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138843946_423009788901196_3596374061685390355_n.jpgThe beginning of December is always the opening to a fabulous time of the year. That also applied to Estonia, Hargla and the Youth Center. While I had an advent calendar with sweet cookies or gingerbread when I was young, the youngsters in Hargla had a different activity focused around Christmas every day to up to the 24th this year. We obviously started with decorating the rooms on the first days but the most fun activities for the kids and me were when we made a traditional German advent wreath and birdseed cookies.

And while I thought for my whole life handcrafting a wreath is a pure display of skill, I again encountered the magics of the modern time. The World wide web. There are tons of people just eager to tell you how to do it. So some youngsters and I put on our jackets and got out into the snowy area in front of the youth center to gather some green. Thinking about this I’m sure a was just minutes away from my hands dying because of the freezing temperatures, while the kids with me started to open their jackets because it apparently was too warm for them…

1th_photo.jpgIt was strange to learn that the Youth Center would be closed for 3 weeks from December 14th. Because I have been volunteering for 2,5 weeks. To be honest, although I have just started working at the Youth Center, it will annoying not to be able to see the children for 3 weeks due to the corona. Besides, there were tasks that Madis gave me.

Although the youth center was closed, I had to continue my volunteering work at home, outside or at the youth center. It was really difficult to do all the planning for each task alone. Because open-ended plans and activities where you can definitely use your creativity.. I saw what I can do thanks to Madis. 😀 I will tell you how I had a pleasant time in Estonia despite the new bans due to Korono. Are you ready?! Let's go! .. 😀

IMG_20201225_151128.jpg…that’s what I sadly realized this month. While at the beginning everything was fine and I enjoyed my new freedom of not being locked in like in Austria, the middle of December had a surprising turn. Since Corona cases rose in Estonia, not only schools but also youthcenters had to close. Oh no, what should I do now? I was a bit disappointed because I already looked forward to Christmas time to make some cool Christmas craftings with the kids. Also, I wanted to prepare an Austrian Christmas celebration and cook something traditional.

Well, at least in the beginning of December we were able to bake Gingerbread and some typical Austrian Christmas cookies called “Vanillekipferl”, before we had to close. Honestly, I was confused if I would have to stay in “homeoffice” now, but luckily, I got the chance of working in Valga Youthcenter. There were no kids either, but many cool youthworkers instead and a lot of things to do. While on the first days I had to create some emoji quizzes and posters for the youthcenter’s facebook page, the next tasks were more of physical work, since we intended to renovate the house by scratching off paint (and pieces of the wall (lol)). The week before Christmas we started a project, which I really enjoyed: We made Christmas presents for old, lonely inhabitants of Valga. 

I set foot in Estonia on the night of 10 November. I started wandering freely in the streets of Tõrva on 24 November. I'm Ayşegül. 22 years old and I come from Turkey. I am volunteer at Tõrva Open Youth Center. Every experience I have had in this country that I have never dreamed of coming to is a first in my life. I am fascinated by the culture, human relations, language, history and geography I am in. I will try to explain all aspects of Estonia from my own perspective, including my first impression, my volunteer experiences, the places I visited. :)

During the 2-week quarantine period, I settled in my house. I studied in Estonian. Frankly, I haven't tried to learn from scratch for a long time. Since it is an agglutinative language, it has similar word and sentence features with Turkish. Nevertheless, it is a bit difficult to notice the attachments, learn the rules and form sentences according to the people. Learning a new language in a country where it is spoken as a mother tongue is worth it. Being able to communicate with children in Estonian is one of my most important personal goals for me to learn this language :) In addition, I did some research about Estonian lifestyle, cultural influences, cold winter months, places to visit.

Hej!
That was the first Estonian word I looked up. I learned it even before coming to Estonia and back then I though the language isn’t that different compared to German.
Oh boy, was I wrong!

While packing my suitcases for the flight I was surprised that I was that calm, but all the emotions and fears unleashed themselves on the last two nights I spent home in Germany. My biggest fear regarding my nearly 9 months future home was not getting in touch with other people especially around my age.

…that was my first thought sitting in my new appartement, after a rather difficult journey containing hours of waiting at the airport to finally get the Corona-Test- Sticks pushed in my nose. Ouch.

Arriving in my flat was different than I’ve expected, because Vallo, the nice guy who picked me up, told me I’d be the first volunteer this season and therefore I’ll have to live alone for a while. For me, this was the first time not having anyone else around and I felt a bit lonely and sad, because I thought  I’d never find some new friends here. Spoiler Alert: Luckily, I was wrong haha.

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