The year after I graduated from college, I had been working as a translator in Beijing’s Central Business District, as other newly graduates in big cities stepping on a normal path, one hour stuck in a packed tube, burden of costly rent, and breathing inside outrageous smog. Two months later on a routine night-time jogging, a sudden fit of terrible coughing caused by the smog made my lung aching, and that pain of that moment made me realized that I will not compromise this time at the risk of my own body.

Now I am in Estonia, breathing in a lung-full of the world’s cleanest air. That is a valid reason why I ended up here, while my story is more than that. My name is Lidong. I am from China. unnamed


Photographer: Tom Ponyer

I moved from the North to the South, settled down in Yangshuo, where is well-known for its unique landscape. I worked in a language school and took students outside for a trip at weekends. Meanwhile, I was considering about where is the next and probably I will come back to Europe. Three years before, during my second year in University, it was possible to choose extra courses in little-known languages. The story started from that moment I clicked the register button. I met my beautiful and experienced Estonian teacher Inga. I worked hard to challenge my limits. My efforts earned me a full mark. I received scholarship supporting me to study in Tallinn University. I visited the University of Tartu. I had fabulous time in Estonia and unforgettable trip around Europe at age of 20.


UT library

After half year working in Yangshuo, I moved to Dali to start my own projects as one of the great number of young generation moving out from big cities to remote parts of China. There were people who are interested in Estonia, so I organized small classes teaching basic Estonian. I was pleased that after two months study, they could introduce themselves. At the same time, I finished my application for master program in semiotics. Thanks to the super easy applying procedure, I just mailed my documents from Dali, three weeks to Beijing and one more week to Tartu, which only costed me 3 euros and Bob’s your uncle. In my letter of motivation, I used following as an ending: I still remember what I said to myself when I left Tallinn, “Ma tulen tagasi ühel päeval.”unnamed-2

Estonian class at Dali

The moment I clicked the register button of Estonian course; the moment I walked by the main building of UT; the moment I told myself I will come back to Estonian one day. These moments lead me here and so far so good.


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