EP: Worldwide

Helena Nömmik (21) from the Estonian capital of Tallinn studies Journalism at the University of Tartu and is now studying International Communication and Media (ICM) at the Hogeschool of Utrecht (HU) for one year. Karin Tein (23), also from Tallinn, is a fifth year student of Pharmacy at the University of Tartu and is currently taking the English-taught programme of Pharmaceutical Business Administration at the HU.

Helena: “When I was in Amsterdam for the first time two years ago, I met some Dutch people in the Rijksmuseum with whom I had some really wonderful conversations about the Dutch and Estonian societies. Estonia has only been independent for eighteen years, whereas the Netherlands has such a long and rich history. That is why I thought it would be fantastic to study here.”

Karin: “For me, it was quite complicated to include an international year in my programme. However, I really wanted to study abroad very much. In the end I had two options: Helsinki, which is 85 kilometers north of Tallinn, or Utrecht. I did not have to think twice.”

Did you find it hard to adjust to the Dutch way of living?

Helena: “The Netherlands and Estonia are worlds apart. Their mentalities are very different. It took me some time to get used to the straightforward attitude of the Dutch. In Estonia, it is not done to say that you dislike something for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.”

Karin: “I was surprised at the way Dutch students relate with their teachers. In Estonia, we raise our hands and address our teachers by their titles and last names. Here, teachers are addressed by their first names.”

Helena: “I felt at home here very quickly because I met a lot of international students at the parties and excursions of the Erasmus Students Network, one of whom is Karin. We hit it off immediately and we have become very good friends.”

Karin: “I had a hard time in the beginning. When I just got here, I lived in a room in Overvecht and had a very peculiar roommate, a man of fifty who said he was 28. I did not trust him and started looking for a new room, which was not easy. Since February, I have been living in the Voorstraat, where I feel much more comfortable.”