“I first came to Estonia as an exchange student. I was supposed to stay here for five months but obviously, things changed. The decision to stay here was very intuitive, it wasn’t rational. I just felt very comfortable here and thought if i stayed here longer, good things would happen. Then, of course, I met an Estonian guy, and now I’ve been living here for two and a half years.
When I first came to Estonia, I had no expectations. If we think about migration nowadays, people mostly go to Scandinavia or Germany, the United Kingdom, France… I could imagine life in those countries but I had never been to this region at all. Having no previous knowledge or expectations made it so much more interesting to come to another Eastern European country.
What I like about Estonia the most is the way people treat each other. I think it’s because it’s such a small country: people take friendships more seriously. It’s harder to get close to people but once you do, the friendship is forever. Another thing I like is the people’s secular attitude. In Poland, I always felt the need to protest, especially when it came to women’s rights. Poland is very traditional and conservative: many things there shouldn’t be like this in the 21st century. In Estonia, I feel more comfortable as a woman.
Right now, my life and my heart is in Estonia. I will definitely stay here for a while. In many respects, I feel closer to Tallinn and the Estonian culture. But of course I also miss Poland: I miss the very open, emotional style of communication and I miss Polish culture, going to the theater, cinema and local exhibitions.
I think to feel integrated, one should know the local language. I’m a bit ashamed I still don’t speak it. Since everybody speaks very good English here, you can get by with that, but you can’t read the local news and feel part of the community. Here, by organizing some cultural events, I have gotten close to the locals, but I wish I could also read the news or to see what my friends are writing. I think participating in cultural activities is really what integrates you into the society.
In the last year, I’ve really noticed how multicultural Tallinn is getting. In the centre of the city, you mainly hear English! I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing but I think Estonians have nothing to worry about: their sense of national identity and culture is so strong it can’t be endangered by migration. And since so many people are leaving the country, you need immigrants to keep the economy going. Also, more migration brings more good food and enriches the local cuisine!
I really feel at home in Tallinn. Geographically and demographically, it’s perfect here. Honestly, it feels so cool here – I live in Eastern Europe but I feel so cosmopolitan! And I’ve been welcomed so warmly by Estonian, I was helped a lot by Estonians. I’m thinking I probably won’t be able to repay all this kindness but I would like to give the society something back in the future.”
Related Sustainable Development Goal: