Today is the Independence Day, and I have a day-off like all Estonians do. I don’t feel that I’m a guest on a strangers’ party, but do feel like a part of it.
Although Estonians are thought to be reserved (well, a bit like me), once the ice is broken I have had so many interesting talks with them. What they have told me affects my thoughts; I started to feel like an Estonian eventually.
A photo of mine with so many Estonian
“You know, Estonia is a small country”
“You know, Estonia is a small country”, said an Estonian. They always say it when they talk to foreigners about their country. I actually did not pay much attention to how small Estonia is until Estonia keeps saying it to me. Thus, I looked at numbers. Compared to my home country, Estonia is seven times smaller. Well, now I think Estonia is small.
Taking Tartu as an example, you don’t have to take a cab from Rüütli to your dorm if you’re wasted (ahem, you, not me). You can just walk back home and save that money for another drink. Let’s go a bit further. I can go to the capital, Tallinn, just to buy an H&M shirt and return to Tartu in less than half a day. I can’t do that in Vietnam. I feel so good that everything is within the reach here literally.
“Estonian is a difficult but beautiful language”
Whenever you say to an Estonian that you are learning Estonian, they might say one of the following things or all. “Estonian is a difficult but beautiful language”. I could feel that they said it with great pride. They are proud of these vowels “õ, ä, ö, ü”. I think it can’t be compared to those in Vietnamese “ă, â, ê, ô, ơ, ư” and another 6 tone marks (accent marks). Vietnamese is not hard at all, especially the pronunciation. Seriously!
“Eesti keel on ilus” means Estonian language is beautiful. “Keel” is ambiguous; it also means “tongue”.
The second one is: “Some Russians live in Estonia for a long time but do not speak a single word in Estonian”. Another variation of that is: “You speak Estonian better than some Russian here”. I feel I have made a good start for integration.
Sauna, sauna, and sauna
I have known that Estonians love sauna before coming here; I think I am going to have a sauna maybe once or twice just to know. In fact, until now, I take a sauna monthly. It just happened. I know Estonians have sauna like weekly, or even 2-3 times a week. At least when I was in Lapland and told to an English guy that I have a sauna every month, he said, “Yes, you live in Estonia”. I feel I like sauna like an Estonian. Ah, one more thing, I’m fine to sit next to naked guys in sauna now. It was quite a cultural shock in the beginning though.
Dirty wet snow
Months before winter came, Estonians had warned me about dirty melting snow period. They described it with a funny expressive face showing disgusting feeling of wet snow. After days of light romantic snow falling from the sky sparkling in sunlight or streetlight, temperature fluctuated around zero, snow started to melt and freeze alternatively. Say goodbye to pure white snow, it became brownish-white snow. Layers of ice, wet snow, water, and new dry snow are surely not fun to walk around. It is dirty, slippery, and not romantic at all, even dangerous. I immediately expressed the face as an Estonian, “Grrr, it’s so dirty”.
Through the dark winter, you will treasure the sunlight
One said it was good that I have been here since autumn, spent through winter, so I would treasure summer. The winter began with reducing of sunlight and then was filled with seasonal depression. Looking through the window, it was just dreary winter. Another Estonian told me that it got better when it snowed. It was true. My mood was up when snow covered everything outside. Stunning white scenes replaced gloomy backgrounds. I began to treasure the days beautified by sunlight like an Estonian.
Joy in the winter
As an Estonian lover, I wish Estonia will have endless sunny days of peace and joyfulness. Let’s celebrate the Estonia Independence day (Iseseisvuspäev, or Eesti Vabariigi aastapäev).