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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.

First of all, I should mention that; Mediterranean people are a little more warm and friendly. For this reason, I had a hard time here at the beginning. Most of the children do not speak English. My second strong reason to learn Estonian. The children had to get used to me, they had to get to know me and be willing to communicate with me. Therefore, I decided to start my planned cartoon activity in the new year. During this period, I painted a portrait of a child from the youth center every day, children who were interested in painting tried to communicate, and there were people who wanted me to draw them. It has been a colorful way to start communication. In this process, I also thought that I could get to know them closely. For example, the style of communication and the games they are interested in are different. As I discovered these differences, I realized that we started to understand each other, especially as we could say the basic things in Estonian.

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WhatsApp_Image_2020-12-14_at_12.42.47_AM.jpegThanks to my volunteering experience at the Tõrva Open Youth Center, I learned to play billiards from children with a degree in tournaments. We have played table tennis many times, it is also possible to play various card games. In Tõrva Open Youth Center, there are many games that will improve children's personal development, manual skills, language skills and vocabulary.

My favorite activity is the Stop Motion Animation event organized by Meeta on Thursdays. Meeta is a supportive and friendly teacher. It is luck for a person to encounter a good teacher in his life. :) After a small fish animation, we planned to make an animation with the concept of corona virus with other children and this may raise awareness about the current global epidemic. We have completed the drawings, the shots are short;

Now I'll talk a little bit about my trips. In Estonia, the forest covers a large area, although it is not a mountainous and rugged country. The intertwining of living space and nature is refreshing. I went for a walk in the forest, took pictures of the lake. Vanamõisa lake and Riiska lake are two important lakes that make Tõrva beautiful. We can say that Vanamõisa Lake has the highest diving platform with 11 meters, which is the favorite of summer. Whenever you want, you can take a short walk in the forest or watch the stars by the lake at night. 😊

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We watched the New Year celebrations that started in Valga city center on November 29 with other volunteer friends. The weather was so cold that the mulled wine went very well. It was the first time I witnessed Estonian traditional music, the melodies sung with the traditional musical instrument and the dance of the dance group were a new impression for me in every sense. I also share my experiences that impressed me in Estonia on instagram “brokenrecord.art”  and on my youtube channel (Ayşegül AKSAKAL)

The city I wanted to see soon was Tartu. It is another weekend and we young volunteers went out to explore Tartu. The Christimas market concept in downtown Tartu was interesting. You can feel the medieval architecture in the streets. It is possible to see narrow cobblestone streets, small stone sculptures somewhere, and medieval towers rising to the sky.

In addition, you can catch many clues about the architectural structure and artistic understanding of that country in religious buildings. During our church visit, I had the opportunity to take photos and videos with the permission of the responsible people. The people who came there had a mystical and pessimistic air in direct proportion to their purpose. My aim was to be exposed to the life of this country in all respects without prejudice. I think this will make it easier for me to learn the Estonian language.

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 TheBotanical Garden, which I think will be colorful again in the spring, was a large garden built on various plants grown in Estonia. We took pleasant photos by the lake, among the trees.

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KGB Cells Museum, where you can witness Estonia's struggle for independence, impressed me very much. This formation, which serves the Soviet Union as an intelligence and secret service, is the State Security Committee. The KGB Cells Museum is a branch of the Tartu City Museum. It was an informative museum of the history of the Estonian Resistance Movement and items used to punish the crimes of the communist regime. It was somewhat terrifying to witness the evidence of a society's suffering for its independence, regardless of country.

Finally, the Rock Club activity we attended with friends in Valga was enjoyable. An old-looking building from the outside, a middle-aged man who cuts tickets unrelated to rock: D, and tree skeletons, crow figures, an indoor piano, electric guitars ... We listened to Estonian rock culture pieces from the rock band "Pööloy Gläänz".

Discovering all aspects of Estonia with new friends from different cultures makes me feel alive. No matter how difficult it may be, living a culture in its place, learning to live in different frequencies by adapting to differences in every sense improves me. As time goes by, life here will become more enjoyable, I'm sure. In Estonia, the coldness that I initially felt in people can be replaced by sincerity. :) You just need to take some time.

In my next blog, I will see you with the colorful cartoon activities we do with children and my Estonian language skills that I learned a little more. Development and change with you. 😊

(Arkadaşlar, gönüllülük deneyimi insanı evrensel düşünemeye iten, öğretirken öğrenmenize olanak tanıyan ve en önemlisi farklı kültürden insanlarla paylaşımda bulunabileceğiniz uluslararası bir program. Estonya ise hem tarihten birçok ülkenin izlerini taşıyan hem de kendi kültürünü yaşatan komplex bir ülke olarak bu deneyimi yaşamaya değer.)

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