Hi! My name is Natia Aroshvili. I am 21 years old and I spent 10 months in Kose, Estonia. I was working in the Kose youth center and with this blog post I want to share my experience with you.
My program started in February so when I arrived in Estonia it was nearly -30 degrees outside (the lowest temperature I had ever experienced before was -8) so first challenge was the Estonian climate, which is totally different from Georgian.
The second big surprise was the white nights during summer or the darkness in the winter. Sometimes it was hard to believe that it is already 11:00 pm and it was still light outside or it is already 11:00 am in the winter and it is still dark outside. This totally different climate zone was new for me and was not actually easy to get used to.
Another big challenge was the Covid-19 virus. When I arrived, it was lockdown, many restrictions and for 2 months the youth center was closed. It is worth to mention that I had a great tutor and co-workers. They tried everything to make this big change of my life easier. I went to nearly every city of Estonia with them. During the lockdown when the youth center was closed we had sport days, hiking and so on.
Not only youth workers but other people were also very friendly. My neighbours were helping me with anything (I had few problems with lockers, windows, kitchen tools, etc. They actually helped me a lot. I lived in “Pastoraat” and some days a musical band had a rehearsal for the concert. When they heard a Georgian girl is living there also, they came to talk to me and after a brilliant concert we had a Georgian lunch together. I shared some Georgian dishes to them and as they said everything was very delicious. We also had “Khinkali” day in the center and I taught to other workers how to make Georgian traditional Khinkali.
Finally, the Covid-19 cases went down and we opened the youth center. For children it was not easy to communicate with me as a new worker. It was especially hard for those who were shy and could not speak in English, they were watching me from another room and whispering to each other, but in few weeks everybody was very friendly. We liked playing together, talking, they were teaching me some Estonian (now I realise that that was very hard for me).
My favourite part of the day was playing board games with the children. We also were playing with the Xbox, dancing or doing karaoke and when the winter was finally over and the snow finally went away, we started playing outside. I taught some ball games to them, what I played when I was child, we started hiking in forests, and playing disc golf. Disc golf was their favorite sport and they were surprised when I said I had never seen this game before.
In the summer, we had summer camps for children. In these camps we made many outside games for children, the main thing was riding bicycles and hiking in near forests, once we also went to the Tallinn’s Zoo.
In December they made a surprise for me and we had “piparkoogid” day. I made traditional gingerbreads for Christmas with the children at the youth center. It was my final work day and it was big pleasure and very sad at the same time, we said goodbye to each other, children gave me letters, cute gifts and they made me promise that I will come to Kose again if I have a chance.
This was the greatest 10 months of my life. It was full of positive energy, challenges, experiences and new, good people, of course. Thank you to Estonia and Estonian people for their welcoming, positive and warm hearts. They are warm people in a cold country. It really became my second homeland which I will visit again and again many times.