THREE AND A HALF YEARS IN TARTU AND 3.5 YEARS MORE TO GO (AT LEAST) – SOFIA (PORTUGAL)
My adventure in Tartu started with ERASMUS program in 2013 when I wanted to do an internship at UT in a microbiology lab. Can’t believe that I have been living here for 3.5 years already and still not sure when I’m leaving.
Now you ask: Why are you staying for so long in Tartu? One side of me knows the answer but I also still ask myself why I keep staying. It is the opportunity to do the master program at UT and still working in the lab and then the opportunity to do my Ph.D. Ok, study is the reason, but why do not go somewhere else? Actually, I would like to go to some other countries, but something else traps me here, don’t know what. Maybe I just got so comfortable and like here so much that I don’t want to leave.
After some years spending here I have seen and learned a lot about Estonia and the people. On my first year, I tried to enjoy and learn from Estonian culture the most that I could, except for the language – too difficult to learn and I was thinking to stay for only 8 months! Shame, just tried on 3rd year to learn the Estonian language.
How did I learn more about Estonia? Visiting small cities in Estonia, try to talk with locals to understand them and also for them to understand me. It is needed for people to understand you if you want to feel at home. Especially when you are so different from the locals – an emotional and loud person like me can have problems with the adaptation. The trick is also to teach Estonians about your culture and about yourself. The adaptation sometimes can be difficult but if you have a good group of friends and nice co-workers, everything is much easier.
Regarding the studies, I did two years of masters – Applied Measurement Science program – with a lot of struggles. Now I’m doing Ph.D. studies in Engineer and Technology. The Ph.D. program gives me the opportunity to work in the lab and still have courses to get more theoretical knowledge. Sometimes the issue is that there are not so many courses taught in English in the Biology field. I guess it is what I dislike about the program. However, I really enjoy the environment at work in the lab and people try to help you and integrate you most that they can.
Am I planning to stay even more years in Estonia after defending my Ph.D. thesis? My answer is always no, and I still here. Probably only 3,5 years more won’t be enough!