Estonia: the unknown country far north
Going to a country with fewer inhabitants than our capital, we gained wonderful experiences we could have never dreamed of before. After having arrived in Estonia, we had a warm and kind welcome by our exchange students’ families. They helped us throughout the week and made us feel just like home.
Whenever touring around with our cosy bus, we noticed that Estonia’s landscape seems pretty similar to Germany’s despite some significant differences concerning infrastructure, population density, remote areas and busy cities like Tartu.
Astonishing spots right within the woods, modern and busy city centres – at least in Tartu – but also areas of total silence which are decorated with cute little huts. All that defines our experiences which will never be forgotten.
During our first day after arriving in Kanepi and spending the night with our host families for the first time, we visited the Luhamaa Border Crossing Point (BCP) at the Estonian-Russian border where we were guided through several parts of the Border Guards’ workplace. Afterwards we visited a pretty nice bog showing us the connection of Estonia and pure nature.
On Wednesday, we went to Värska and its famous mineral water company which gave us a really interesting insight into the most important employer in Southern Estonia. Later this day, we visited a museum dealing with the history of the Setos, a people wanting to be independent from Estonia and Russia. In the evening, we spent our day at Värska Spa having a relaxing and funny end to an extraordinary but exhausting day.
24 hours later, a mining museum and a tour through an old mine in the North aroused historical impressions of Estonian labourhood in the “good old times”. Traveling to Northern Estonia, we also could not resist to visit a well-known waterfall located at the Baltic Sea. At the rocky coast we were divided into several groups and created pieces of art concerning our trip.
On Friday, our kind Estonian students and their teachers prepared a little workshop in the morning with different little challenges to be done by our teams. After a delicious lunch at school, we travelled to Tartu and enjoyed a guided tour through the ravishing city. At night we reached for the stars at Toravere Observatory.
The family day on Saturday was an excellently timed end of our trip to Estonia. Memories were collected together with newly evolved friendships.
The weather on our last day was perfectly reflecting our mood: it was cold, grey and raining. However, we were able to comfort ourselves with incredible memories and unforgettable experiences we will eternally keep as a treasure not just in our minds but most importantly in our hearts.
We are already looking forward to the end of November when our Estonian friends are going to visit Germany and are hopefully able to gain the same impression of their partners’ country as we did during our time in Estonia.
by Lisa Epperlein and Niclas Zschach