Thursday, September 29, 2011


It's hard for me to believe that I've been back in the US for nearly 3 months! Honestly, sometimes I get these feelings like I should be back in Estonia, but I know, it had to end sometime. And these feelings are happening very seldom, now. (But still, occasionally I get these really vivid dreams of still being there. -Weird!)
Now, I've been busy starting university, seeing friends, and participating in different clubs and activities.
In my last post, I mentioned going to a big Rotary conference. As usual, over a thousand students, parents, and rotarians were present. And guess who was "lucky enough" to give a speech in front of everyone? Yeah, I had half an hour notice before I performed in front of everyone, but it went well. I only heard good reviews and laughs, at least :) And during the week long conference, there is a big flag ceremony, where every flag of every country involved with Central States Rotary is waved and paraded around. Since I was the only student involved with Estonia, I was the flag carrier/waver. I was in between a few boys, one from Ecuador and the others was a boy who came back from the Faroe Islands and a Finn. We just joked and had a lot of laughs while carrying the flags on stage and around the huge theater. I met with friends who went abroad the same time as I did and we all had great talks about our experiences away from home.
So, recently, I took a trip back to my old high school. It was so weird to see all the changes it has gone through. I met up with my old counselor, principal, the secretary, and we planned spontaneous surprises on other teachers. I didn't think that the school cared too much about me, but I guess I was wrong. haha. But the main reason I went back was to pick up my diploma. That's right, I actually graduated. Though, my junior year was rough and I had to take so many extra classes, my senior year abroad was just as easy as it could get, while my classmates had to suffer back in Illinois :D:D
Now, I'm in university, I'm just studying my Gen Eds since I'm still undecided. I've joined a few clubs at the school. Gay-Straight Alliance (I do have gay friends and support is always appreciated), Drama Club (YES! I can participate in the theater, again!!:D:D), and the Culture Club (This is cool. There are other exchange students in this club and people just interested in foreign affairs. I can talk about Estonia and learn so much from other students who went abroad for a year or just a semester) And just being in a new environment, like college and the different clubs, I've made many new friends. So it's all going well as far as school goes.
I'm still thinking about returning to Estonia. Not for another year or anything, I don't think I can do that, again. Not that I didn't have a great experience during my exchange year, it's just when I looked into doing a volunteer year or whatever, it would just be too expensive. So I'm planning, possibly, a European Tour. It's going to be pretty low-budget and hopefully I'll be able to make the funds for a full summer in Europe. For my plans, I'm leaning more on couch-surfing and "programs" like that. Where I will for sure meet people in the places I go and learn more :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kus aeg läheb?

Always, during my exchange, I asked myself, "Where is the time going?" But, now, the time is all gone. I'm back in the flatlands of Illinois, I'm heading off to Central States Conference tomorrow, and my dad is already making a schedule for my college classes.
But thinking back to when I did have the time.. In the last few months, school ended, Jaanipaev, Hiiumaa, I said the last good-byes to my friends, Laulupidu, and the start of my journey home.

For me, classes ended in May. I decided I was going to end a little earlier than my classmates, since I did literally nothing at school. There was another ceremony, the last ceremony, but I didn't go. I was in Tallinn with Halie and Adriana and we visited Adriana's school, Gustav Adolfi Gumnaasium. Wow, this was another one of those moments where I felt another appreciation for my classmates and friends in Rapla. Her classmates seemed so so cold. They didn't say 'hi' to her or anything nor did they look at her. Only her teacher talked to her and that was only because she had to ask him about her yearbook.
But later that night, we went out to Von Krahl to a Galvanic Elephants show. There we saw a couple friends from Haapsalu. In all it was a good show.

