Hi! It’s Nkajima again, here with your neighborly tips on student life in Estonia. Moving to a new country can be daunting. I know I had mixed feelings when I had to leave Nigeria for Estonia. I felt sad about leaving my family and friends, but also felt some excitement at the new future and memories I would get to make in Estonia. Here are some practical and emotional tips to help you through moving and settling down in Estonia
You got this!
Moving is scary, I know! The thought of leaving your safety zone, your family, friends and all you know to a new place can be scary. You probably are feeling sad and anxious. But I am here to tell you: there’s nothing to fear. Here’s a virtual hug from me to you. Here’s my tip for you: accept and embrace all the emotions swirling in you, it’s totally normal to feel this way when doing something new. Accepting and embracing the way you feel is a healthy way to adjust to moving.
Take some familiar things with you
To help you feel comfortable in Estonia, take some familiar items with you. Things like family pictures, posters or stuff you had at home you can use in decorating your room. You’ll always have the feeling of home and family around you.
Google Translate is your friend and you should have it on your phone. Of course, you’ll meet people who speak English, but if you don’t have the app, now is the time to get it. Don’t be scared by this. Estonia is a diverse country and you need to communicate with people. Google translate is your best bet.
Pre-programme meetings are great for settling in
When I got to my hostel in Tartu on my first day, I was really upset. My peer tutor had planned a meet up for the new students in my programme, but I was so tired and wanted to sleep and decided not to go. Eventually, I went but I was late and missed the meet up. There was another for a different programme which she said I could be part of. Trust me, that was the best thing ever. She showed us around the university, we drank, laughed, played games, got to know each other and I am still friends with most of those people.
Orientation is important
Never underestimate the power of orientation. My advice to you: don’t miss it! Everything you need to know about your school, policies, procedures would be talked about at orientation. It’ll help ease you into a lot of things about school. You get to make friends as well during orientation.
Be open to different cultures
As I said earlier, Estonia is a diverse country. There are people and students from everywhere. I know that the default of most people when in a new place is to find their tribe: people they share something in common with, especially culture. Don’t cut yourself from experiencing different cultures and people. Moving to and settling in Estonia would be so much easier if you have an open mind and heart for different cultures.
Peer tutors and student buddies are a great help
In Tartu, there are peer tutors. A peer tutor is a volunteer student who has completed a special course at UT, and who helps the newly arriving students in adaptation process in getting started at University of Tartu. My peer tutor happened to be of great help to me. Even before I got to Estonia, we chatted a lot and I asked questions and voiced my concern and fears. She was always there to answer. Never be afraid to ask questions or share your concerns. If you are not assigned a peer tutor, you can ask for a school buddy who is just as helpful.
Look out for and be a part of student groups
One of the things you should do to make moving a lot easier for you is to look out for and be a part of student groups. There are several student groups in Estonia that you can be a part of. These groups have various activities for new students to help them get comfortable. Groups such as ESN Tallinn, ESN Tartu, AIESEC in Estonia are all groups you can get to meet new international students, create bonds with older students, engage in activities and in general have fun. Also, if you’re into networking, InterNations is your best bet.
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to Student Ambassadors if you need to talk to someone before and after you arrive. We are always here to walk you through moving and settling in.
Text: Nkajima Ngewe-Oluka