Quite a brave statement from an international: Being an international in such a reserved country as Estonia is a tough nut to crack.
It was all fun and games in the first month, we were ridiculously naive but eager to get whatever we can get out of our experiences. The most positive side of it was probably being surrounded by open-minded and tolerant Estonians who were willingly giving proper answers to our thickheaded questions.
Well, I’m a quick learner. After the first month we were settled down, started off our lives as proper local people. Wasn’t really easy, especially in a country that is so proud of their language, I came to terms with the bitter fact that I was never going to be able to be one of them unless I spoke their language.
Language is the most visible cultural trait, so my discovery led me to push my chances to explore the other traits of this overlooked culture.
As I was willingly pursuing this treasure hunt, sometimes my discoveries left me appalled, sometimes amazed, sometimes bitterly shocked.
Accepting and appreciating a culture is pretty much similar to making new friends. It takes a lot, of time, of energy. If lucky, it’s an amazing experience, but comes with an enormous baggage and full time demand.
Little science fact: Throughout time, people tried to come up with research methods to name, categorise and measure cultural traits but up until Industrial Revolution, followed by French Revolution, this wasn’t prioritized for social sciences. With the brand new world order, social sciences were rising as a phoenix again, and it became crucial to being able to read into cultures.
In 1970’s, this guy, Geert Hofstede came up with cultural dimensions theory which enabled people to read and analyse different cultures based on a certain methodology. So, today we are a bit closer to delve into this thanks to Dr. Hofstede.
Having studied communication sciences, I personally follow and implement different methodologies into my cultural researches, for the past months basically I’ve been actually studying the Estonian culture for my personal endeavours.
Along this long journey, you always appreciate honest companions, thankfully I have been blessed with a few of those, and this will lead us to the actual topic of this entry.
I would like to call her as a friend, Ilona, as she has always been ready to help me understand and analyse Estonian qualities. Dearly appreciated.
She’s a lecturer at Tallinn University (at the Youth Work department), a fellow human rights defender and an amazing teacher. Although I can barely see her at the office, I tend to not skip any chance to talk with her and educate myself more about this country and its people.
One day, she invited me to one of her lectures to share my experiences in multicultural youth work and personal experiences with her students alongside Kelly Grossthal from Estonia Human Rights’ Center and Heili from our department. Mrs. Grossthal shared her latest research with us, walked us through the phases and outcomes of her research (which left us in indefinite shock) but dear Heili had good news for us as she shared her work and experiences with the refugees & immigrants in the UK, which definitely restored our faith in humanity. I would like to refrain from sharing my personal opinions regarding this subject but would like to stress this out, there’s a LOT to do in Estonia and I would love to be a part of this mess.
Let me wrap this up with a few beautiful words from one of the most beautiful souls that came across this universe;
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”