Mid June I went to Haapsalu for the last time. I stayed for 4ish days or so and I got showed around the city and helped set up for the second and last 'American' party. I was with Halie and she had about 6 jars of peanut butter. Soo.. Peanut butter party!! And we just wanted to get rid of our American food, like boxed macaroni and cheese, dip flavorings, kool-aids, pancake syrups, etc. Let's just say, we tried. We thought it turned out fine, but they didn't like the things so much. We couldn't help but laugh when they started to try the pancake syrup. 'Freaking out' would be an understatement. lol But the last couple days we toured around the city and saw the fort. It was really beautiful there.

Jaanipaev! It was the 23-24, but my family and I started the celebration a bit earlier. We went to a bar outside of Rapla since they had an annual celebration there. It was nice, so different because we don't celebrate Jaanipaev in the US. But there were a few games like "golfing" which I was terrible at and there was a beer drinking competition for the men, specifically. Then the next day, my family and I set off for the second biggest island in Estonia, HIIUMAA! During the ferry ride, my host mom and I heard a couple speaking in English. We were a bit curious, so I started to talk with them. The man was Estonian, his girlfriend was Chinese. They were pretty nice. We said our good-byes and went back to the car. While driving through Hiiumaa, I realized, it is absolutely gorgeous! But we drove to the Southern side of the island and drove through the forests to a friend's summer cottage. Everything there they made. The two houses, outdoor kitchen, everything. It was beautiful, in the middle of the forest with the sea a short 4 minute walk away. That was really nice because it was a private beach. During the rest of the 23rd and 24th, the 3 other families and mine just hung out and talked a lot. Then on the 25th, we went to see the Estonian Eiffel Tower which was pretty odd, and my brother and I climbed the insanely steep steps to the top of Kopu Lighthouse only to find the Estonian/Chinese couple, and we went to a beach where there were damages from a battle and ruined Soviet buildings. We later made our way to the harbour, but there was a huge line and we were at the end of it. So we had to wait a couple of hours for the next and last ferry back to the mainland. And finally we made it home around midnight.

