Trip to Tartu, Estonia

Hea Päev Tartu

written by Maria Nighbert

Our second meeting of our “Find your Balance” Erasmus+ Program took us to Tartu, Estonia. All four nations met on Wednesday 11 April 2018 in Tartu, where we were all welcomed by the lovely Estonian teachers and the students’ host families. Since the traveling day is always exhausting, everyone went to sleep early to be ready for the next days. On Thursday we all met in school and the day started with a wonderful welcome ceremony where the Estonian students showed us traditional dances and sang traditional songs. It was an amazing show they had prepared for us. After the ceremony we were divided into our national groups and one Estonian student showed us the whole school, which was really interesting, because everyone got to see the similarities and differences compared to their hometown school. The students did a wonderful job leading us through their school. In the afternoon the students had the chance to carve butter knives or make soap, while the Estonian hosts prepared a lovely buffet for us, which had a variety of traditional Estonian food on it. The students who prepared the buffet did an outstanding job and gave their guests a nice impression of what a traditional Estonian meal looks like.

On Friday the whole group met in town at the “Kissing Students Fountain” in front of the town hall. Our day in the city didn’t just start in front of the town hall, we were also invited into the town hall, where we were welcomed by the Deputy Mayor Madis Lepajoe.  He talked to us about the city of Tartu and we all learned interesting facts about, not only Tartu, but also Estonia. After the visit with the Deputy Mayor, we went in small groups for a little tour through the city lead by one Estonian student, who gave us the information about sights and also read questions to us which we had to answer on a smartphone. The tour through the city was well planned and gave everyone a nice impression of Tartu, the tour ended at the “Gunpowder Cellar” of Tartu, where we had a delicious lunch. In the afternoon the whole group went to the “Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum”, where the students found out a lot about sports in Estonia but also had the chance to try out some sports themselves. Everyone enjoyed this amazingly planned day.

Our weekend started with a trip to Pühajärve on Saturday morning. It is a village outside of Tartu, where we went for a little hike along the lake. We had excellent weather and the sun was shining on us, while the lake was still frozen solid, which was stunning to see. The hike only took one hour and then we went to a small pizza restaurant, where we all had tasty pizza. After lunch the bus took us to the “Veski Sports and Holiday Camp” where we spent the rest of Saturday. We still had this gorgeous weather and just enjoyed being part of this wonderful experience. The students played different sports or just talked to each other. Later in the afternoon we barbecued some sausages before we all went back on the bus and back to Tartu. The next day was off and the students spent time in their host families and they all reported that they had a great Sunday.

Monday was already our last day of our second Erasmus+ meeting. The Estonian teachers had something sensational planned for us. All students went to the assembly hall, where they were divided into small groups of three to four students. Then the students had one hour to build and program a robot, which afterwards had to enter a rope-pulling competition against the other robots. Some students started right away to work hard on their robot, others needed some time to get into the group-working process, but all groups finished on time and had terrific results. The rope-pulling competition of the robots was a blast for everyone. After the winner was found the students had to work in small groups again. They wrote poems and made videos before they started their final task. Lastly the students had to brainstorm about the topic of the program “Find your Balance” and had to reflect their own cellphone usage. The last day in school went by quick and so we met in the restaurant called “Aparaat” for our last lunch with all students and teachers. At the restaurant we had delicious burgers and potato wedges, while we got to chat with our foreign friends. The Estonian teachers handed out presents and certifications and we got to say goodbye to each other.

On Tuesday we all met at the bus station for the final goodbye, before the bus took us to the airport in Tallinn.

We had an amazing time in Tartu, where we learned a lot, where students and teachers made new friends, where everyone got more familiar with a different culture and where we all focused again on finding our balance between ICT (information and communication technology) and physical activity. Thank you, Estonia!