Tallinn City Center Expat Chat: Jacobina from Mexico

Jacobina from Mexico.
Jacobina from Mexico. Source: Private collection.

The tenth interview in our collaboration with the "Tallinn City Center New Arrivals Project" is with Jacobina from Mexico.

This interview was carried out by Svetlana Štšur project manager of "Tallinn City Center New Arrivals Project" at Tallinn City Center (Kesklinn) Government with support from the European Social Fund. 

Every month, Štšur will interview an expat living in Tallinn and discuss why they moved to Estonia, what they like about the capital and their experiences in Estonia.

Jacobina from Mexico 

Jacobina is from Mexico. She has been living in Estonia for three years, and refers to her journey settling here as "fate". It all started with Jacobina quitting her job on the cruise ship and deciding to see the World Cup in Saint-Petersburg with her Argentinian friend. The funny thing is, Jacobina is hardly a football fan...

 "I took the cheapest flight I could to Helsinki. Before traveling to Finland I was told that it's worth visiting Tallinn on my way to Saint-Petersburg. So I arrived in Tallinn from the ferry." Jacobina liked the place immediately, but she could hardly imagine living in Tallinn long-term just yet. At a hostel, she met a guy from America and they quickly hit it off. They spent a few days together in Tallinn before Jacobina headed to Saint-Petersburg, but those two days were truly perfect. 

After the World Cup, Jacobina headed to the United States. In the U.S., she reunited with her American lover and was even introduced to his family. Initially, she had a plan to go to work in France, but her love for her American boyfriend changed the course of destiny: the couple decided to move to Estonia together. Jacobina found work in a restaurant in Tallinn but after a few months, she found herself in a customer service specialist position in an IT company. After some time, Jacobina received a promotion and moved to another position.  

While Jacobina's professional life took a new positive turn, her love story with the American came to an end. However, it did not affect her life in Estonia. Jacobina attributes her successful adaptation to her traveling experience and personality: "I am just the kind of person who goes there and smiles and sees what happens. I've traveled to 73 countries, and this has also made me very adaptable."

The only thing which came as a surprise to Jacobina is that Estonians do not seem to appreciate too much physical contact: "Hugging a lot and being touchy is very natural for me, as it is a very important part of Mexican culture. In Mexico we hug and approach everyone, even people you just meet and who were complete strangers to you a minute ago..."

Jacobina has lived in several areas in Tallinn: "My first place in Estonia was at Suur-Karja Street in the Old Town. Then I moved to a creepy Soviet-era apartment in Raua neigborhood. The apartment was very dark and there was always some strange noise occurring through the night. Mysteriously, the closet always opened at 3 a.m. with a very unsettling sound like in a horror movie. I learned after some time that the previous owner of the apartment killed himself. Perhaps that is why the rent for the place was so cheap," Jacobina said with a laugh.

After the forboding city center apartment, Jacobina moved to a Mustamäe apartment next to the market. Jacobina recalls her market visitation experiences: "It was funny. I have picked up some Russian food-related expressions quite fast. Each time I spoke in Russian to the saleswomen, they seemed very surprised (laughs)."

Currently, Jacobina is living in Kalamaja: "Kalamaja is safe and super hipster. To be fair, Tallinn is safe to me in general. I can dress the way I want and nobody will pay any attention to it or harass me. I have been all around the city, in Lasnamäe, Kopli, Uus Maailm, and I feel safe everywhere."

When Jacobina compares herself to her friends back home, she can certainly see her privileged position: "With a similar degree and professional background, my friends can hardly attain the same standard of living in Mexico as I can here in Estonia. Recently I have found an amazing apartment that I am very fond of, and my cats love it too!" (Jacobina adopted two cats from a shelter in Estonia).

Jacobina also noticed that even though Estonians do prefer to keep some distance from people, they are always willing to help: "It happened to me quite a few times. I was trying to get some information about a family doctor or something by phone. I remember calling some office, and a person on the other end of the phone did not speak any English, so we finished the conversation. However, a few minutes later, an English-speaking employee called me back and answered all of my questions."

In addition to her main job, Jacobina started a Mexican food project called 'Secret Mexican Society'. "Estonians like to try our new foods, and I have noticed that Estonians are particularly fond of Mexican. It could be because of soap operas, I have heard locals coming up with some super random phrases in Spanish (laughs). The issue is that there are not many authentic Mexican eating places in Tallinn, more like tex mex restaurants, which are adapted to the European taste. Secret Mexican Society cooks real Mexican food from my grandma recipes, something that you can find in the streets of Mexico day and night." 

To the question "what does Estonia mean to you?" Jacobina responded with a single word: "Home". Jacobina also has a tattoo of a cornflower on her wrist and she is planning to get another one: "I don't speak Estonian yet but there is just one phrase that I love in the Estonian language so much: "ma olen õnneseen", which is a direct translation of "I am a happy mushroom". I continue to travel, and next month I am going back to Mexico for a little while, but I already know that I will gladly return to my little Baltic corner, where I do feel like a lucky happy mushroom."

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Editor: Helen Wright

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