One of the first friends I made in college was Anne-Mari Kaur. She is an international student here at Gannon. We met during Intro to Philosophy and became better friends while taking more and more classes together. I sat down with Anne-Mari for a Qn’A to share a little bit about herself.

Q:  Where are you from and what language do you speak?

A:  I am from Tallinn, Estonia.  It is located in northern Europe. We have our own language called Estonian.

Q:  Can you describe what Estonia looks like for someone who has never been there?

kaur tallinn old town

Tallinn’s Old Town

A:  Estonia is a small, but very cute country. There are only 1.3 million people living in Estonia and there are only a couple of bigger cities, which are not comparable with big cities in the United States. In the capital, Tallinn, the population is only around 400,000 people. Most of the country’s border is surrounded by water. Tallinn’s Old Town is breathtaking and it is also part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tallinn is not the only place to see; there are a lot of other places around Estonia which are extraordinary and unique. Also, most of Estonia is covered by forests, which makes it a very relaxed environment. When the sun is shining and it is warm outside (it doesn’t happen a lot, but we get lucky every once in a while), and you are somewhere outside of the city, you just feel happy and relaxed because there isn’t any noise pollution. There is so much nature to be appreciated.  Estonians are very proud of their origin.

kaur estonia trees

Estonian Forest

Q:  What are the people like in Estonia?

A:  Before you get to know them, they are very private. We never talk too much; we only speak up when we have something to say, so small talk for us is hard and worthless.  Estonians are not overly open with strangers; it is harder for us to start a conversation with people we don’t know. Most of the time, people wear a really serious expression on their face which almost looks like they are mad at you. The reason for this cultural difference is mostly because we have been occupied by so many different countries throughout history; it is just in our nature. But once you get to know them, Estonians can be very good friends. We are very hard working people in every area of our lives and we take things seriously, but we can still be fun!

Q:  What do you miss the most from Estonia?

kaur estonia christmas market

Christmas Market in Tallinn

A:  My family, my home and food every once in a while.

Q:  What is your class standing and how long have you been in the United States?

A:  I am a junior. For my freshman year, I went to Midland College, which is located in Texas. After that, I transferred to Gannon University, so this is my third year to be in the States.

Q:  What is your major and what are you involved with at Gannon?

A:  My major is finance, and I am part of the Women’s Volleyball team here at Gannon.

Q:  What was the first major difference you noticed between Estonia and the United States?

A:  People and their lifestyle, which I described when talking about what Estonians are like. Another big difference is the food, especially when I was in Texas. The food over here is more processed and not as healthy as I am used to (but I’m not saying that there are not some amazing food choices, which you wouldn’t be able to find in Estonia).  In Estonia, on the other hand, there are healthier and simpler food options.

Q:  What is your favorite thing about Erie?

A:  The location being close to bigger cities and Gannon University because of the people, who make me feel like I’m part of the family even though my home is thousands of kilometers away.

Contributor note:  All photos were taken by Anne-Mari Kaur.