'Settle in Estonia' programme proves popular despite pandemic

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A "Settle in Estonia" meeting. Source: Siim Kumpas.

In 2020, the "Settle in Estonia" programme remained popular for new arrivals despite the pandemic and a move to online learning. There were 1,950 participants last year.

Martin Lään, one of the founders of Expat Relocation Estonia OÜ, the contractual partner of the programme said that 2020 was full of challenges due to the virus pandemic, but the courses were still held online.

"Video webinars have even added some flexibility, especially for the participants who do not live in Tallinn, Tartu or Narva, where our courses normally take place. Online learning fives them an opportunity to take part in our courses as well," Lään talked about the pluses of web-based learning.

The programme provides courses that cover general aspects of living in Estonia, such as, managing administrative operations, customs, traditions, cultural peculiarities as well as more specific knowledge about entrepreneurship, work, studying, family life, and research modules. The course is aimed at new arrivals who have lived in Estonia for five years or less.

Lään said participants are generally highly motivated who want to learn as much as possible about Estonia.

"Those who sign up for the courses within the programme are extremely enthusiastic learners who want to feel at home in Estonia, understand its culture and customs, and are eager to learn the language at the beginner's level. In our evening language group that started recently there was a student whose background during the video conference classes seemed to be flooded with sunlight. We found out the person was in Brazil at the moment and was waiting for an opportunity to go back home to Estonia as soon as the restrictions caused by the pandemic were lifted. In the meantime, learning Estonian seemed a good idea for a leisure activity," Lään said.

In 2021, all the courses have been held online so far, but classroom sessions are to resume as soon as possible.

In 2020, temporary residence permits were granted to 8,034 foreigners, which is fewer than the 9,081 residence permits issued in 2019.  

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Editor: Helen Wright

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