Thursday, November 3, 2011

Various Things

This post is mostly going to consist of random thoughts about experiences I've had so far... This is mostly because I don't feel like I'm able to adequately string unrelated things together without sounding too ridiculous. So prepare for slight incoherency!

Random photo of Otepää!

By now I've been around town enough to realize that what they said about Estonia being a very wired country is true... The other day I ate at a café in the center of town and went to pay with a 10€ bill, but the waiter didn't have any change... I had to borrow some cents from a friend.
Recently I received my residence permit in the form of an Estonian ID card. It's got my name, picture, birth date, etc., and essentially works like a driver's license. But the cool thing is that it's got a little chip embedded in it as well... This means that I could use the ID with a card scanner and be able to sign documents digitally, sign into my online school account, and access my Estonian bank account (if I had one). See what I mean about that wired thing?

And another thing about money: Coins actually matter in the Eurozone. There are one- and two-euro coins that you can really use without getting strange looks. The U.S. does have a one-dollar coin, but I think I've used it approximately twice.

Don't give me that look, Saca... Sakajaw... Saccagewe... you.

Estonia's a digital country.... Which is weird for me because I had little to no experience with credit or debit cards before coming here. So now I basically try to avoid using them at all costs (an irrational fear).

I've been making some progress in the language department. I can understand a good amount of basic structural words (it, this, here, and, because, etc.) and a lot more verbs/nouns/adjectives than I did at the start.
My two-year-old host brother can be an especially big help when I need to study my vocab. A few weeks back we were walking on some cross-country skiing trails in the woods and he picked up a tree branch and said, "SEE ON PUU!" ("THIS IS TREE!"). It's the little things....
And yesterday at dinner he pointed to a picture of a ladybug in one of his books and asked me what it was... "Lepatriinu!" I said confidently, while simultaneously hoping that the title of the book did indeed mean "ladybug" and not "ferocious face-eating monster beetle".
Luckily I was right.

It's gettin' chilly. Also, kind of dark. The sky is mostly gray nowadays, but I saw some blue last weekend.

I've started to take some courses in Estonian this quarter... I've got Ajalugu (History), Statistika (Statistics), and Hispaania keelt (Spanish) in Estonian. The rest of my classes are in English still.
I'm also taking an animation course at the Tartu Art School ( on Tuesday afternoons... Gotta keep busy somehow!

School Vacation
Last week we had a week off from school for Fall Break, so my host family and I drove up to Jämi, Finland to an indoor cross country ski track. Before we got there, they dropped me off in Tampere, Finland, where I visited with some exchange student friends for a few days. We had to take a lot of buses in those three days... and man, they are expensive... Makes me glad I don't need buses to get around Tartu!
We walked around the city like typical foreigners, went to coffee shops (where, embarrassingly enough, I had my official first cup of coffee) and played laser tag with a bunch of 10-year-olds (who beat us horribly). It was unfair though--they just roamed around in packs of flashing lights. I could only manage to take out two or three of them before I was overrun with lasers :(
It also didn't help that I naturally aimed over their heads... Those preteens were DESIGNED for laser tag....

The best thing about laser tag, though, is that when you're playing, you think you look like this:


When in reality you look like this:

And since 10-year-olds already look like this, they have nothing to lose.
They literally have no weakness.

Anyway, on Tuesday I took a bus up to Jämi, where we were staying. I got to try out cross country skiing, which was pretty cool, though it was a bit difficult to do in the confined area of the track. I'm sure I'll get to try it again when there's snow in Estonia though.
Here are some photos from that...

And finally, some pictures to make up for the above pictures:

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