A diary of my experience in Estonia
Our study visit began on a high notch by people visiting their university of choice, either Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA) or Tallinn Technical University, both in Tallinn. This was in order to look at the various forms of formal and non-formal education which was in line with our job shadowing. We had the opportunity to learn and borrow some of the best practices that Estonians use to combat Early School Leaving.
Kairi and I visited TalTech University. The university offers 15 Master’s programs in English, including cyber security, for which Estonia is famous (Tallinn is home to the NATO Defense Center). The University also offers Master’s programs in Business Administration (MBA), health care technology and applied physics. The library has sweeping views of Tallinn and all the buildings are connected by bridges. In order to keep the students on track best students are always awarded by the school and the State. This helps in combating school dropout.
Estonian Language Institute
We attended the Estonian Language Institute. The Institute does teach Estonian but rather focuses on researching the etymology, history and dialects of the language. The Institute is in the process of creating a comprehensive database that aggregates the definitions of Estonian words from various dictionaries. The (sonaveeb.ee) also includes example sentences of words taken from Estonian literature, which presents challenges when words have multiple meanings.
Study in Estonia
Next, we learned about the different opportunities available for students to study in English at Estonian universities. There are many great reasons to study in Estonia: the air quality is 4th in the world, over 50% of the country is covered in forests and that students are given a nine month grace period on their visas after graduating.
With a few minutes to kill before our next appointment, we took advantage of the opportunity to ride in the self-driving mini bus around the Kadriog Park. The 8-person bus is programmed to circle the park on the road with other cars, but has a person with an Xbox controller that can override the system in an emergency.
Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia
We visited the Presidential palace, where we met the civil society advisor of President Kersti Kaljulaid. We took a tour of the palace and saw where the president meets with foreign dignitaries, hosts heads of state and hosts events. We learned about the role of the president in Estonia, the selection process for the president and her/his advisors and the unique nature of a small country’s government.
Estonian University of Life Sciences
We went to Eesti Maaülikool (Estonian University of Life Sciences) and were treated to a presentation full of information on what the university does; what it is like to study there and even some photos of all the pretty scenery you can see from the Student Dorms.
We also had the opportunity of visiting the Science Centre. Whilst this is supposed to be a science centre for children and school groups; the myriad of interactive exhibits and examples was more than enough to bring a glint to even the most bored eyes. We all wished there was more time to walk around and learn how stuff works.
We also had the opportunity of visiting various schools where we conducted a variety of workshops depending on the ages of the students. The workshops majorly revolved around intercultural diversity, say with movements, expressions through pictures and storytelling. Intercultural diversity was an interesting topic for me because it made the students think about the best way they could relate with each other despite their race, language, religion or gender.
Job shadowing in Estonia