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.
But I benefit a lot from the last volunteer here in Hargla, because Flora is a former classmate and a good friend of mine.
She gave me important contacts and told me crucial tips for my time in Estonia.
So I was good to go but unfortunately I couldn’t arrive in Riga due to the ubiquitous pandemic nor was there a non-stop flight to Tallinn available. Because of this I eventually arrived in Tallinn shortly after midnight after a stop in Riga. I did the mandatory Corona test and were driven 4 hours to my isolation flat in south Estonia. Big thanks to you, Vallo!
I explored the region a bit and went to a wooden watchtower in the woods...probably the highest point within 200 km. Luckily I did it on the only day in November where the Sun was shining.
After one week I was finally free and got to my flat in Hargla, where I met my flatmate from Portugal who stays till January with me. On the same day I got to the youth centre for the first time and met some of the youngsters I will work with for the next months. The next day they prepared a little party for me with self-made pizza.
My first trip to Valga, the nearest “bigger” city, was already the next weekend.
There I went to a metal concert at the local rock club. But even though the bands were pretty famous in Estonia, there wasn’t that much people.
And if going to a concert isn’t enough for the first weekend in Estonia I also went fishing the following day with the local fishing club. What I knew was that it was supposed to be night fishing. What I didn’t know was what the consequence of fishing at night is. It isn’t just the freezing coldness, which I could figure out on my own, but also the fact that someone will eventually get hungry in the seven hours till midnight. And while the other youngsters ate potato chips, cookies and drank something warm. I was there with my emergency bar and drank water nearly on the prick of converting to ice. Unfortunately we didn’t got our hands on some fish we could bring home.
While the next days were what I think a normal working week, I had something to really look forward to. But first I had to do the traditional cultural evening about Germany in the youth centre. And even though some experts will say “Apfelstrudel” is an Austrian dish, I baked two of them with the youngsters. For this I prepared myself by trying them at home with my grandmother, who was very pleased with the result she saw in the pictures.
On Friday I was invited to the board game night in the youth centre in Valga where I also got third place in a pool tournament. Most importantly on Saturday I was allowed to go hunting with the local hunting group. And even though we didn’t catch anything and the huntsmen said it was the worst day of the year I was completely happy with the experience not least because I got two delicious moose sausages and some wild-boar conserves.
On the last days of the months I went to Tartu with some Volunteers. And I have to admit I was very underwhelmed from the city. I though that a town with such an old university is much more beautiful and has plenty of life in it. But maybe that's just gray and rainy months or my German point of view and for Estonian standards it is a huge city.
On Sunday I additionally went to the local football training, where I met some adults to play football with in the future. I just hope the spring will arrive in Estonia relatively early, because this training-experience was a bit different...on snow.
Zusammengefasst, war es ein guter Start in meinen Freiwilligendienst. Die Esten sagen, der November ist der unangenehmste Monat des Jahres, weswegen meine Ankunft nicht optimal gewählt war. Und mit Blick auf das Wetter und die bereits im Winter befindliche Natur stimmt das auch. Tatsächlich ist der Monat aber nur so schlimm, wie man ihn sich selbst macht. Ich habe so viele neue nette Menschen kennengelernt und so viele neue Erfahrungen gemacht, dass ich keine Zeit hatte einen Winterblues zu verfallen. Vielleicht war der November nicht der schönste Monat für mich, zumindest aber der spannendste.