Katharina Sowa: Mina jään – I will stay

Katharina Sowa, a German expat living in Estonia, describes her emotions about the country and the reasons why she wants to stay there longer than she had planned.

It was September 2011 when I first set foot on Estonian ground. I still remember the feeling that filled my soul and heart. It was a feeling of arrival, finding the place that is meant for you, a place you have always been searching for. Right at that moment I knew this was the place where I will always return - writes estonianworld.com.

It was August 2015 when I moved to Tallinn for a job in one of the best-known startups of the country. To be honest, it was a rather spontaneous decision, and I had actually never imagined myself moving to Tallinn for real. But so I did, and it was one of the best decisions I had ever made in my life.

In April 2017, I joined the team of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union for the rest of the year. Well, what can I say, working for the presidency was a blast and a great honour. But the presidency ended on 31 December, and I had to think about what will be next.

So now, it is January 2018. I am still here, and I do not want to leave. But why? To get a proper answer to that question, I must reflect and sum up the last two and a half years of my life here.

A country of “firsts”

When thinking about Estonia, for me, it is especially a country of “firsts”.

Estonia is the first foreign country where I have lived and worked. It was Estonia where I dived into the wonderful world of e-state and digital society (not possible in Germany, so far). For the first time, I discovered the mystical secrets of bogs and swamplands. I learned Estonian folk dances. After a childhood trauma, I finally visited a sauna again. And guess what – I love it!

I have gutted fish and smoked them afterwards. I experienced a winter with -20 degrees Celsius and survived. I went to a military parade, something I could have never imagined because it was so strange to me. I built a robot made from Legos and brought it to life. I had the strangest but funniest get-together with a German, a French, two Spaniards and an Iranian at a Ukrainian monastery in Tallinn. Sounds odd, and so it was. And, I was hanging on trees, because yes, why not?

Reflecting all these memories makes me smile because Estonia has offered me a lot of new experiences. The last two and a half years have been intense, in every respect. Two and a half years that have connected me more deeply with this country and have given me the feeling that this is where I belong. Where my heart and soul feel home. I am not saying that I do not belong to my home country anymore, or that I feel less connected with it. It is a feeling of being blessed – because I am home in two different countries.

After a holiday or a visit in Germany, it is a wonderful feeling to arrive back at Tallinn airport. This small and cosy airport has given me so many great emotions because it is my gateway to home. A gateway to a place where I feel free, where I am happy and where I can be and feel myself. And a gateway to very many wonderful people (Estonians and foreigners) who I do not want to miss anymore. People I would never have met if I had not moved to Estonia. People who enrich my life so much.

Mina jään!

But at the end of last year, I had to think about what to do in 2018. The Estonian presidency was over, and I had to think about what will be next. To be frank, I was also thinking about moving back to Germany. But only to give myself some more options. However, I listened to my heart and my inner voice and concluded that I did not want to leave. I will stay. Mina jään! It is not time for me to leave yet, maybe it never will be. Probably because I am much too rooted for that and far too many things keep me away from actually doing it.

Once, another foreigner who is also living and working in Estonia, told me he only wanted to come for a year, maybe two. And now, it has already been seven years for him living here and he does not plan to leave. Maybe this is it. Estonia is probably not the country where you imagine yourself staying for a long time. But then, the country catches you and you prolong your stay. Just a little bit longer. And again, a little bit longer. Until you finally realise you have been here for a long time already and cannot imagine yourself leaving anymore.

“The country catches you and you prolong your stay.”

And moreover, 2018 is a very important year for Estonia. On 24 February, it celebrates its 100th anniversary. One hundred years ago, Estonia proclaimed itself an independent country. A very important milestone in the history of the Estonians, and also for me, this is a very special year. Although I am a foreigner, I feel so deeply connected with this country and I am very excited to celebrate one hundred years of the Republic of Estonia. It would be a very bad decision to leave now, wouldn’t it?

A country on a very good path

Estonia is a wonderful country. Of course, there are still so many things to do and to achieve. Still so many things that could be better. But the country is on a very good path. Estonia deserves to celebrate its 100th anniversary with a lot of pride and self-confidence. The country and its people came a long way to gain their independence; and they made it. And there is still so much we can achieve here. It is a wonderful experience to accompany the country on its way, see its progress, and be part of it.

