So, like most things I do this second post is pushing late (I am a master procrastinator). As a UNM exchange student (not direct enrollment) it’s required to take an online class to maintain your enrollment status, and although my online class isn’t too work-intensive, I figured out that with the time difference (9 hours before mountain time) I can wake up at 8 AM the day after something is due and have an hour to get it turned in before the 11:59 PM deadline. If that’s not illustrative of my habits I don’t know what is.
Anyway, hopefully the evidence of my current reality- living and attending University in Estonia- can serve as proof to anyone who might doubt whether they are ready or prepared or responsible enough to try something like this: if it’s possible for me, it’s possible for you.
These past few weeks settling into my new dorm, classes, and city have been a mix of exciting, surprising, and frustrating. There have been many things like applying for my visa, figuring out how to get the credits I need, and scheduling trips for further on in the semester that have been complicated and often times not the most straight forward operations. However even I, with my scatterbrained and overly complicated tendencies, have managed to not screw anything up too badly yet. Being an exchange student is kinda like being a freshman all over again except the new university isn’t laid out to meet your needs and requirements. It definitely takes a bit more initiative and work to make sure you can reach the requirements of the old university while working within a new system. By far the best thing I have done when encountering an obstacle has been asking whoever I can find the best thing to do. This has included asking other exchange students, my exchange “buddy” which the Erasmus network here sets up, and assorted members of the faculty especially in the student union and mobility office that deals with exchange. Oftentimes everyone is really willing to help and even if after the fourth visit in as many days they seem annoyed, they still help.
Although my transition to the new university hasn’t been the smoothest, and the number of cards in my wallet seems to have tripled, I definitely feel like I have learned a lot about adjusting to a new environment and system. In between rushing to the Police and Border Guard and getting lost on my new campus I’ve managed to enjoy the especially vibrant exchange student social life in Tallinn. Most of that falls under the Erasmus student network (European exchange students but international students come too) which in Tallinn has a very active club. Here and in many cities across Europe the Erasmus student network (ESN) arrange events in pubs, clubs, day trips, and also some longer trips. I highly recommend hooking up with these events (usually info is on Facebook, just search Erasmus and the city), because exchange students are a good place to look for open and adventurous people. I came here to learn about Estonia, but living with, sharing classes with, and so far socializing with students from all over the globe has turned this into a truly multinational experience. Although I hope to make more Estonian connections in the future, learning about and experiencing an unfamiliar culture and country with students from all over the world that happen to all find themselves in one place brings a multitude of new identities, perspectives, and unexpected commonalities to the equation.