In late, late June I got a call from a classmate to hang out. Earlier that day I was at the post office to send off another package and found out I got the package I had been waiting for. After some excited jumps and claps I took it home. I thought it was just going to be the peanut butter I requested, but no.. My parents liked to send the most random things in my packages. This one included my peanut butter, a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, fruit snacks, Stars 'n' Stripes themed garland and games... Sometimes I just don't understand their thought process. But it was nice to get a package, though it came so late. I had 6 jars of peanut butter and was going to meet a couple of friends later that day, so of course I brought them. I met with my friends and walked to one of their houses. During the walk, oh my word, I've never seen so many frogs and they were teeny-tiny. We made it to her house and I brought out my peanut butter for them. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I'm not sure how well they liked them, but they didn't spit them out or anything, at least :) After pushing my peanut butter on them, we had to 'go to the store'. Well, in short, we didn't. We walked right into a surprise party. It was sooo sooo sweet of them. I really tried hard not to cry, and I didn't. After the hugs we grilled. But I kept realizing and thinking, this is the last time I'll see some of these people and it was hitting hard that I was leaving in a few days. I gave them all big hugs and by the time I got home I just started crying and crying. Seriously, I don't think I cried as long as that since I was a child. But just two days after that, on Saturday, my family and I went to an air show at the Rapla 'airport' then we went back home and we had the family/family friends goodbye party. On that day, I could only speak in Estonian and my family did really well with keeping up with it, I really appreciated it. One of my friends came to the party. When she had to leave though, one of my host dad's friend drove her home and we just stood there bawling and hugging. But by the time I got back into the car I got the most Estonian reaction to my red, puffy eyes, and sniffling. "Marina, why are you crying? Stop. You'll be coming back." haha and it was nice, he kept the subject off me leaving. So I managed to suck it up and went back to the party. I sat at the sauna with my host grandma and she kept asking about my friends here and I just started crying all over again. Being such a grandmother she just kept hugging and comforting me. The rest of the night was me sniffling, sitting by the sauna, and talking with everyone. One lady did my hair because "I'm in Estonia and girls should have braids, especially for Laulupidu" :)
The next day was the last day of Laulupidu and I went. It was the first time I saw the stadium and it was so beautiful there. It started with a parade, I missed some of it, but I did see a few friends in there. I'm not sure if hugging my friends walking in the parade was appropriate, but I was leaving that day and it happened. :)
During the Festival I went around with Halie to the different workshops and we made a few souvenirs for ourselves and ran into other friends. But since she was singing in the festival we parted ways, she sat with her host family and I sat with mine. When the choirs sang it was absolutely beautiful. The girls choir was first, but I missed some of it. I saw the rest, though. The boys were next, then everyone. I never noticed this, but towards the end I realized I was crying during most of the festival. I had to leave the festival early to catch my ferry. Damnit. But I am very glad that I got to end my year with such a big bang like this, it's just that I wish I could have experienced the whole thing..
I made it to my ferry, with my purse, carry-on, Rotary blazer, and two huge suitcases. I got to Finland and had to get these down escalators, lucky the Finns are super sweet and one worker helped me. I got to my taxi and we talked for a while. I mentioned being an exchange student in Estonia and as it turns out she's originally from Estonia! Like anyother Estonian/Finn I've met this year, she was so sweet and nice. Then I waited 8hours for my flight. I eventually made my way to Frankfurt where I waited with three French ladies to go to Philadelphia. It was a LONG flight and I was literally running to catch it. Luckily it was a little slowed down because since it was going to the US everyone had to be asked questions and go through another security and customs/immigration. Luckily I'm not a threat to society so I got on without problems. Such a long flight, but it did eventually make it to Philly. There I had to get my baggage and go through customs again. But this time: small problem. I got escorted to Agriculture. But after just a minute of talking with them I was on my way to go through another security. It was so weird being around so many people who speak English as a mother tongue. I could understand everything that was spoken around me. I heard so many weird conversations about hermaphrodites' mental states, to racial fights, family fights.. it was a bit overwhelming, but very entertaining. I went to get a frozen yogurt and I only had 3 dollar bills. I did have a few dollars in change, but I didn't feel like counting all of it at a register. I told the worker that I only had $3 and I got the 'pretty lady' discount. Ha. Please I've been traveling for a day and hadn't slept since Friday. Welcome to America, I guess.
I got to my flight to St. Louis and talked with some guy who goes to university in Missouri.
Luckily the flight was only a couple hours and we made it to St. Louis. But with some complications with my tickets I had to check-in my baggage all over again, but I had no idea where to go and I was told such a vague area. Thank god for kind TSA workers. He showed me the place, but no one was working at the counter. After waiting and waiting and waiting I got on my last flight. It was less than hour, but I was so exhausted and I kept passing out. lol I felt bad that I didn't stay up to talk to everyone. Literally everyone. It was such a small plane it could only hold 6 passengers. There were 3 passengers and the pilots kept the door open just to make small talk to us. But they woke me up and I saw my family waiting for me. They didn't quite recognize me at first, but since I was holding my Rotary blazer, I heard the excited screams. Then we made our way to the only open place open at midnight, Perkins. I ate a huge stack of pancakes. Real, thick, heavy, American pancakes! Eventually we got home and I got out all the gifts for them, they showed me all the changes, etc. It was so weird. I got to sleep, but my sisters had to wake up early so I got a nice 4 hours of sleep that night. Ugh.
It feels so weird being back in the US. Tomorrow I leave for a conference that's an 8hour drive away.
Oh.. Welcome home.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nearing the end

A few things has happened over the past few weekends..

