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From Spain to Estonia: impressions of the ECS-project

From Spain to Estonia: impressions of the ECS-project

My name is Candela. I’m from Spain. Now I have been in Tallinn for 6 months already on my ESC project. I went to the project right after leaving school. I go to work in Raasiku, a small village near Tallinn, and I work in three organizations at once: a kindergarten, a youth center, and a culture center. In the center of culture, for example, I do not work with children, but give Spanish lessons to adults.

When I was looking for a project, I chose something related to work in a kindergarten or school, because I wanted to get experience in the field of education, as I want to develop further in this and enter the university for the relevant specialty. Besides, Estonia was on my wishlist. I chose between Estonia, Germany, and Ukraine. In Estonia, I have already been to Erasmus + programs before and I really liked this country.

My project started with a little difficulty, as at first, it was not easy to work with children who do not speak English, but it was not the biggest challenge. Even before the start of the project, in March, we began to call up and work on a plan of activities with the girl, with whom we were to work together in the future in Estonia. Everything was fine, however, some disagreements arose already on the spot and our leaders allowed us to work separately from each other. We have separated all activities and now we do not interact in any way, so I preferred to work separately.

Another interesting situation that arose when I came to the project is the issue of my accommodation. Initially, I had a host family, but after about a month they said that I could no longer live with them without explaining specifically what the reason for this decision was. I think they just did not fully understand how everything would be when a volunteer would live in their house. So I had to move from the village to an apartment in Tallinn with other volunteers, so now I go to work for about an hour every day. It’s pretty exhausting, of course, but I really like living with the guys in the apartment.

The most interesting thing on the project for me was to come up with various games and activities with snow with children because snow is something completely new for me. Sometimes I just didn’t know what else to do with the snow, because I don’t have any skills in this. So I had to work on it.

When I first arrived, I did not feel a very strong language barrier, because in Tallinn many people speak English. But the cultural barrier was felt: here people are very punctual and organized, where I come from, everything is a little different. Also, in the village where I work and originally lived, there are no various cafes or other places where you can relax, spend time and meet someone, so it was difficult to adapt. But now I live in Tallinn, and here everything is fine with that.

Before coming to Estonia, I did not know that the people here are so hardworking. Some have 2 or even 3 jobs. I also really like the bureaucratic system in Estonia. It is much simpler and clearer than in Spain, and the paperwork does not cause any difficulties for me. Estonians are, of course, very different from Spaniards. They are not so noisy and do not violate personal boundaries, everyone is busy with their own business. I really like this. Estonians are much more introverted than Spaniards. At the same time, it seems to me, Estonians are constantly in a hurry somewhere. There are many fast-food restaurants here. There is no such culture as, for example, sitting on a terrace for a long time with coffee or another drink, as in Spain. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to many places in Estonia yet, but in Tallinn, I really like the Old Town and the Pirita area.

If I had a choice again, I would still prefer the project I’m on now. All my expectations were met. I like my job, the communication with the tutor is well built. All the problems that arose at first were solved quite easily and quickly. I also like the country. Compared to Spain, there are softer restrictions due to the coronavirus, and I feel freer. Tallinn is a very multicultural and dynamic city and at the same time comfortable and cozy.

The most important experience that I gained during the project is the skills of independent work. Here I can carry out my ideas and projects. The management supports me in everything and always gives me feedback. It’s feedback, they don’t say what I should do. I think this experience gave me a lot, including an understanding of what I want to do when I return to Spain.

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