The ninth interview in our collaboration with the "Tallinn City Center New Arrivals Project" is with Pablo from Chile.
Pablo came to Tallinn from southern Chile, as so often happens, because of work. Pablo was told that if he wanted to learn about the digital market that Estonia was the right place. So, he came to Tallinn, "a city that nobody has heard about", and found the place to be quite pleasant despite it being in the midst of the frigid winter season.
A so-called "silent mode" of locals was a shock to Pablo: Estonians proved to be much more reserved in comparison to the expressive and extroverted people of his home continent.
"Nobody was interested in going out after work with me. Life here felt slower than in Chile. No one is rushing anywhere, many prefer to spend more time at home," Pablo said. However, he was pleasantly surprised by the international community in Tallinn - many people from all over the globe live here today. The everyday presence of digital solutions in the life of Estonians was also in contrast with what Pablo had experienced living back at home.
Pablo is lucky enough to have quite a few local friends. Some of them he obtained through work, and others by taking part in Crossfit training. "It certainly did not happen overnight. Getting close to Estonians required some effort," Pablo shared. However, he has learned Estonia's ways and now plans to stay long-term. Buying an apartment is also part of Pablo's plan. "I like the local culture and the quality of life in general. I grew into understanding Estonians on a deeper level and now I like them a lot".
I asked Pablo a tricky question about what things he would be happy to import to Estonia from his home country:
"If I could, I would import Chilean food here. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like the food in Estonia. I also understand where the local food culture is coming from - a hundred years ago, there were not as many spices in the local market for geographical reasons. Nevertheless, I crave authentic Chilean food here from time to time," he replied with a chuckle.
"I would love to have more Southern American music here too, with its energy and positive vibes. For example, Cumbia, a tropical, South American style of music, is especially good for dancing and parties. With Cumbia, it's not about a synthetic sound, you have a really big orchestra playing in the background.
"I also miss the mountains. In my country, we have 4,000 kilometres of mountains, they are everywhere. I can only imagine how it would be to see such a city as pretty as Tallinn from the top of the mountain," Pablo concluded with a wistful smile.
Pablo is very happy with his career in Estonia: "I do my job, and also have time and energy left for my side projects. I am sure that I have not achieved all of that in my home country. Chile's employers are obsessed with university titles. For them, it's all about what program you studied, what university you attended, and even which school you went to. I have a bachelor's in law, but I never truly liked this field. My present job is about marketing. I have learned most of what I know on the site, like Facebook ads, Google analytics, and other technical things about content creation. It is funny though, I initially began in sales, and I was terrible at it, like really bad (laughs). Then I got the opportunity to do some writing, and from there it went well".
I asked Pablo what the most difficult part of his adaptation journey in Estonia has been: "The most difficult time for me in Estonia was the first winter. I did not have many friends, so I spent a lot of time on my own. At one point, I even started to consider leaving Estonia. After some time, I just got used to the environment, the weather, and learned how to enjoy it. It struck me that all I needed at this point in my life was just to find new things to do. For example, I joined Crossfit training and tried winter swimming."
Pablo recalled an experience with hostility towards him as a foreigner. "One guy on a bus told me that I should go back to my country. I've had a few situations like this here in Estonia, but it does not affect me too much. I know that there are racist people everywhere, Chile is no exception. Every country has stupid people who see privilege or its absence in the place of origin. For me, these people must feel very empty if the only thing which makes them proud is their place of birth."
I asked Pablo about his romantic experiences in Estonia: "It was not easy. I noticed a lot of cultural differences in the way that we express our affection. Latin Americans love taking care of their loved ones and are heavily involved in it. Estonians seem to be much more independent. For example, if someone close to you gets sick, we genuinely want to visit them. For people of my culture, it is not enough to just check on your loved one by phone or messenger and recommend them to call an ambulance if things get worse. Another thing, with Estonian women you cannot be too direct, because they see this approach as overwhelming. And let's be honest, we… can be a lot. We are too sensitive and emotional to Estonian women. However, the good thing is that we are well aware of this," he laughed.
On friendship and family: "I love having barbecues with my friends at Stroomi beach. When you live in a foreign country, your friends are your family. As for my real family, we call each other every two weeks and exchange pictures over messenger daily. My mum and brother visited me a few years ago, and my father also plans to come to see me. The distance can be hard, but even before I departed from Chile, I had a conversation with my family. They told me that they have also known that I will move away one day. I just have it in me - curiosity and adventurousness. There's one thing which makes me extremely sad, however: if I were to have children in Estonia, I won't be able to bring them to see my grandma on weekends."
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Editor: Helen Wright