On Easter weekend it was actually nice outside. It was sunny and moderately warm, different than the Illinois Easters I'm used to -wet and dreary. So my family and I took advantage, did some yard work, and grilled. Such a pleasant 3day weekend.
Then came Sunday, my host dad still did some work outside, but my host mom made duck for the big meal. While she was preparing the meal, my host brother, grandmother and I decorated eggs. And it's not the same style as in the US. No one does the whole food coloring, vinegar, and boiling water on already hard boiled eggs thing. Just onion peels or yarn -maybe even flowers- on fresh eggs. So I broke a couple. Whoops.
So here's how they do it: Cover your egg with onion peels, wrap in a small square of cloth, tie it off with string and place in pot of boiling water to hard boil. When it's cool, cut through the strings and remove your beautiful eggs. *tying the string too tight may cause the egg to break.
Then of course, while we were all sitting around the table we did KAKSISMA (ok, I'm not totally sure on the word, but that's the way it sounded when my host brother kept saying it) Anyways, you have a partner and an egg and, well, basically you just bang your eggs together. It's supposed to show good luck (if your egg cracks=bad luck/if your egg doesn't crack=good luck)

The following weekend I went to a classmate's birthday party. I've been to other friends' parties, but those friends live in other parts of Estonia. I finally went to a Rapla party. It was in a different town, but I'm lucky because my classmates really are an awesome bunch of kids and I got a ride to the party. It was at a school in a very small town. Anyways it went on for quite a while and it was nice. I never see my classmates outside of school. So I only get to see their serious sides, I never see them relaxed, having fun, etc.. It was really fun, even though they were speaking in Estonian for the most part and I couldn't understand a lot. I don't think they know how much it meant to me to be invited and see them outside the school bubble.

A few weeks after that I did my first presentation at school. You might be thinking, 'You've been there for over 9 months, of course you did presentations for your Rotary club or school. People want to learn about your home country.' No, I haven't been asked to do them for either school or Rotary. So the presentations I was required to make about my American life have just kind have been collecting dust in my flash drive. But alas, a teacher spoke to me! (which really is a shocker because the school didn't tell the teachers or students that I'm an exchange student, so everyone just ignores me) And she, the music teacher, asked that I make a presentation about music from America. She thought I should just do it in English, but I decided to give myself a challenge. Since no one speaks to me in Estonian, I'll get some studying in and do it all in Estonian. I wrote it out and asked my classmates several times to check the presentation for me. Finally they got to it, corrected my endless mistakes, and I could show it. I showed it to my class first, but the teacher stopped me and told me just speak in English. And while I was showing it, it just reminded me how much I love my class. They smiled, listened, helped, laughed at the jokes, and seemed somewhat interested. After that, the teacher gave me a chocolate bar and told me to wait for the next class to show it again. The next class was the other 11th grade. Honestly, it was like reliving the first day of school here, again. No one smiled, laughed, paid attention.. Many of them slept, had their computers out, talked..
That said. Thank you 11H, I love you guys and I'll miss you.

A couple weekends later, I went to Tallinn. My classmates went to a military camp, which I am slightly disappointed I missed. With all of my sisters serving in the Army, it interests me and it just would have been nice to see it all. But I went to Tallinn to meet a girl who I haven't seen since Karkku Language Camp. She lives in Lapland and her parents came to visit her and they went on a small, Nordic tour. They spent a couple days in Estonia and Halie (the other American) and I were they're tour guides. It was a great gig, we got a free meal and hot chocolate. :) And lucky for us, tourist season has begun, so the churches and museums were open. And what was even better, it was free museum night. So we took a bus to Viimsi and visited the Estonian War Museum. It was cool to see, it was about the Estonian soldiers fighting in the War on Terror. And towards the end of the night, they had a skype interview with two soldiers in Afghanistan. But it was fun, even though some of the soldiers were laughing at us when we tried to climb in vehicles. The next day we showed them to the malls they wanted to go to, but as we walked through Raekoja Plats, it was Tallinn Day! So there was a choir singing and paper flags and balloons handed out. In the end, it was a nice, though tiring, weekend.

