First off, study abroad is a first for me. I had never been on a plane, had never seen the ocean (or a seagull, of which there are many here) and had never been to a foreign country. So arriving in Estonia not knowing a soul was not only extremely nerve-racking and scary, but exciting and exhilarating to say the least. It’s only been a day, but things are settling in well with everyone and the locals are very welcoming. We’ve learned where to find things around town, started communicating with locals, and have experienced a bit of the Estonian culture with the St. John’s Eve festival last night. If you don’t know what it is, it’s the celebration of the solstice and the change between spring and summer. It’s customary to light a large bonfire and jump over it to avoid bad luck. However, the bonfire last night was a bit too large to jump over.
The night was filled with good drinks, better people, and loud laughs and music. Best of all, the location; Hermann Castle. Located – literally – on the border of Russia. It was a gorgeous view and a surreal experience that really solidified the idea that “Hey! I’m in a foreign country!” as if it hadn’t already sank in. Not to mention, what a view!
We met some great new local friends, who helped with our Russian speaking immensely and spoke better English than we did Russian. They were open to any and all questions we had about the language and the culture. They told us quite a bit about the city of Narva and Estonia in general. They were excited to learn from us about what we thought and what we were doing and were extremely friendly and welcoming in our constant stream of questions for them.
So far, Estonia has been nothing but welcoming. Although things are different from home, it won’t be hard to call this home soon! I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks have in store for us.