It would be impossible to come from anywhere in the US (except Alaska) to northern Europe and not notice that you’ve been robbed of daylight. Gradually all of a sudden I started going to class just as it was getting light (around 9) and leaving just as dusk was falling (3:30ish — or 15:30 as we like to say in Europe haha). Evenings feel extremely long and the excessive darkness really just makes me wanna sleep all the time. I think if I lived here permanently I would just go into hibernation during wintertime, but as an exchange student it’s my prerogative to try and do absolutely everything I can while I’m here. Being in Estonia for only four months is too much time to consider it as traveling (despite making all the weekend trips I can manage) but it’s also too short a period to feel like I have time to see everything. It has been hard to find a balance between being able to travel and enjoy the social life in Tallinn while also studying and not trying to fit in too much… It definitely is and continues to be a learning experience.
Besides going to the christmas market in the center square of Tallinn and exploring new parts of the city, being in Tallinn has provided a lot of opportunities to take weekend trips to the surrounding countries. I’ve recently been on short trips to Helsinki, Stockholm and – currently – Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It’s been so interesting to see the different cities and the ease of travel in Europe continues to be a revelation to me. Ferries, buses, and even plane flights can be ridiculously cheap if you find the right ones and before you know it you’re in a completely different country with a new language, currency, and a whole new set of churches to explore! (The churches thing is pretty accurate – they’re often some of the prettiest/ most interesting places to visit in a city and I don’t think I ever expected to visit so many!) I’m writing most of this blog on an overnight bus to Vilnius, and I just looked out the window to see snow! Actual, proper snow is lining the roads finally! I say finally because it sprinkled snow in October, falsely leading me to believe that I would soon be romping through life in the snow the way only a girl from the sunny California coast would dream about. Although it hasn’t snowed much it’s super duper cold and just casually walking around outside makes my face, ears, and hands feel like they might fall off.
Anyway despite wondering how easy it is to get hypothermia on a pretty regular basis and a new habit of popping vitamin D pills (I really just take one a day if I remember), I’ve managed to resist the draw of winter hibernation. As my exchange semester draws towards the fun part of finals and organizing to leave, I can’t help but wish I had more time to spend with the friends I’ve made here and and travel through more of this city, this country, and this part of Europe. I can’t wait for these next few weeks though! (Except for my finals, those are not much more fun here than they are anywhere)