On Friday, my school didn't have classes. There was a ceremony. I got a school hat a month ago, which looks a little like a train conductors hat, and I finally got to wear to the ceremony. Although, my classmates helped me get the hat, they never told me there were certain hate rules. So the people around me had a good laugh when I wasn't holding my hat properly when we had to take them off. After the ceremony, my class met with our teacher, ate kringel, drank lemonade, and talked for a little while. It was really odd when the teacher asked me to say how I enjoyed my year here. It's a normal question, but she asked if I could say it in English and my classmates encouraged me in Estonian. That was the weird part. It's always just English, English, English. No one wants to speak to me in Estonian, so it's always weird when they spontaneously ask me to say something in Estonian. Soon everyone left and it was just two classmates and I and we talked for a while longer.

Later that night, it was warm and we grilled since my host sister recently had a birthday. Of course the mosquitos were absolutely terrible! They're huge here! Then came Saturday, the grandmother came over again, because my host parents went to a party that night. We grilled again and I slept a lot. On Sunday it was a little like any other Sunday, but Sunday night the neighbors, who are really family, were grilling so we went there, too. Such a nice weekend with good food.
On Monday there was no school and Tuesday my class had exams, so there was no point in me going. So what else is there to do? Go to Tallinn. I met up with Halie and Adriana(the exchange student from Brazil) and we tromped around town and I met with another girl who I haven't seen since August at the Tallinn Language Camp. It was nice to talk with her because she spoke to me in Estonian and only in Estonian.
So last weekend I got to speak more Estonian because my host grandmother doesn't speak English and I met with the Estonian friend who spoke to me in Estonian.. Sometimes it's nice to know I can minimally understand the people of my host country. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Since the snowy Spring Break, it has definitely warmed up outside and in the moods of Estonians. Yayyy!
During my Spring Break, I did absolutely nothing. And I mean that in the most literal sense as possible. **To any future exchange students coming to Estonia, you will be alone A LOT! It will be depressing, it will suck, no one will talk to you. You can't prepare for it, so just buckle up for a year of continuous ups-and-downs. If you come with Rotary you're slightly in luck. There was only 6 of us here this year; not many come to Estonia. Those few other exchange students that you're with will be your closest and best friends here, so keep them close :)
The other exchange students did some traveling during Spring Break, so I was alone. The school week after Spring Break, though, I met up with the other American student in Tallinn. Her boyfriend from home was visiting her and a few days later her parents would come. So I met up with them one afternoon and we showed more of Tallinn. We tried to remember the different facts we learned during our second language camp in August and thinking of the different places our teacher showed us during our days of sightseeing. Then we remembered one thing.. very distinctly. Pierre Chocolatarie.. Home of the "World's Best Hot Chocolate" -says one travel magazine. The thing was, we had no idea how to get there. So we started aimlessly walking through Old Town, when off in the distance we saw the sign. Believe me, there were some major air punches and excited screams... we scared the man who was walking in front of us. The inside of the place is absolutely crazy. We were trying to figure out the style they were going for. Ripped up, old vests on some chairs, old dresses hanging on walls, rugs used for table cloths, a box of shoes, empty picture frames hanging on the walls. It's just so confusing going in there. When we left, it was snowing again. It was slightly humerous to see the boyfriend's reaction. She and him are from Florida, I'm from Illinois. I'm used to the cold winters, they are definitely not. In fact, it was his first time seeing snow, so he was excited.
We made our way back to the flat to get ready for the main event of the day, the Estonia vs. Serbia soccer game. Of course it kept snowing during the whole thing and was freezing, but it was fun nontheless. Estonia didn't win, it was a tie. And this game was a qualifier for the EuroCup so it was kind of a big deal... emphasis on the 'kind of' because Estonia's soccer team isn't all that great. I mean I didn't find any true fans when I mentioned my going to the game.
The game ended around 11pm and I had to catch the early train back to Rapla. So there was only about 2 hours of sleep.
That weekend there was an actual event in Rapla.. Living in a small town does have its downsides, like no place to go out. But there was the Linnapea Rock. Which is, essentially, just a rock concert with local, Estonian bands. Not so many Estonians themselves are impressed with the music there. But it was nice to see friends outside of school, since I never get to see Rapla friends anywhere besides school.
The following weekend was the Miss Raplamaa, which is just a county-wide beauty contest that later leads to the country-wide contest. It was also my host dad's 35th birhday party. The pageant was held at the other school. I went with my host sister and cousin, but my host sister and I left early because it was kind of boring. So we went to the birthday party. It was pretty big, about 60 people and it was an Estonian party- so LOTS of food :) I sat next to a lady I didn't know, but she knew English well and we talked a lot. And throughout the night people came up to talk with me or asked to dance. Over all it was really fun.
And this week was the 12th grader's last days of Gümnaasium. Now they will study for upcoming exams. On they're last day, it's tradition they come dressed as toddlers and act as them, too, I guess. I never got to meet any of the 12th graders at my school, but it was interesting to see. Like on the first day of school, the 12th graders escort the 1rst graders to the ceremony. I didn't understand much of anything there, but it was just a typical ceremony. Students wore they're school hats, the choir sang, children sang some songs, a couple of speeches, the flag carriers were changed from 12th graders to 11th graders...etc..

