“I was just searching for possible universities for my exchange studies, and when I saw Estonia, I said to myself, let’s try it and see how the life there is”. Valentina is a 25-year-old exchange student from Slovenia studying political science. She came to Estonia to complete her thesis in the field of green infrastructure. She is studying the cases of Slovenia, Estonia and Finland.

Valentina believes that Slovenia and Estonia are pretty much similar. Their small territorial and population size, the landscapes and green nature make it look almost the same. She has even analysed the nominal GDP (gross domestic product) of both states, Estonia is on the 33rd and Slovenia on the 29th place in Europe. There are of course the elements that distinguish these two countries. First of all, Valentina sees the difference in culture. According to her, Estonians are more easy-going and calm. Secondly, the life here is better in terms of financial wealth. At the same time, Valentina says that Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia) is cleaner. “There is no such thing as not cleaned or slippery pavements in winter or I couldn’t even imagine having a beautiful sand beach used as forgotten waste landfill as it is done here in Tallinn”. Moreover, the climate in Slovenia is more pleasant. April is pretty cold in Estonia, “Before I couldn’t imagine having 10 degrees at the end of April, and I really find it severe”.

Estonia is a good place to study and it is possible to build a good career here. Nevertheless, the climate does play a role in choosing your place. Valentina has a cosmopolitan view that we have unlimited chances of choosing where to live. The major aspect would be climate for her. Nevertheless, as a researcher in the field of green infrastructure, Valentina believes that green tourism is a strong side of Estonia “I would love to come on spring holidays here but can’t imagine living in Estonia”.

As three best things in Tallinn she names cheap food, early sunrise in spring and that Estonia is green. Valentina clarifies that cheap food is good not in terms of quality, but in comparison to Slovenia. Such things as bread, avocado are cheaper than in Slovenia. At the same time, there are a couple of unpleasant things such as dirty beaches, cold weather and expensive cosmetics. Body care is important, especially for a woman.

The biggest frustration for Valentina in Tallinn was dirty public surfaces; pavements, roads. It creates a bad atmosphere. Also, the absence of spring weather during the spring is also a disappointing factor, she says. 

It is pretty easy to be happy in Estonia, despite the fact that the weather in most of the times is cloudy, Estonia is beautiful with its nature and you just need to ignore the cold and the wind.

Blitz Questions:
Hot or Cold? - Hot
Swimming or skiing? – Swimming
Friday night out in the best club of Tallinn or write a thesis? - Friday night out 
Friday night out in the best club of Tallinn or staying home and watching favourite TV series? – Staying home and watching Game of Thrones. 
Maxima or Rimi? – Rimi. She finds Rimi cheaper than Maxima
Estonian boyfriend or Slovenian boyfriend? – Estonian, as they are light and beautiful. In Slovenia men look like Balkan, all of them are dark. 
Name Estonia in three words – Cold, wild and beautiful. “It seems like wildness to me”. There is a lot of nature, however, only one part of the city is developed. 

At the end, I also asked some questions about Valentina’s thesis. Theoretical part of the thesis has been written in Slovenia. Estonia was a place to feel the atmosphere and study the case. The main research problem is implementation of green infrastructure measures in Tallinn, Helsinki and Ljubljana. Valentina says that Estonia is doing well in implementing those measures and she hopes that Europe would further develop these strategies.

Written by Teymur Mammadov.