Monthly Archives: August 2010

I am in “Zavood” on Monday, I am in “Zavood” on Tuesday and of course on Friday, too

Finally, I became an ERASMUS student! It has been 7 days since my German flat mates arrived. Yes, I said Germans, coz now 4 out of 5 people living here actually are from this country. However, it is much fun. We all speak English with each other at all times, disregarding our national language. But since approx. 40% of all ERASMUS students living in this house speaks German, I will run no fear of losing my national identity.

Now, despite this huge amount of Germans (and btw, I met a guy from Oldenburg), we have people from pretty much all over the world living here. Mainly European (guess what ERASMUS might stand for) though, but there are people from the US, Canada and even the UK. So it is really international.

Being an ERMAUS student is sooooo much fun! It basically involves drinking at evenings, eating out at night and dancing in the mornings. And in the way people say that “all roads lead to Rome” the young people of Tartu have a saying that “all people end up in Zavood”! It is so true! Zavood is the last place of the dark, a marvelous spot to end a great night out. I have been there only three times but each time I ended up there, I met a bunch of fantastic people who are most willing to talk to me for ages and ages. Despite those 1 or 2 misleading creatures that consider my national heritage as something heroic, I have so far not encountered anybody who was not thrilled by me.


Julian ante portas – 7 days in Tartu

Thursday, 3:35pm – tere hommikust! It is 1 week I have spent in the city so far, so I would like to provide a small overview of what my experiences and impressions are at this point. Good news first, I managed to purchase an internet cable (since WI-FI is only theoretically usable in the house!) and a memory card for my camera, so that I can offer some pictures next to written material. Therefore the 1st image to be seen is the municipality of Tartu. It stands right at the head side of the Raekoja plats. In front of that building, it is the sculpture of the Suudlevad tudengid, the “Kissing Students”, which was decided upon by the people of Tartu who were encouraged to voice preferences about what statue should stand at that spot.

I am still only living in my appartement with my Estonian roommate giving me company but since introduction is supposed to start by next week Wednesday, we expect the remaining 4 people by Sunday the latest. It sure will be interesting to see how 6 guys will cope in a very small place, with limited kitchen furnitures, limited kitchen utilities limited and kitchen-cleaning ambitions! This is my appartements’ kitchen:

The City of Tartu has just over 100,000 inhabitants, making it Estonia’s second biggest one. However, with approx. 20,000 students enrolled annually, it makes its claim for the country’s academical and cultural capital. The university – Tartu Ülikool – is situated just steps from the municipality and was founded by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1632, making it the oldest university in Estonia and the second-oldest in the entire Baltic region (after Vilnius). Below I provided an image of its outside front:

As one can probably already imagine, everything within the city centre can be reached by walking. Distances from me to the pubs, the university, the bus station, the mall or the food market rarely exceed 10 minutes. Besides the train station (which is almost 25 minutes walking!) it is only the football stadium which requires some more time. That stadium will be my destination upcoming Saturday, when the local Tammeka JK Tartu takes on JN Nömme Kalju!

More pictures shall follow soon…!


Day #4 after arrival – Comparing Estonia and Germany

It is Monday noonish so I have spent about 100 hours in Tartu so far. The city is still rather empty (since classes won’t start for another 9 days) but especially at night there is a lot of traffic on both roads and pedestrian streets. The main reason for that may be the film festival Tartuff, which had its last day of action on Saturday evening, when locals performed what I would describe as singer/songwriter music. Besides that, of course, films were shown on a huge (huge!!!) inflatable screen in front of the municipality. May it be the heavy rain caused the moderate amount of people interested or it was due to the movie, which stared Corinna Harfouch and Bruno Ganz in the 2009 “Guila’s Verschwinden”but attendance was low. Myself, however, capable of understanding German enjoyed the evening a lot 🙂

Well, after four days living in Tartu, I dare to make first initial comparisons between both countries, if possible, despite knowing that neither country share many similarities.

#1 – the rain: when it rains, it rains a lot! For hours and hours, including thunder and lighting. The streets are empty (luckily for most pedestrians, cafés are omnipresent and cheap!) and the air cools down much quicker than in Germany.

#2 – eye contact on the streets: While being in Oldenburg, I experienced that most people keep their eyes straight and avoid holding eye contact for too long. However, in Tartu it seems to be considered impolite to not at least give the passing person a quick glance!

#3 – acceptance towards customers in cafés: Since I am still waiting for the internet to be made available in my appartment I am spending most of my day in the nearby kohvik metro and refreshing my webmail account, hoping for salvation – but nothing so far. However, I am sitting here for hours only rarely drinking my coffee, ordering even more rarely and taking up space for more “suitable” customers. But so far, I have not experienced any hard feelings from the staff nor the other people. I have witnessed differently in Germany.

These are the first differences I could come up with. Surely over the next few months, I will find more; they shall find its appreciation here, too. Now I will get my residence permission done!

Nägemist!


Tartu – Heade mõtete linn

Tere hommikust!

Or good morning from Tartu, the “city of good thoughts”! I just woke up in my new bed, which rarely fits my size 🙂 So far, I have spent around 24h in this city and I am feeling very confident that this place suits me fine.