Now in school people are preparing for their exams and the ending of the school year. I'm happy it will be Summer break and there will be more activities and festivals, but it's still very sad because I'll have to leave so soon. With a ridiculous contract, I must leave through the Helsinki Airport, not through Tallinn. With that, I must leave Estonia a day earlier to catch a ferry to Helsinki and spend the night there. Because my flight leaves early in the morning. So I'll leave Estonia July 3rd then leave Helsinki July 4th. Just in time to completely miss the National Singing Festival -one of the biggest festivals in Estonia :(

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Break 2011: Eesti

It´s Spring Break from school. This is a bit shorter than the Fall break and Winter Break.. Wow. It is so weird to think I´ve been away from home for so long, over 7months. What is actually odd is that Estonia is home for me. It´s in my comfort zone. The total opposite of the beginning of my year here.
I haven´t really had continuous access to a computer, hence the lack of updates. But to keep everyone up to speed, in January I changed families, in February I celebrated my birthday, met the Estonian students who will leave to go on exchange this Summer, and March is still bringing me new experiences.

Yes, in mid January, the Rotary students were taken to Otepää for a ski camp. Unfortunately, though, we didn´t have a chance to ski, though we did get to go tubing. :)
The next day after I returned from the weekend with Rotary, my club president came to my home and took me to the next. The first night with them we went to a birthday party, believe me I was completely exhausted afterwards.. not sleeping much during the weekend, being with a new setting, then going to a party until later in the night with school the next morning. Rough. :) hahaha
It´s a different setting with my new family. My last one lived in the countryside, this one lives not in the center of town, more on the edge, but the city bus reaches me.
Now I didn´t get another family because of any troubles, it´s that it is customary with Rotary to have multiple families throughout your year. I will have just 2.

In February my family and I went to the Himos Mountains in Finland for a few days of skiing. It was my first time mountain skiing, I mean I´m from the midwest, we just have fake hills to ski down. It was pretty cool to see Finland and to go skiing again
All the exchange students got together before Independence Day (February 9) yes, all 6 plus the 7 or 8 Estonians preparing to leave for their exchanges this Summer. We spent a day touring parliament and other government buildings. We almost got to meet the president, but sadly he was in a meeting. We did, get to meet the Prime Minister. The first question he asked us when we stepped into his office was ``Where are the Americans?´´ He then showed Halie and I the hand written note from George W. Bush that was written during his visit to Estonia in 2004. It was IMPOSSIBLE to read! :D There was a typed version to read, but I thought it was sweet that there was a handwritten one.
For my 18th birthday here I had two exchange friends over to help make a big meal for my family. It was a fun weekend with a lot of laughs :)
Also in February was the Heliosphere Fest. which is a music festival for more of psychodelic-experimental sounds.. I went with an exchange friend and some friends from Haapsalu. The other American student didn´t quite enjoy the night when we went there, so it was a slight bust, but we did have a fun weekend nonetheless.

