Daniele in Estland – Bericht

Estonia: anonymous at first, unique by now
I am really, really glad to have been an EVS volunteer in the Estonian countryside for the past ten months. My lifestyle in the secluded village crucially changed, as calmness and contentment pervaded my everyday actions. At the time of writing, it’s only been two days since my return: I’ve yet to adjust to Vienna’s frenzy. A peaceful life didn’t equate with indolence though; I worked in a youth centre, as well as at two kindergartens, thus constantly surrounded by children and youngsters. These lucky kids could enjoy our endless offer of activities, some of which I carried out myself. But it was from the daily life, from simply playing and talking with them, that I learnt so much. And in general, from the daily life I discovered a lot about this cosy country and its tranquil people. Having spent most of my life in Italy I stumbled upon numerous unusual, interesting or amusing little things and behaviours of the Estonian; we are rather different folks. I won’t bother with the very typical differences about food, weather or appearances; instead I’ll focus on some random thoughts and realisations that occurred to me. Let’s start with a doubt I had even before arriving… You see, the concept of big and small varies too from country to country, at least when it comes to settlements. In Italy a few thousand inhabitants really don’t feel like much at all. So before moving to a small village I was honestly worried: will I even find a supermarket or a food shop? Well, it turned out there are astonishing five, or six, can’t even keep count. And they’re open until very late, ten in the evening! Even on Sundays… How, why?! Walking home from the store I’d notice something rather delightful: the streets usually sound so quiet and peaceful… You won’t find that easily in Italy: there’s always an open window giving air to the TV or to a lively family discussion. And with spring the songs of uncountable birds delighted my ears. It’s not like I’ve never heard birds singing, but that was truly surreal… It’s so easy to spot them: resting on a tree, pecking on the grass or drinking from the tiny pond in the garden. Cute little creatures. There’s something else you often see in gardens too: a sauna. Owning a sauna sounds like owning a swimming pool to me. And that is not common. Besides, before coming to Estonia I despised even just the thought of a really hot and steamy room… We have enough summer for that, so I never tried one. It’s not like you find one at every corner anyhow. But there I did, and oh Lord, it feels good! Rejuvenating! I’ll miss that in our (not so) cold winters. Something else I’ll miss is the soothing tranquility of the nature surrounding me: forests that at times look like straight out of a fairytale; mysterious bogs, truly breathtaking as I’ve never before witnessed such a landscape; the night sky, so magical and packed with stars… Every painter’s fantasy. Plenty of beauty surrounds us, we just need a genuine eye to appreciate it, be it Estonian, Italian or Austrian… We’re not so different after all. One final thing I just had to mention: the language. It’s so melodious and full of just adorable words, like lumememm, karikakar and ujuja. I’m in love with the Estonian language. Oh, and surely not unrelated, some of the children’s names I encountered are really outstanding. Suvi is deeply beautiful and yet simple, I’d name my daughter like that; Ragnar instead feels out of this world, literally, belonging in the realm of mythology… Which leaves me wondering: were these last ten months just a lovely dream?

volunteering in estland

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