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How to Adjust to Foreign Cultures and Lifestyles; An International Student Perspective About Estonia – Bello Hakeem Kolade

There are lots of cultural and lifestyle differences between Nigeria and Estonia. You need the help of people; both locals and foreigners as much as possible. Five major ways of adaptations are highlighted and discussed below.

1) CULTURAL HERITAGE (HISTORY): Right from your country of residence, it is important for you to search and learn about the cultural heritage of Estonia, the lifestyle of Estonians in general and also you may also have to learn about the culture of Estonia neighbouring countries as well. These includes but not limited to Russia, Finland, Latvia and others. Naturally in this side of Europe, people tend to be more of introverts when it comes to relating with foreigners’. Also don’t expect to always see crowds on the streets, Estonia is just 1,000,000 population at least compared to Nigeria which is about 200,000,000 population.

2) GOVERNMENT POLICIES (FOR LEGAL ALIENS): As an international student, you are a legal alien once you are given a Temporary Residence Permit. But you have duties and responsibilities on how to conduct yourself in a proper manner otherwise it’s an abuse of privilege. The information on these will be given to you by the Police and Border. Check https://www.politsei.ee/en/ for detailed information.

3) WEATHER: This is one of the scary tales you will always hear people tell. For example, I am from Nigeria where the lowest weather forecast is not usually lower than +25°C, imagine how it sounds when you are told that you will experience as low as -30°C. As a person that has experienced -22°C before, I realised that wearing proper clothing is the most important thing, but there are lots of shops with Estonian proof coats – so it’s nothing to worry about.

4) LANGUAGE: Knowing how to speak Estonian language is very vital because it is the best way to integrate properly into the society, it is also the sure bet in landing your dream job. To be honest, the language is not really easy to grasp but I was able to pass my language examination in one attempt, thanks to one of my best lecturer of all time. So if someone like me can do that, then you can do even better. There are books online to start with. Check http://enagueesti.ee/units/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcTkB-bqRFM

5) EDUCATION/ACADEMICS: Above all don’t forget that your primary purpose of coming to Estonia is to acquire knowledge. For me although the Nigerian academic curriculum is built on British academic structure, from my experience, Estonian University academic structure is quite different from ours. So there is need for proper adjustment and you have to be pretty fast about this. I am quite sure you don’t want cross overseas to settle for a lower academic grade. To integrate properly, you need to form a cordial relationship with your Lecturers and colleagues that already have vast experiences about Estonian education. Believe me they will always be in your class or group. It’s very easy for you to access your tutors here, so magnificent.

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