Now it´s March. My 7th month mark. Crazy. Like I´ve been commenting before. I can´t believe that I´ve been away for so long, yet I can´t believe I´ll be leaving my [new] home in just a couple!
It´s a definite I will come back to Estonia in 2013, either for just a Summer or for another year abroad. Well, I shouldn´t say definite, but it´s a definite plan.. Even though this year has been a hard one, it´s been very eye-opening, memorable, loving, quiet, fun.. Estonia has become my second home.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

winter times

So it has been a while since I last posted. Since November, I've celebrated a few holidays, been resting over Winter break, and been having a pretty darn good time.

Last day of school. The last day of classes before winter break was definitely enjoyable. Though, the whole class didn't show up, the classmates that did got American treats like truffles, peanut butter and jellies, and rice krispy treats. I never knew until the Estonians continuously pointed out that everything I made looks like crap, but tastes absolutely DELICIOUS! It was so funny, I have never heard the word for 'shit' in Estonian so many times, but they reluctantly tried and loved it all. I didn't come home with left overs. So something went right :)

Christmas. It's different than in the US. In the US, we celebrate on Christmas Day, but here the big hoorah is on Christmas Eve. But my host family celebrated a little differently this year. They had their usual celebration with some family, but on Christmas Day. Chistmas Eve this year was the night of a big snow storm, so we were snowed in and I couldn't go to the Rapla Church for a night service.

