Sunday, September 1, 2013

Some random observations in Estonia...

- What about this beige shoe obsession? Is it Estonian or secretly just a Russian issue? I've spotted quite a lot of men wearing beige suits, something you wouldn't see that quickly in the Netherlands I guess. But combining a beige suit with beige shoes? No.

- Our Academic library owns a magic machine. When you place a pile of books on a simple looking glass plate it can somehow identify all single books in the pile.

- It is expensive here! A few weeks ago I bought a deodorant in Germany for 1.15 euro's. Here the exact same one is 3,20 euro's. Also dairy products are way more pricy than for example in the Netherlands, or, do we pay over one euro for one liter of normal yoghurt as well?

- Unfortunately I discovered I still cannot hear the difference between Estonian and Finnish.

- If you're a Dutchman with English language skills and you have a slight dirty mind you might giggle about how the Estonians call Pippi Longstockings. Pipi Pikksukk it is!

- Every time I start something new I face some innocent start-up problems. I'm always curious if I'll be able to make new friends, if the courses I'll take won't be hard enough,... those kind of things. They however do not fill my mind with sorrows, so that's pleasant. Still, also now here in Tallinn, my parents keep on calling me 'Trabant', from the East German car producer which made vehicles which needed some time to get started. But, once they finally got started everything turned out to be fine!

- I'm still a bit disappointed when the Dutch cheese I buy here doesn't taste as promising as the nice package (decorated with Dutch old fashioned mills) makes me wish it does.

- Estonia is very proud of its quick internet. Unfortunately at the dormitory I can only watch video's at the lowest bandwidth and then still they pause every couple of seconds.

- From my window I often spot planes which are about to land. I like that.

- I'm quite surprised how well I can find my way around in Tallinn. Seems I remembered a lot from the week I once spent here in 2009 and the business trips I made during my internship at the Institute of Baltic Studies.

- In one of the Swedback offices I saw a coin machine. Several people went there with a bag full of small coins in order to let them count by the machine and get paper money in return. What a lovely invention. Another thing I noticed there was a three-colored stripe attached next to the door. I had only seen this in Sweden before and it's used to estimate the length of suspicious people.

- I'm intensely sad I didn't manage to find my beloved Finnish Fazer 'Salmiakki' here in the shops yet. Nevertheless, it's good to know that there are a lot of other products from Finland to be found in Tallinn. The bread is delicious as well as the Karelian pasties. I'm enjoying a bag of Moomin winegums now and my notebook for school is from Marimekko. Thumbs up for Suomi!

- I like supermarkets. The ones in shopping malls Kaubamaja and Solaris are expensive but offer good quality. Comarket is situated next to Tallinn University, but still, I guess Rimi stays my favorite. I used to go there when I still lived in Riga and I love to walk around seeing all these familiar products. Till now I found one Maxima supermarket and I'm probably not going there again. There were too many smelly people. 

- I forgot about the smell of heavy alcohol users. You know, these kind of people from which pure spirit seems to come out of their pores. Well, being here reminded me again how awful it smells. It occurred already a few times that I caught an unpleasant smell and then discovered a homeless boozer was hanging out in a radius of around ten meters. If they are of the worst kind the smell is even combined with a crap-in-pants aroma. DIS GUS TING !

- A dilemma at the gym... Two changing rooms, 'M' and 'N'. One person walked out of the 'N' room but then still I didn't know what the male or female section was. It happened to be a very masculine looking woman afterwards. 'M' is mees (man), 'N' is naine (woman). Some more words to be added to my Estonian vocabulary list.

- On one of the first pages of my 'guide for international students' from Tallinn University Estonian people are described. During the introduction week we were told to be very patient when it comes to Estonians and communication. Here some examples of what is written down: "Estonians are individualists, put four Estonians together and you'll get five parties. Estonians are not prone to emotional extremes. Estonians are quiet and do not ask many questions".

All in all, with a little patience and proper down-to-earthness I'll hopefully manage to find my way in this mysterious country.

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