As all international students who had, are, or will be studying in Estonia; are or should be fully aware and prepared to answer your Estonian acquaintances’ burning question: Why did you choose Estonia?
Let me put it upfront: The answer you give is highly likely to be served as a test of judgement.
For most of the time, it is a conversation starter, but depending on your answer, it could either make or break your nice little acquainted first moments with the Estonian you want to befriend so badly.
After facing the question umpteen times, one would eventually be bored of his/her template answer. As you might have already experienced, boring template answers do not advance your conversation with your newly met Estonian acquaintance. I have gathered the Top 3 uninteresting answers from exchange and degree students alike.
Top 3 Sure-Ways-to-be-Forever-Alone mundane template answers:
1) Because the University of Tartu was established in 1632. I want to be part of a culturally and historically rich university!
2) Eh, I don’t know. I really don’t know. It was like on my Eramus or potential university list and, eh, ya, I’m here.
3) Because I want to study Russian here.
The first answer draws a “you’re rrrighttttt” response.
The second answer just displayed one’s true desire of studying in Estonia and his/her unfathomable capacity of his/her intelligence.
The third answer is a total conversation shutdown. *Exceptions*
Needless to say, I have developed myself a list of answers that drew responses from our icy Estonian counterparts. The answers I have came out with consist of some factual, half-true statements, and some are just total bull-crap that is meant to entertain myself. Hey, it’s not always about the other person, sometimes you got to laugh at yourself.
So, here is my list of answers (not ranked in any order or significance):
*Of course, you have to be manipulative with your wordplay. My suggestions are not meant to be said word-for-word or taken seriously.
Question: Why Estonia?
1) Because I want to get away from my kind.
Result: You will attract the deep-thinking Estonians who will start asking whys and want to get to know you and your culture even more.
2) Because I love potatoes and it is nearly 10 times cheaper in Estonia to Singapore’s.
Result: It’s human nature to be drawn closer to you when similarities are realised. This answer could lead to a potential potato cooking date. Yes, you’re welcome.
3) Because I’m answering your country’s call to solve your aging population.
Result: Only the ones with a sense of humour would stay to talk crap with you. Who cares about the dull ones who shun away?
4) Because you guys are introverted misanthropists, so am I.
Result: A nod of approval guaranteed. Explore the mysteries of how Spanish-speaking people could be such partying extroverts.
5) Because I’ve heard the ladies are as cool as ice even during their PMS and periods. I have to see it for myself.
Result: Again, the funny ones will laugh together with you. The boring ones would continue their reign in their kingdoms of boredom.
6) Because people here say kaksteist kuud (12 months), kook (cake), tuhat kaks (1002), kaksteist bussid (12 buses), and bussijaam (bus station).
Result: For self-entertainment. Laugh at yourself. Walk away. Get a beer. Life carries on.
7) Because I got a girl pregnant back home and Estonia seems to be the perfect hiding place.
8) Because of the tuition fees. 3 years of tuition fees here would not be even enough to cover a year of tuition fees in most Universities in Singapore.
Result: It will attract the smart and curious deep thinkers, and finance geeks to discover why.
9) Because my country will kill me for being an atheist.
Result: You got a 70% chance of striking a positive note with any Estonians out there.
10) Because I’m re-discovering my roots; there’s an area in Tartu County called Saburi. I’m here to inherit my kingdom.
Result: Mixed results; some subtle racist underlining remarks, and the others who have a sense of humour laughed. Who cares? I’m having a ball.
For the record, I don’t think I will ever stick to one reason of why I came to Estonia. It’s boring.
I’m not saying that it is a sure way of getting conversations started with my suggestions, it really depends how funny and deep the other party is. Some are and some are not. As simple as that.
I hope my readers will learn a thing or two to not be annoyed when faced with a question but embrace it with humour. Estonians are genuinely interested why people would choose their country considering their size and the choices available in presumably more urbanized and developed western European or Scandinavian countries.
I mean seriously, sometimes I do ask myself, “Why Estonia?”
What are yours?
(Please leave your comments below.) 🙂
Author: Saburi Ken, Singapore, Business Administration