I got to say, "New Years in Estonia is the best. I wish I could come back every year for it" I know I sound like the cheesy exchange student, but in all honesty it was incredible.. My American friend and I made some rough plans before New Year's Eve, but nothing was definite. So I woke a bit early on the last day of 2010 to make sure I knew what I was doing that night. Well, by noon I knew.. most of everything :) Anyways, we went to Tallinn to see some indie bands and to see the big opening ceremony of Tallinn. -There was an opening ceremony to celebrate Tallinn becoming the Cultural Capital of Europe and the introduction of the Euro- I arrived in Tallinn first and my bus got there pretty early, so I just waited in the very crowded bus station for my friends to arrive on their bus. Well, they came and we were on our way. We walked around a bit and found ourselves in Solaris. There we went to the grocery store and found our dinner, among other goodies. A couple of hours later we were back on the chilly streets of Tallinn. We went to Raekoja Plats, which is where the Freedom Cross is located. There we met with a boy who is a friend of the friends who were with us.. that's weird to explain. Anyways, it was his birthday and we wished him birthday wishes and got the keys to his apartment. Because he was nice enough to offer his place to all of us. He left to go do something else, and we left to hang out at his place. After another couple of hours he and the rest of his band came back. Not long after the 2 Americans decided we better find our way to the Opening Ceremony. The trolley ride! :D Wow. I didn't know these Estonians actually had voices! And we weren't going to let the opportunity of yelling on a trolley without being odd just slide by. So we were with all the Estonians in the crammed trolley sining, dancing, yelling happy new year. But we weren't too sure when we should get off, but luckily there was a girl behind us who was going to the same place we were, so she led to where we needed to be. And we made it. We were a little late, but we made it. First a popular folk band played and it was mainly old people around, but we kept squirming our way in front of the super tall people called Estonians. Then, what is probably the most popular band in Estonia, Tanel Padar and the Sun, played. And by that time we made our way to the front row, so it's cool to say. Not only did we see the most popular band, but front row. Oih.. cheesy exchange student-ness :D
After their show we went back to the Solaris, where they set off fireworks. At first it was fun, but then all the ash started to fall on us, then snow. Wet ash.. it's kind of gross. Anyways after our official New Year's celebration, we decided to go to the place where the indie bands will be playing. A little place called Von Krahl? I was told 'Everyone knows Von Krahl!' Well, I don't know. On our way, we were stopped by many Russians hugging and kissing and the Estonians high-fiving. And we tried to ask the most sober-looking people where exactly Von Krahl is, but we just got the same replies, "Oh I don't know. Ask someone else. Everyone knows about Von Krahl, but me.." Wow. After asking an abundence of strangers, police officers, food venders (where we got amazing kebabs) we finally found it! YAY! But what we didn't know was that there are two parts to this place. We went into one and it was just a DJ and a dance floor. Luckily, our friends found us and brought us to the concert area. None of the bands disappointed, I'm happy to say. We knew the last band, since we were just chillaxing at their place earlier that night, and we danced the hardest for them. The concert went until about 3am, but in the downstairs the DJs were still playing so we just went there until 5am.. until they turned on the lights.
Oh! At one point during the night, one friend and I were sitting at our table and some strange woman was sitting next to me, and who comes to our table also? 2 members of Tanel Padar and the Sun.
So as I mentioned at 5am they turned the lights on and we had to leave. We walked around for a while and ran into one of the two Depeche Mode Bars. We didn't go in, but we definitely had to get some pictures, since it is oddly one of my favorite bands.
Then at about 6.30 the 2 Americans decided we need to head back to the Bus Station to catch our 8am buses. When we arrived to the station, we were greeted by another friend who was catching the same bus. For a while it was just us three in there, but unfortunately two men strolled in and continued to hit on and ask for pictures of the '2 gorgeous American girls' The buses couldn't come soon enough. After our wait, I said good-bye to my friends as they went on their bus and I noticed that my bus still didn't arrive. I asked every bus driver if he went to my town, but no.. So what was I to do? I walked right to trolley stop to take me to the train station because I knew there was a 8.37 train Well, if only I was 2minutes earlier.. Because I arrived to my trolley stop just as it was leaving. And of course I missed it. So I waited and waited.. finally the next one came and of course something had to go wrong with it. Some of the doors weren't closing, so the driver would have to stop and close the doors. Well when it got to the train station, I left the trolley running.. Not the best idea when there is an inch of ice everywhere. While running I managed to hurt my ankle and see my train leave me. And to make matters even better was that the next train was at 10.40am.
Tallinn, it's the capital city -heck, it's the CULTURAL CAPITAL! but on New Year's absolutely nothing was open. No cafes, no kiosks, no shops. I literally had nothing to do for my 2hour wait. So I chose a direction and kept walking straight. I learned a bit from that walk. I make a lot of unncessary turns when I'm actually trying to find places, when I could just be walking straight. Wow. So I walked for over an hour to kill time and got on my train and waited a bit more..
Just to remind you all, I have not slept yet! And I don't know how all the Estonians do it, sleeping on the train. I couldn't even though I was totally exhausted...and hungry. When I arrived in my town, I got a call from my host parents saying they were stuck in the snow. So I rode the bus back to the bus station where I met up with my host sister and her friend. Well much like my 'supposed' bus that goes to my town, the bus that went to our bus stop stood us up, too. So we eventually found a ride, though not a ride we knew that well. And to my American readers, they were like the Estonian version of the typical jeep owner. ;) While riding with them we got stuck a few times, but they managed to get themselves out of it, but then we got majorly stuck and we just left them and made our way home. Finally at around 3pm I could eat hahaha. :D
Epic New Year's.

Earlier in December it was made a possible possibility that I may move to Pärnu, but I'm pretty sure that fell through. So I'm still in search for a new home.
*Please keep it in your hopes and best wishes that my next family can be a local one in the Rapla area.. or that I can get a fuller experience and get a new family. :)