Estonian dark winter is a place for self-development and thought creation
Kevin has been living in Estonia since 2012. During these four years, he graduated from Tartu University, found a job and applied to study in the MA program in Tartu. Today, Kevin enjoys life in Estonia attending lectures, playing music, rugby and working for Funderbeam. He is still hesitant about the future, but now he does not hesitate to consider and call Estonia 'my home'.
Having the opportunity to study abroad after graduating from high school in 2011, Kevin made the decision to leave France and move to Estonia. Choosing the Baltic country was not random: he had visited Estonia by chance a couple of years before thanks to some Estonian acquaintances. He attended a bachelor's program in Business Administration at the faculty of Economics in Tartu and graduated in 2016. In the same, year he applied for a master's program in political science, received the scholarship and now is a first-year student of the Democracy and Governance program at the Johan Skytte Institute.
While he was still an undergraduate he already had a job and this was an incentive for him to stay in Estonia after finishing his bachelor studies and apply for another degree in the country. Having a job does not represent an obstacle to Kevin's studies. He works for Funderbeam start-up company, which allows him to have a flexible job with his class-schedule. For him Estonia's work legislation make it easy to combine both.
Among other reasons for him to remain here is how much better the Estonian school system is when compared to the French one. "They are completely different academic systems and I personally prefer the Estonian way as it is more interesting and valuable."
What I like the most about living in this country and what surprises me the most is the level of education of Estonian people. They are all quite educated on average. Oh, and another thing is that Estonia is a super safe country!
The differences between living in Estonia and in France, he says, would take a whole book, but globally it is much safer and more peaceful in Tartu than in Lyon. "Tartu is a community, in which people know and help each other. Lyon, on the contrary, is a big city, where no one knows each other and people only do his or her own business.
Even though he is satisfied with his Estonian life, there is something that he really cannot bear anymore: "I need sun and good weather! The end of the winter and the quality of food is what I dislike the most about living here. I miss French cheese, honestly."
Kevin did not have any social, personal or economic issues. Being French, he does need a visa to study in Estonia; he got the scholarship, so "I am studying for free and life in Estonia is cheaper! Some people move to richer countries to earn more; I moved to a poorer country to pay less!" He does not feel socially excluded even though he does not speak the language. He considers Estonians as true friends because they accepted him as one of their own and he feels comfortable speaking English or Russian. As he points out: people born after 1991 all speak English, those born before it all speak Russian. Whereas he does not want to study Estonian because he does not think it will be useful in his future career, he considers it important and respectful to try to understand a minimum to get to the history and tradition of the host country. In his free time, Kevin takes part in several activities such as playing music and playing rugby with the local team. "I do lots of things around here.
During winter, I play music, record with friends and I also launched my very own podcast, in which I invite people from around the globe to share their experiences! When the springs arrives, I play rugby and teach Estonians my hometown sport.
Kevin feels the difference between himself and the locals. "Estonians have a strong identity and I will say that they are the most European people that I have encountered. I mean they are open to other cultures and admire others. Moreover, the post-Soviet culture stimulates the mindset of 'collaborative common'. They are always willing to help and make you feel at home in their country".
Overall, he is pleased with studies and life in Estonia, which with its dark winter he considers to be a place for self-development and thought creation. He also sees career opportunities here, but for now he cannot say that he will stay in the country forever. "Never say never, but I will always come back! About this, I am 100% sure."