“Why did you come to Estonia? How did you end up in Pärnu?” These were quite frequently asked questions I heard after I had chosen a project in a rather small, surprisingly modern country with a beautiful landscape but quite bad weather. Frankly, it was just a lucky coincidence that I came here, to a town where I have been the only volunteer for eight months.
I know, being the only volunteer might sound a bit lonely or challenging. However, even if that might be true for the beginning, I believe that it also entails certain opportunities one should definitely seize and not neglect. I think the lack of other volunteers enables you in a way to immerse yourself really in culture since you are kind of forced to get to know the locals.
In order to get to know locals more easily, I can really recommend attending sport classes. Personally, I participated in a dance course in the “La Clave” studio, which is highly recommendable. Nonetheless, I should probably warn you. Meeting locals is without question easier if you are able to speak the language.
The only language which is quite similar to Estonian is Finnish. Hence it might be rather difficult to learn it. Anyway, I guarantee that it is possible and doable. Though there is no too huge offer for learning Estonian. Personally, I considered “Keeleklikk” to be surprisingly helpful, even if it might be weird in some way.
Nonetheless, the best thing you can do is just speaking to people in Estonian and practicing recently learned vocabulary. The most important thing while doing that is to not fear making mistakes. You will definitely make uncountable mistakes in the beginning, but it is no problem at all. It is a completely foreign language with 14 cases, so you should be allowed to make some mistakes. And I am sure people will appreciate your effort even if there might be a grammar mistake in your sentence.
However, I also wanted to use the article in order to write a bit more about the town I have been spending the last eight months in. Pärnu is known as the Estonian summer capital. So, you can probably imagine how happy I was that summer was the only season I couldn ́t spend there. Anyway, regardless of the time you are here you will certainly love the beach and the famous jetty!
Yet, what else should you see or visit in Pärnu? I would definitely recommend a visit at “Stefanie ́s”, a nice and priceworthy restaurant. Neither should you miss a dinner in “Ferro”, if you like to have once a rather chic dinner nor the café “Supelsaksad”, which is really cute
and cozy and offers delicious cakes. Besides for nice restaurants Pärnu is also known for its numerous spas you should indubitably check out!
Despite of all that you will probably also want to explore the rest of Estonia. Traveling within a country, you can reach everything without further problems, is surely one of the most joyful parts of my volunteering experience. Besides of the capital and the students ́ city Tartu, the lovely, tiny, charming town, Haapsalu is doubtlessly worth a visit!
I really hope that this article offers some advices which might be useful for you and your own volunteering experience. Anyway, just enjoy your stay and don ́t forget to capture every opportunity since pretty much everything has also an upside. And even if it might sound trivial don ́t be judgmental, but open-minded and make just the best out of your time.