Living in Ida-Virumaa, the Estonian language became superfluous and even English has more practical value
Regina, raised in Narva, learned Estonian at school with great pleasure. However, when she was 20 and the first opportunity to speak the language in real life came across, she panicked. Being a Russian language teacher in an Estonian school in Tartu, she, like no one else understands, how language that is supposed to unite people draws a dividing line between them.
Narva is famous for the fact that people outside Ida-Virumaa, are afraid to travel there. Narva has close ties with Russia, so many citizens travel to neighboring Ivangorod quite often to buy gas and goods which are two times cheaper. I think residents of Narva are, to a great extent, Europeans and share European values more than citizens of Russia.
My first year in school I started to learn Estonian and liked it very much. I think that resistance to learning this language appears because it's imposed on students, while they do not see the importance of knowing it. Once one of our experimental classes made an attempt to switch the language of instruction for history classes from Russian to Estonian. For 5th grades students, it caused a lot of stress. They spent more time translating textbooks, and learning paragraphs by heart, rather than learning the actual subject. It was more a punishment than motivation to study Estonian.
I graduated from school when I was 20 years old and suddenly realised that I have never spoken Estonian outside the classroom.
I graduated from school when I was 20 years old and suddenly realised that I have never spoken Estonian outside the classroom. I haven't heard it anywhere around me, in public places or in the stores. After finishing school most of my classmates moved to Tallinn or abroad. Living in the capital city, they can speak both Russian and English and do not feel the need to speak Estonian. There are a lot of international companies, especially in IT, that switched to using English as a working language and essentially do not use the official state language.
I'm a Russian language teacher in a local school in Tartu. For my students Russian is obligatory. They don't see any practical value or benefits from learning it; therefore they do not put a lot of effort into studying. Even though kids start to learn Russian during the sixth grade, by the end of their school career they can barely keep a simple conversation going. Only those who have ongoing practice with relatives or friends are able to speak at a sufficient level.
Here in Tartu, one rarely hears Russian. When I had just moved here I was panicking because I was barely able to speak Estonian. After school I was planning on becoming a psychologist, but when I applied for the faculty of psychology at the University of Tartu I did not pass. During the entrance interview I could not speak Estonian at a sufficient level as was required. Therefore, my second option was the faculty of Russian philology where it is possible to study in the Russian language. Some graduates from Russian schools have problems while applying for programs in the Estonian language. For instance, a friend of mine had rough time studying high mathematics in Estonian. However, sometimes the professors allowed them to use English language materials.
Many years ago I was considering moving to Moscow. Therefore when I had an opportunity to do a study abroad exchange I went to Moscow State University. As a linguist I noticed a language difference between the Russians in Moscow and Estonia. In conversation I heard certain phrases that we normally do not use here. Of course, there are cultural differences between us as well. After living in Russia's capital I realised that I don't want to leave Estonia. It is inconceivable for me to live in such a giant city and spent half a day commuting somewhere by subway. I did not want to get used to such a stressful lifestyle.
I'm still unable to answer questions about my personal nationality or belonging to a motherland.
I'm still unable to answer questions about my personal nationality or belonging to a motherland. Moreover, I have not changed my passport yet and remain stateless. Plus, it is more convenient to have a visa-free travel to Russia.
Many Some people have stopped considering themselves Russians any more. It's a personal choice and it's quite natural if you want to become part of Estonian society. I don't personally feel at home in Russia, however it is quite difficult to feel really great here in our country where a quarter of the population is not welcomed. From time to time I happened to be in the situations where the response to the Russian language is demonstrative silence. To a greater extent it affects the older generation of Russian who do not speak any Estonian. It is quite difficult to call a country a motherland where we are shown that we are not welcomed here.