Tallinn

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Not too long ago, we had our (past) mid-year orientation in the capital city of Estonia, Tallinn.Image

If you don’t know much about Estonia I will tell you somethings. They speak Estonian, there is an average population of 1 million people, and they invented Skype. Good for them. We took off school on Friday and got on a bus! It was a 4 hour ride in a double-decker! It was sweet! It was like a tiny airplane! There were TV screens in the back of the seat in front of you, there was a “flight-attendant” button above your head, and free coffee! It wasn’t a bad deal at all! I sat with my friend Tang-Mo from Thailand and we synchronized our TV screens to play the movie Brave at the same time. I had never seen that movie before, but it was sure hard to understand them! I am not quite sure what accent the characters had, but it was a heavy one! I wonder how much Tang-Mo understood. A couple of times we had to pause it and I had to explain/translate what the characters said. I am once again reminded how blessed I am that my native language is English!

Once we arrived in Tallinn, we searched the Old Town for our hostel. We arrived at a promising one, even took off all our shoes, only to find out it was the wrong one. Disappointing. We continued the search and finally found it. I’m not going to lie, it was a bit sketchy. There was little to no heat and there was a very strong smell of sewage. But that is what it is like in Europe as a back-packer. Take what you are given! In another room of the hostel was a group of college students from England. (More on them later.) After we dropped our stuff down, we went to eat some dinner. It was so nice to meet up with all my exchange student friends again! Our Latvian has MUCH improved! We can actually keep up and speak at a normal speed now! Impressive, I know. We played a game of Telephone at the dinner table. I tell you, that game is much more fun with foreigners!!! I wish I remember what came of the sentences because it was pretty darn hilarious! Next time we play, I will be sure to take note. After we finished eating, we had free-time about the city until 10:30 p.m. Free-time, in a European city we had never been to before, at night. Awesome!

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You bet we took advantage of that! I was in a group of 4 and we just roamed the city! We ended up in a medieval restaurant drinking delicious black tea and listening to Estonian folk music. The whole restaurant was lit by candles (like the one in Riga) and we all shared about our experience thus far into our exchange year. Turns out, we feel a lot of the same things, good and bad. I never knew that we had that much in common! It was a very refreshing conversation!

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The next day, we took a tour of the city and learned all about Estonian culture. Our tour guide’s accent was marvelous! It was similar to Irish. I loved it! Then we met up with the YFU exchange students living in Estonia. That was super fun! We were paired off and given a list of tasks to complete. It was kind of like a video scavenger hunt! We had a list of sights to see and a list of fun bonus tasks. Unfortunately, we lost our serious list after about 5 minutes. (Or perhaps it was fortunate…) In my group was Katharina, Pauline, Tang-Mo, and Nora (the Estonian exchange student form Germany). Image 

We had a super awesome time together! We totally killed that list of things to do! I wish I could upload the videos of our adventures. We asked strangers if they knew any traditional dance steps, we ran around asking Charlie to take us to Candy Mountain, we walked like robots up a staircase. Basically, we looked like crazy tourists, but I didn’t mind. We ate yummy Estonian chocolate cheese. I do have a picture of that!

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Oh and look! There is a sign for a Beer Garden in the back! How did I miss that before?! Oh and I played hacky-sack with some kids in the middle of town. I even got my picture with them! Nora was nervous that she was going to meet them sometime in the near future (because Estonia is so tiny), so she didn’t want to act too strange around them… too late.

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They were good sports. Oh, by the way, Estonia was FREEZING while we were there. I don’t know whose idea it was to go north for spring break, but it wasn’t very well thought through. My fingers wanted to fall off, but I told them I needed them to type my blog. Thank goodness I still have them and they are in good condition. After the scavenger hunt, we had more free time (like the scavenger hunt wasn’t free time). Then when we met up again, we ordered Chinese food, logically, and talked about our exchange year with the leaders. Our lives are all so different! It is so interesting to hear about everyone’s stories. There are funny ones and heart-breaking ones. That is the life of a true foreign exchange student. The roller coaster never ends.

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On the last night we were there, the leaders went out for some “hot-chocolate” at 11 p.m. and we were left to our own devices. (This is where the college kids from England come into play.) Naturally we were invited to party with them, but surprisingly, none of us did! I think we were all super exhausted from being out in the cold all day. But that didn’t keep them from partying! Oh no! They were up until I don’t even know when! And they let us know it! Good grief. Hostels are interesting places. We all stayed and talked and I pretended like I understood German. I am getting there! I can understand some things, actually! They asked me to say something in German and the only thing that came to mind was “kochtopf” so that’s what I said. It was especially humorous to hear the Thai girls speak in German. I love being around worldly people! It is good fun! 

Well that basically covers my trip to Tallinn. We, of course, rode back the 4 hours and I watched Ghost this time. So, in closing, I will include a picture of my sleeping cat. He is pretty adorable. Šandors is his name in case you were wondering.

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Good night and good luck.

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