The boring and non-challenging environment with all its alcohol evenings and sleep-in days had numbed my interests. The 3pm-5am routine has been perfectly compromised by the 7 hour time-difference and finally some other nationalities.

tallinn-old-town-150x150For the past 6 months I’ve been living in Estonia. Only 20 years after gaining independence from Russian control, Estonia is now fully focused on the free-market mechanism and the power of consumption and globalization. All things they relate with westernization are considered hot; Ed Hardy, black mirror ceilings and neon signs included.

Today tourist shops occupy the historically rich buildings in Estonia’s capital Tallinn and all other business has located itself in the shinny buildings east of this old city centre. Girls skipped school when the malls were opened, McDonald’s is a hipsters’ hangout spot and high heels combined with short skirts became uniform in an environment with temperatures as low as -30.

After years of oppression, the people decided to truly deteriorate the little amount of identity and creativity they had left.

When Google-Streetview mapped Toronto with its military efficiency based layout and its skyscrapers I figured I was in for a treat. Ending up in yet another creation of neon advertisement. A city considered the ultimate product of what is desired in Estonia.

How I was wrong.

Tallinn-300x225The culture here is in action rather than in presence. It seems that people are assessed on what they do instead of who they are. A seemingly superficial idea but it allows people to judge only after having talked to one other, creating room for other experiences. I like to believe that this unbiased process that has led to better acceptance of homosexuality and more interracial equality, signs I relate to maturity within a society.

Because of this ability-based judgement the youth here seems to have realized that no one is special until you have achieved something. With all the opportunities in front of them they have to excel in some area in order to become something. It is exciting to see so many youngsters truly believing in what they are doing, especially coming from the Netherlands where sobriety is celebrated and where it is somehow un-cool to sound like you know what you’re talking about.

For the upcoming months I will be working with a Filipino, an Iranian, a Canadian and a Chilean. The chill good vibes and mutual interests illustrates the most stunning thing I noticed about this city; as long as you are truly open for new things, you can inspire each other and create beautiful things.

Jeroen, the intern


Banner is from an exposition called ‘exothermic’ in Eindhoven, the Netherlands

photos are from Tallinn, Estonia.