ignacio (26), BA translation student from buenos aires, argentina
Taking part in social events
is the best way to integrate into Estonian society
Coming from Argentina, after few years of travelling around the world, Ignacio found in Estonia a place where he can feel at home; a safe place that offers almost everything: snow, sunshine, forest, sea, comfort, technology and the chance to hold a conversation in four languages. Many reasons to stay, good will to learn and no plans to go. This is the story of a young Argentinian student.

Ignacio lives in Tallinn and speaks seven languages. "It is all about being smart, I think. And study, of course. I studied hours and hours by myself to get to this point." Today, he studies translation at the University of Tallinn, which he came to know thanks to a friend few years ago, and it has already been two years since he moved to the Estonian capital. Before taking the decision to settle in Estonia, Ignacio travelled a lot around the world, but "at one point" he says "you decide to stop somewhere and I tried to find a place where I would feel more or less at home." His choice fell on Estonia for many reasons.
I come from Argentina, which capital is very insecure. I chose Tallinn because it is very safe and it offers quite a lot. I like that it is very small and comfortable, you can walk everywhere, you do not even need a car!
"Also, I like that there are different types of scenario: from the Old Town to forests and beaches. I like languages as well, and I like that there are many foreigners. Moreover, I speak Russian as many people living in Tallinn do, so it is a great opportunity for me living here."

Among the languages he speaks, there is also Estonian. "I have a B1, almost B2 and that is enough to allow me to work and walk around", he says, "I like it even though it is a very difficult language and it takes a lot of time to learn it, but that is what I do. I can speak 4 languages in one day and this is exciting for someone that likes languages!" According to Ignacio, who started learning the language by taking Estonian classes and later decided to study it through self-teaching, it is necessary, more than useful, to being able to speak the local language to live here, especially if the plan is to settle in Estonia. And Ignacio seems to have clear ideas about his near future. "I want to stay and find a job. I want to work as a trainer in the gym, but for that you need to speak Estonian fluently."

The main challenge Ignacio faced moving to the Baltics was to create connections with the local people, but as soon as he started to speak Estonian he admits: "everything kind of switched and it opened many doors to me." Given that not too many foreigners are willing to study the local language, the fact that he was making efforts to learn it made the locals more friendly to him and as he says "it socially helped me a lot, because they could see I was seriously trying to get involved."

While improving his Estonian language skills and attending classes at the University of Tallinn, Ignacio finds time for a few jobs. In his "free time", the young Argentinian teaches English and works at a modeling agency. "Combining them is complicated because of the random time schedule of my classes, which does not give me time to get an 8 hour per-day job" he declared. Therefore, he found jobs that can fit his schedule and from which he can earn, "I can easily handle my students according to my time table, and I work in the modeling agency in the evening, when I'm usually off from university. And oh, I run pub crawls as well."

Ignacio's life is not only about classes and jobs, he really enjoys Estonian social life. He takes part in many social events organised by the Estonian community, such as the Viljandi folk festival, because he strongly believes that being involved in their social and cultural activities is part of the integration process.
Taking part in their social events is part of becoming more like one of them, and when locals see foreigners participating and absorbing the local culture, they seem to be very grateful for that.
His efforts to come closer to Estonian culture, history and identity have made him understand and appreciate this people even more. "First, when people asked me why I moved to Estonia, I started to tell how nice is this place, how cute are the girls etc. But now, I really think they have a rich culture, and a suffered history. They are people who suffered and fought, but they are still here and this is something to be proud of and to admire."
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