
And when you think more than you want, your thoughts begin to bleed.
I think I need to find a bigger place, because when you have more than you think, you need more space.
Yes, everything started once again for me like in the lyrics above, I say once again because I already had experience studying abroad with my Erasmus in Denmark and this time it was time for Estonia. Okay, let do a proper introduction of myself…
I am Servet Kurt, 23 years old and hopefully immortal Turkish male. After my Erasmus once again I felt that Ankara, Turkey, with 76 000 000 inhabitants is getting too small for me again. I needed something more…So, I found the place for myself somewhere 2.725,5 km away from my home, a place called Estonia, in other words known as E-stonia. As a software engineering student I immediately felt a challenge, going there and seeing why a country is known like that. I applied to be a master student in the University of Tartu and all of a sudden I was accepted.
Some time later, few days before departure from my home, I started thinking what I actually know about Estonia??!! E-country, 2.725,5 km away from home…And I opened Google to get some more information about a country which is barely seen on the world map: population: 1.3 million?? – is it a joke? Forests cover 48% of Estonia?? – where and why am I going? But there was no way back and next moment I found myself on a plane, flying towards Estonia…
28th of August 2012, I stepped out of the airport in Tallinn, into the total darkness after shiny Ankara, Istanbul and coldness of course. Compared to 41 C in Turkey, Estonia’s 16 C really felt like cold coffee in the morning. Taxi driver on the way to bus station, to break the ice, asked me if I drink vodka. Getting confused and anxious, I answered I don ́t. After some awkward silence with the driver we arrived to bus station which was…one wooden house for one person (I found out later that it was because of the construction works). I got my ticket to Tartu and I started to fall into a depression. In a bus I only heard weird, very manly sounding music, I decided it must be Estonian folk music (which later was proved). I looked out of the window and I saw nothing. Nothing at all! Like in the middle of nowhere, not knowing where I am actually going, I already started to miss my friends.
Finally, after 2.5 hours in the bus, I arrived to Tartu. Do they really call it a city – was my first thought. Where are all the advertisements, shops, all the shiny city lights?? At least, I knew the address of my dormitory and I took a taxi there. Later I figured out that it was 900 meters walking from the bus station and that was the reason why the taxi driver gave me some weird looks.
In my bed in the dormitory the first night, I was sure I would have book the tickets back to Turkey the following day. I was even sleeping in my clothes!
When the morning arrived, I saw that there’s actually a daylight in Estonia and things started to get brighter somehow.
I went to my courses in the university and after some time I realized that education level in Mathematics and Computer Science department is really on a level that Estonia can be called E- country and I was happy didn’t return home after the first week…
And there were even more things about Tartu and Estonia, which made me feel like I really found the place I was looking for. I made many great international friends from the university and from the Erasmus football team I participated in. In one football match between Estonian’s team Tartu Tammeka and Erasmus team, I was chosen to be “The best player“. That night I felt like Estonian Cristiano Ronaldo! Or even a bit more important 😀
Besides, I used to think Estonians are very cold and emotionless people. This is what I generally can see in school, in shops, on the streets. One example from school: in Turkey if you go to the school in the morning, people are sitting very close to each other, even if they don’t know each other and even if there are only 4 people in the classroom. In Estonia, the less people at school, the best it is, because everyone can then have their own corner, because they never sit close to each other in the classroom. But now I also know that one just has to find a way to Estonians’ hearts, and Estonians are also very warm and open people. It only takes two beers for them to get closer to you. I had an awesome chance to visit a real Estonian family, be welcomed in their house, eat real Estonian food (which I’m not gonna comment about after growing up in a country with real Mediterranean cuisine) and see their everyday life. 🙂
What else I didn’t know about Estonians was the fact that they can walk on water. Or even drive cars on water. That’s what I also had a chance to do. Who would have ever thought that a sea can be frozen enough that you can travel on it by a car? I still wouldn’t believe that, if I have never been there! Furthermore, the feeling that I go out and have my beard frozen was also another experience for me! Or the feeling that you can never have enough clothes on you. And what’s the most interesting fact about Estonian weather, is that even I complained in the spring that it is too hot!
Apart from playing more weekly football games than Cristiano Ronaldo, being an exemplary master student and having a good social life, I still had time to also participate in the Estonian language course, which helped me a lot to understand the mentality of the language. You just need to add „-ima“ to the end of every word and you speak Estonian! Examples: „ma washima dishima“, „ma takeima showerima“, „ma goima shoppima“ etc. So, basically with my closest friends I already speak Estonian.
One more awesome thing about being in Estonia and having an Estonian girlfriend is that you can go to Tallinn, to Lilleküla stadium and look just as good as we do in that photo…and secretly support your own country, while you have both Estonian and Turkish flags on your cheeks and you promised to your girlfriend that you wouldn’t heavily support Turkey, because you’re in Estonian fan sector…
All in all, I think I can call myself a real Tartu student by now. I have passed all the mandatory exams for that: climbing the bridge, visiting all the most famous clubs in Tartu, swimming in the fountain and knowing that if you feel alone on Wednesday night (or some other nights during the week), you will always find some friends in front of Möku.
So thinking back, Turkey really started to feel too small for me and I needed something “bigger“ and by now I can say that Estonia was the best place to find what I wanted.
Author: Servet Kurt, Turkey, MSc in Software Engineering