So 6,5 months of living in Tallinn nearly passed. It was faster than I expected. I still think that 6,5 months are more than enough to verify some stereotypes about Estonia and Estonians that I could hear before, but I was not sure how true is that. So, how do I feel about Estonia after a few months?
1. You can leave your winter clothes in your wardrobe in the middle of April
That is absolutely false. Need a proof? Ok, here are 2 pictures. First one is from today, heavy rain and +2 degrees Celsius. Second one – from Sunday. Temperature more or less the same and it was snowing. The weather changes really rapidly and weather forecasts are not really accurate.
Btw – my winter clothes are not with me… oh well ;-)
2. Estonians are slow
Actually it’s true, but not because of what you think and it’s absolutely not a bad thing. They just seem to walk slowly, not to rush for anything, when they miss the bus they rather do not run behind it and instead they just wait for another one, the drivers would always stop before the crossroad, sometimes the bus or tram would wait for you if the driver sees you walking (happened to me several times) and so on and so on and so on. Maybe this peaceful lifestyle is something that we should adapt in the rest of Europe?
Btw – I found one very funny comment on some forum. Someone commented that Estonians are slow and the reply was “Ok, so Estonia is an Internet Explorer of all the nations?” :)
If you don’t know what I mean, take a look:
3. People do not sit next to each other in public transport
Now that is false. Of course, people prefer to take a double seat just all by themselves, but there seems to be an unwritten rule that if you sit on the one next to the alley – you show that you don’t want anyone sitting next to you. Some of the people put their bags on the second seat and kind of show that they feel intimidated in sharing the seat. However if all the double seats are taken, people would not stand, they would just sit next to you without any troubles. I actually prefer to stand in public transport, but in 99% of cases when I sit, there is a person who would sit next to me. In other words – Estonians might not be so happy that you intimidated their private space, but they would not mind if you sat next to them in the bus.
4. Everyone eats Kohuke
Definitely there are some people who eat Kohuke, but can I say that everyone does it? I think – no. I am not a big fan of Kohuke that is a local curd snack covered in chocolate and looking more or less like that:
I know that in every supermarket there are many different types and tastes of Kohuke – people surely buy it and I even saw some pieces in the fridge at my office. So it’s surely popular. It actually so popular that you can also find it in Poland, yet – not in so many different varieties.
5. Estonians never smile
Probably the most important part. Estonians actually do smile, but they are very much reserved when you meet them. So do not expect the smile of the cashier, randomly met person on the street or any other person who you just met. The best example is the receptionist who works in my office building. She started smiling to me when I entered only after 2 months of my work there.
This does not mean Estonians are rude – they are absolutely not. Some of them are extremely polite yet also extremely unemotional. That is the way it works here. And btw – lack of eye contact when you speak with someone does not mean they don’t respect you or don’t listen to you – that’s normal here.
All in all, Estonia is a very interesting country but it might be a big cultural shock for most of the people to stay here longer. But after you get used to things here, everything runs very well! Now I am a bit worried about a reverse cultural shock when I get back to Poland :)