alexander (26), graduate student from tbilisi, georgia
The University of Tartu is determined to move forward and develop
After the MA degree in EU-Russia studies, a job offer has pushed Alexander to stay in Tartu, and today he celebrates his sixth year in Estonia. Surprised by the Estonian love for pizza with pineapple, and committed to study the local language, Alexander appreciates the academic and working environment that Estonia offers.
Alexander moved to Estonia in 2011. After graduating from his bachelor studies, he looked for master's programme and scholarships, and eventually found the programme he wanted to study. He learned about the Estonian university through one of his friends, who was studying in Tartu at that time. He is currently working at the University of Tartu. "The University is determined to move forward and develop" says Alexander, pointing out that this is one of the aspects that he appreciates the most. "Things work more effectively in the university here" he admits comparing the Estonian academic system with the one where he previously studied. The efficiency of services and the ease of communication, according to the young Georgian, are distinctive characters of the institute and of Estonia itself. Also, the ease of doing business here and the common use of online services to spread and find information are determining factors to entice young foreigners deciding to remain in the country.
When it comes to the difficulties of moving from the home country, obtaining the right documents to stay can be the most challenging aspect for some, especially if they come from a non European state. This was not the case of Alexander, who received the Temporary Residence Permit without any problems and enjoys his life in Europe travelling around when winter approaches Estonia.
I find it a little depressing staying here in winter. I miss sun!
Despite the weather, he cannot name any dislike about Estonia, he is interested in its history, culture and social life, of which he has experienced a lot. "I think it is necessary and respectful to check out the history and tradition of the host country" says Alexander, who understands Estonian identity as the result of the country's historical past: "It is very strong and unified. Estonians managed to stand together and move forward towards a better future." The most admirable aspects of locals, he admits, are their determination and good will.
Despite this they can be more silent and individualistic, I find Estonians more hardworking and determined than in my home country, and I appreciate it.
Although, he mainly hangs out with foreigners and for that reason sometimes Alexander feels socially excluded, he tries to integrate into Estonian society by learning the local language. As he explains, the knowledge of Estonian language is useful for those people who are willing to settle in the country and find a job, because "it opens doors to better communication and opportunities". Moreover, he noticed that local people appreciate when foreigners try to speak Estonian.
Being a foreigner in a country does not necessarily means being different or drawing lines between themselves and others. Along with this thought, when asked if he feels to be different from Estonians, he answered: "I believe in societies coming together working on common problems. I do not find a difference in perceiving the world as such. I may have different academic, political, theoretical or practical views. However, I believe, that is not related to the differences between nationalities."