Land of the (Not) Setting Sun
Tallinn Summer School means too much to me just to be able to sum it up in a short post. I’ll try my best though, because if there’s one thing Summer School taught me, it’s that no matter how many drinks you had the night before, you still have to write that essay for Estonian class. Which pretty much sums up what TSS can offer to each participant.
Endless learning and partying (usually the other way around).
No, but seriously. Let’s get a bit more realistic here. I mean, I’m here to convince you to take part in this life-changing experience. So for you to believe me, I guess I’ll have to introduce myself first.
The boring part: I’m majoring in Korean Language and Culture, my minor is Estonian, and I also study Portuguese and French for fun. All this in the historical city of Budapest. But you wouldn’t know that, because it’s mostly famous for its nightlife. Not that I would know.
I’m also a 20 year old Hungarian, second time TSSer, hopeless language-addict, and a representative of how to carpe diem a whole month of summer school while actually learning something in the process.
I attended my first TSS in 2016, stumbling my way through Estonian on an “intermediateish” level. That year wasn’t all about studying though. Well, not in the way you think. I did study. A lot. English, French, Korean … heck, even some Estonian!
We had such an international gang that I could easily brush up on all of my language skills. As you can see, TSS doesn’t limit you to the language (or course) of your choice. If you’re clever enough to grasp all opportunities (and I mean participate in group games, which might involve cards… and some drinks), you will leave much richer than you arrived. That is, if you don’t spend all of your money on beer. And must leib. The latter can be seriously addictive.
I’m gonna be honest and admit it: I’m as much of an introvert as a person can get. TSS, however, with its constant creativity to come up with cultural programmes that are too interesting to miss, made me get out of my shell each day and hang out with people with whom I still keep in touch.
Let’s go back to Estonian though, and why I chose it. It’s an amazing language. Estonians are fun people (when they’re drunk), and their language sounds like constant singing (when they’re not drunk). They have words like töööö, kuuuurija and jäääär, which are my personal favorites, and perfectly show the long history Estonians have with fighting off consonants, while also trying to keep all those German, Swedish and Russian troops at bay.
This year, I got sorted into the advanced group, and already after the first week I could feel my Estonian skills lighting up like the fires of Mount Doom. Summer School is as intense as it can get, but also the time of your life (without having to dance with Patrick Swayze in front of a bunch of people, which I’m sure most of us would readily avoid).
I know, my arguments are not that sophisticated, and I’m pretty much your worst choice when it comes to convincing people. However, that might be because I haven’t yet slept off the effects of the last weekend trip, which involved visiting a gorgeous waterfall at night, watching the most amazing (lion kingish) sunset on the beach, and taking a relaxing walk in a castle park with a Swedish, an American and an Austrian friend.
If you’re still not convinced to let yourself take part in a month of intense language learning coupled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences, I have one more argument for you. It’s 22.14 right now, and I just sent my friends home (across the hall) and am currently procrastinating on writing two essays, just so that I could tell you how awesome it is to be a part of TSS, whether it’s once or many times.
As for me, I’ll surely come back, be it two or twenty-two years later. And maybe, just maybe, next time I’ll be that forty year old language enthusiast, still having the time of her life with people aged from eighteen to sixty. Because here, age means only one thing: whether you can still sit on a bicycle, and whether they still ask for your ID in the grocery store.
Just know that I’ll be here, either personally or virtually, stalking your photos of TSS and wishing, with all my heart, that I could start it all over again.
Author: Dorottya “Dorka” Pabst (Tallinn Summer School 2017 participant)