“Although I am a foreigner, I feel so deeply connected with this country and I am very excited to celebrate one hundred years of the Republic of Estonia.”

There are so many expats who acknowledge all this. Many foreigners who made their way to Estonia, everyone with their own personal story and their own reasons. Many foreigners who came to Estonia and who feel the spirit of this country. A spirit that makes them stay. A spirit that makes them feel connected and home. A spirit that can connect and link all of us, Estonians and expats, to strive for the same goal: a free and independent, tolerant, caring and prosperous Estonia.

Palju õnne, Eesti! Congratulations, Estonia!

Read more news of Tallinn on our site.

KatharinaSowa Minajään
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
2 views in january
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

TALLINN – Russia is seeking integration in Estonia only in words, Kalev Stoicescu, researcher at the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) who is running on the ticket of the Estonia 200 party in the March 3 general elections, said on Wednesday commenting on the words said on the subject by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.  "Russia is the only neighboring state which does not wish -- due to its own interests -- progress in integration...
Former top centrist Evelyn Sepp admitted that she donated money the origin of which was unknown to her to the Center Party in 2006. The former politician claimed other members also engaged in the practice but refused to name names. Sepp’s confession on ETV investigative journalism program «Pealtnägija» does not come as a total bombshell. She first said that such covert funding of parties is a widespread practice in the aftermath of the Silvergate scandal i...
"In addition to our ongoing programme of passenger vessel renovations, we are also continuing to upgrade and modernise our cargo vessels to ensure that we continue to develop this important part of our business," he noted, adding that the relocation of the company's Estonia-Finland cargo route to Muuga on the Estonian side in October 2017 and the launch of the Smart Port solution in Tallinn's Old City Harbour in spring 2018 both contributed to improved ser...
During the final week of 2018, a total of 2,524 patients with viral upper respiratory infections sought medical attention, 47.5% of whom were children. A total of 210 cases of influenza were laboratory confirmed, nearly twice as many as during the week before, according to Health Board data. Over the past two weeks, the number of flu cases has quadrupled. The majority of these cases were laboratory confirmed at emergency medical departments, from which pat...
I actually think that B1 is too low of a bar for attaining citizenship. You still can't participate in Estonian society on anything other than a superficial level as noted above, so I'm not sure how you can constitute a "citizen" on that basis. Naturally there has to be a high degree of arbitrariness, and that's precisely the point — whilst B1 level might be sufficient in German or French (I understand that it is the benchmark level when applying for citiz...
Following a white Christmas throughout most of Estonia, Wednesday will see sleet and even rain in parts of the country, and temperatures hovering around the freezing point will means slippery road conditions. Early Wednesday morning, many major highways were salted or wet, but some patches were still icy, the Estonian Road Administration said. Eastern parts of the country will see scattered rain or sleet. Temperatures throughout the day will remain around...
Last weekend, Christmas Eve as well as Christmas Day and Boxing Day still ahead means that most chemist's shops are closed for five days in a row. Tallinners can still get hold of prescription as well as over-the-counter drugs in the 5 Tõnismägi St and 19 Vikerlase St shops. As doctors' practices are closed for the holidays as well, people will have to turn to the emergency room of a nearby hospital in case of any more serious health problems. In Tallinn,...
Irene Ilves, the mother of former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, died on Tuesday aged 91. Irene Ilves was born on 6 January 1927. An Estonian refugee, she raised her family in New Jersey, on the US East Coast. She is survived by two sons, Andres Eerik and Toomas Hendrik, and four grandchildren, Juulia Kristiine, Luukas Kristjan, Kadri Keiu and Hans Hendrik, Mr Ilves wrote on social media on Wednesday, adding that she will be very missed by family and frie...
Emergency services were called out on Wednesday morning after a man fell through ice at Lake Pühajärv, in South Estonia. The call was received by the Rescue Board at a little after 9.30, though by the time emergency personnel reached the scene, the man, who had walked on to the lake ice to go fishing, had extricated himself and reached dry land. The man stated that he had broken through the ice several times during his ordeal, after venturing about 50 m fr...