As mentioned before, I call the half of a 16qm room my own, the other half is dedicated to Viljar, 25 who will my be roommate for the upcoming 5 months. We had beer shortly after I arrived, so things will turn out smoothly 😀 The remaining people of the appartement have not yet moved in, leaving the kitchen, toilet and shower to the two of us. However, due to a surplus of foreign students studying at Tartu Ülikool this year, Estonians were forced to be relocated to other student houses. Therefore the other 4 people in my appartement will most likely be foreigners, gossip goes around that 2 of them shall be Germans…

Anyways, I set up my housing contract and paid 800kr deposit. Unfortunately, I will have to wait about 3 days to get my internet connection fixed but since E-stonia is so IT-loving, I can get WI-FI access pretty much anywhere! So right now I am sitting in the kohvik Metro within walking distance from my dorm and type these words.

Since I still have two weeks left until my study starts, I will use this time to get myself familiar with both the city and the language. Right now, I can already order beer and coffee (essential being a student!) and I have made a long walk around the city centre and found interesting spots worth taking a picture, as soon as I got my memory card issue solved.

Okay, that’s all for now. Stay tuned and for all those who haven’t done the SOCIALVIBE activity on this blog: Give it a shot! It’s worth doing and will only take up 3 minutes 🙂


Being in Tallinn – first impressions (including match report: Estonia – Faroe Islands!)

So, here I am, having slept 15 hours after one long day travelling to Estonia yesterday! I haven’t seen too much so far since I spent most of my time sleeping but the few impressions I got so far are stunning! The old town still looks like a snapshot from the medieval times and foster that impression, the market at Pikk is covered with stands selling traditional such as wooden cutlery and hats made from sheep wool. Prices are more than moderate (despite the obvious tourism spots) and even though I haven’t even made my way to a supermarket, I have spent very little on groceries. However, with an exchange rate of 15 kronen worth 0,96€, the costs of 10 kronen for 1 beer (in the hostel though)  are considerable disastrous 😉

The city at night is like a re-enactment of medieval living styles, with fire player and celtic music and bright yellow streets lights which illuminate the square!

About the match I watched: Estonia won 2:1 over Faroe Island with two goals in the extra time, which have them just the succesful entry in the 2012 European Championships campaign they needed. With Italy, Slovenia, Serbia and the so-called “Northern Ireland” in the group, booking a ticket to Poland/Ukraine will not be easy. The stadium is fairly nice, with 5,470 spectators dressed in blue. The ban of cigarettes and booze are no obstacles to a joyful evening out. Most likely I will return in October to watch Estonia take on Slovenia! While I saw a team that tried really hard and could have beaten the football no-names Faroe Islands by 6:0,  a lack of precision and a “non-eager-enough” attitude once the opponents scored left a bad impression on the Estonian possibility to qualify.

Before I will finish this post I need to mention something about the lack of pictures presented on this blog: Since I was smart enough to purchase a digital camera with the amazing memory card of 10MB, I could take 1 picture until the memory was full. So I will buy another memory card in Tartu and start including pictures in my posts!

Update 1: I am sitting in the train towards Tartu! 1st class, since that costs like 1,60€ more than the 2nd 🙂 I am getting free snacks served at my table and can use the (regardless to mention) free Wi-Fi! Trains from the outside look like the Cold War never ended but once you approach the railroad car,  warm and friendly atmosphere is striking you!


Arrival in Riga, Latvia: Hot, sweaty but boy, what a coffee!

Just landed in Riga, Latvia from where my journey to Estonia will continue. In Bremen, I had to pay the ridiculous amount of 50,00€ for the 6 kilograms I had packed extra 🙂 Flight was easy-going and now I am waiting inside the airport for my 12 o´clock coach towards Tallinn, Estonia`s sparkling capital, which will hold the title “European Capital of Culture” in 2011. In Tallinn I am planning to stay for two nights, eventually watching semi-pro European football and getting used to the country, culture and language.

But right now, I am simply enjoying a good mug of coffee, purchased with an excitingly new currencies (which name I have already forgotten!)

Update 1: Got on the coach at the bus station. Included in the fare is a bottle of water and studentu brokastis!

Update 2: Despite only being applicable to the taxis, but I feel quite “home” already: They have yellow license plates…

Update 3: Crossed the Latvian-Estonian border some minutes ago! Estonian border control checked our passports, so business as usual!


Hepatitis A + B, Typhus and Yellow Fever – Vaccinations in preparation

  • Hepatitis A + B
  • Diphtheria
  • Yellow Fever
  • Poliomyelitis

I could keep adding potential threats to this list for ever and ever. When I first checked what vaccinations I might need for both Liberia and Estonia, I found myself reading about all possible attacks of ticks to your body. So in order to be fully prepared, of course I have to get every protection available and without doubts Liberia is situated in an area where more is needed than in Estonia.

However, this is where it becomes tricky. Hepatitis A + B vaccinations cannot be done in one go. I have to get three shots, each with a gap of 6 weeks in between. Now, I have very little experience in the Estonian hospitals (yet!) so I rather want to get my second shot some time in September (when back in Germany for a few days), which only leaves me 1 specific day.

Now something off topic: I am flying in 6 days! 6! I will spend two days in Tallinn and then make my way to my new dorm, which apparently only costs €67ish + utilities per month! I would say that is “so totally awesome”, but since I do not like that word, I’d rather consider “ass-kickin”!

This will be my last entry on German soil for quite a while!I will update once Estonia is kicking in…