Estonia and Estonians: 15 things I learned so far

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Expat in Estonia
Expat in Estonia
  1. Estonia is a digital society

Estonia is known as the most digital society in the world and to be honest, it really feels like I am living in the internet. These people don’t really know what “cash” is, they can vote online, they can connect their ID to their computers and foreigners can become e-residents of Estonia and open a bank account remotely.

  1. Estonians love sauna

Estonians are in love with going to the sauna… naked; it can be quite a cultural shock to enter a sauna full of naked people, while you have your bathing suit on and are wrapped in a very long towel. Also, it is quite popular for Estonians to have saunas in their houses or even apartments. Spa day every day!

  1. Estonians are proud of their country

So far, I haven’t met one single local who isn’t proud of Estonia or of being Estonian. They truly value their country, their flag, their traditions and their language.

  1. Estonian language is as difficult as they say it is

Every time I ask Estonians to help me translate a sentence, they seem to come up with a million ways of saying the same thing; they also like to argue with each other regarding what the correct version of the sentence is. I haven’t given up on learning the language, but I must admit it is a challenge!

  1. Estonians are not religious

This country is the least religious country in the world.

  1. The family is the central focus of social life

Even though it is not very common for couples to get officially married, Estonians are really focused on family life. The country also heavily supports dedicating enough time for raising children, by offering one of the longest maternity leaves in the world.

  1. Estonians are quiet and reserved

Small talk is not an Estonian thing. Period.

  1. Estonians are very punctual

Here people are never late and get quite uncomfortable when other people are late; especially during business meetings.

  1. Estonians like the word “normal”

Almost every Estonian answer could be normaalne or normalselt.

  1. Estonians are nationalistic about Skype

Do not contradict Estonians when they say they invented Skype. The 7th characteristic on this list could rapidly change in that kind of situation.

  1. Estonians like sarcasm

Most Estonian humour is based on sarcasm. I still don’t get their jokes.

  1. Estonians are proud of their biggest mountain

Suur Muna Mägi is the highest point in Estonia and everybody calls it a mountain. Its name directly translates to Big Egg Mountain. It’s 318 m.

  1. Estonians work a lot

Estonians are hardworking people, who will do anything to get the job done properly.

  1. Estonians put ketchup/sour cream/mayonnaise on everything

If Estonians like the food, they will add ketchup/sour cream/mayonnaise to it. If they don’t like the food, they will still add one or all of the above to make it taste better.

  1. Estonians speak at least 3 languages

It is quite normal for Estonians to speak Russian and English, besides their mother tongue. Some of them also speak Finnish or German, as well. Magicians of languages!

I’ll update this list with new things I learn about this country, as time goes by. ‘Till then, let me know what you know about Estonia and Estonians in the comments below!

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