Una guarita en proceso de estonización

What’s life like for a Venezuelan in Estonia

Posted on: 16/07/2008

This was written after Jurgen (from Estonia living in Venezuela) asked Luis to give him some impressions about Estonia from us. This is what we gave him:
It is always nice to see the other side of the coin. I have just read the description of your experience in Venezuela and it’s so nice to see our own country from somebody else’s eyes. Especially when the person is from the country I am living in now 🙂
Is our turn to give you a bit of our impressions and way of living in Estonia being Venezuelans.

I think one of the first things we all notice (if you don’t have a car) is the huge difference in the means of transportation. For us is shocking-nicely shocking- to be in a place where you can know not only which bus to take, but when will it pass, in which places it will stop, what are the best routes you can follow and have different kinds of tickets to use it 🙂 Not having to worry for a month about your right to use public transportation because you have a 30 or 90-day ticket that you can buy online or even using your mobile is soooo nice (actually you can also buy coke with your mobile but that’s not as useful as buying your bus ticket).

Life here, compared to the one in Venezuela, is really easy in terms of doing things connected to the government, paper-work and stuff. Is just easy. You want this document? OK – you need this, this and that. You provide it. They say is going to be ready in a week, then is ready in a week. Having an ID card as Luis have, is existing in this country. You can do everything with it! And what’s the most: from your laptop. Of course you have to have Internet…but that’s not a problem because there’s Internet EVERYWHERE -even in some taxi cabs- and for online people like us that’s just paradise.
Another amazing thing that we don’t have in Venezuela is people speaking English almost everywhere. So you don’t actually have to learn the language, as you have to learn Spanish if you go to Venezuela for a year. In Poland, where I was living previously, was not that easy to get free internet or someone speaking English.

The hardest thing I think has to do with the weather. In this side of the world, as I once said while living in Poland, everything is about the weather. Is amazing to be able to enjoy different seasons…it makes you appreciate certain things more -and by this I mean THE SUN!- So , yes, the hardest of all is winter. You have to dress before going out putting so many things on your body that you feel like your going to war. Besides the basic stuff -which don’t include garments that let see a single part of your body- you have to wear a collection of things to survive out there: scarf, winter cap, gloves, boots (real boots!) another pair of gloves, a sweater, another sweater, a coat…and you’ll still feel cold!!! The transition between a season an another can be very annoying. Autumn winter for instance is rainy, windy and cold. But a beautiful thing about these, for instance, are the colors. Actually, every season has its special and beautiful colors. The golden trees in autumn, the celestial white in winter, the very very very light green of new leaves in spring and the endless colors of flowers and the shiny world in summer. We still have to survive our second winter, it’s supposed to be a bit depressing because the snow and everything that comes with this season is not new anymore, but we’ve talked with a lot of people and I think we are prepared for it (or at least we believe so :P)

Besides the way you dress and the colors, the seasons also affect the life in the city. During the summer, places like bars, restaurants and cafés have tables and chairs outdoors, so people can sit and enjoy the sun (and the prices raise around 30%). Many people goes to work biking. Everyone goes like crazy and start taking sunbaths in the middle of a park in their swimming suits, and run and jog and walk their dogs and babies and everyone is just out there. Luis’ life in the office is also different, basically because every project stops and most of the office is empty, why? everyone is on vacations. But during the cold seasons all of these stuff change so you have to find the best ways to learn how to enjoy life indoors. If there’s snow is different. Everything looks kinda clean and nice…but once snow starts melting is a mess. Indoors, when you visit someone or simply get home, you take off your shoes at the entrance. So we always know our friends type of socks, because in every meeting in a house people will walk around in their socks. If they don’t, then they’ll ruin the floor with all the dirty and wet clothes from outside, and you also have to do this in the office, Luis has a pair of sandals there, so basically there is a big closet for everyone in the company and you can leave your winter jacket (a huge thick wet jacket) and your boots (big wet boots) there.

People is another different issue. People in this side of the world sometimes seem to be too serious, too shy, too disciplined, or too something that always means: no talking to strangers, no looking into the eyes, no smiling..no, no, no. You do find nice people, but it takes a while to discover it. Is not like your going to start talking to the person sitting next to you on a public bus about what the president said in his last TV program or anything…you just follow your way. You don’t stop or distract anyone, no one stops or distracts you. For Luis, his main contact with real Estonians (not open minded @ers nor foreigners) is when he goes to the office, people is very very shy and quiet if they don’t know each other, even if you share the same room for 3 months the place can be very quiet, his American friend calls his room “The library”, and they are the only ones making noise in there. But after 6 months sharing the place with them and after a few integration activites (bowling, yatching, summer days, business trips) you get to see that the people is nice and friendly but all you have to do is to give them some time to get to know you (a few beers can accelarate the process also).

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