I have posted a few of the many pictures I have taken while here in Tallinn, Estonia. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people and I have already had the opportunity to explore so many things! However, it is definitely true that Tallinn is quite the opposite of Albuquerque, and I have experienced what many people call “culture shock.”
Upon arriving, culture shock was not immediate. I did not find Tallinn to be that different from the United States or Canada. Most Estonians I met spoke English. Also, Estonians drive on the same side of the street as Americans (I just recently learned that typically only the countries that used to be British colonies drive on the left side of the road), and they dress very similar to Americans also. The biggest initial shock for me was actually learning to adjust to living with three other roommates in a dormitory. However, after about one week of living in Estonia the culture shock really began to set in. I discovered that there are hardly any public restrooms in Estonia and you have to pay for any that you may be able to find. I also learned that public transportation is excellent and very speedy but if you do not get inside the bus in time the doors will close on you, and that there are no such things as water-fountains here.
I learned that culture shock does not happen all at once and it is usually triggered by small things such as finding milk in bags in the grocery store, or learning that Estonian supermarkets usually only sell notebooks with graph paper since Estonians only use graph paper for taking notes. I also found myself experiencing culture shock when realizing that many older Estonians do not speak any English. The only way for me to describe the feeling of culture shock is that you feel completely out of place. It is the realization that not everyone is like you and that different people in different parts of the world do things very differently. It is a very humbling experience and I would recommend it to anyone.