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Tartu, Estonia

Estelle Ciesla

University of Tartu

My name is Estelle Ciesla, and I am a master’s student in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at Stanford. For the past eight weeks, I have been working at the University of Tartu. During those eight weeks I have discovered much about a country and its neighbors that I knew little about before.

This summer was an opportunity for me to learn more about a part of the region of my studies that is, regrettably, often overlooked. Having the opportunity to work at the University of Tartu for the summer made me realize what a great injustice my field of studies does to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. I have discovered incredible countries, rich in life, culture, and history.

Estonia was by far the most surprising country of the three to me. I expected to find a post-Soviet country like the many others I had the chance to visit and live in. I was very surprised to find instead a young, dynamic, developed nation, which was proud of its identity and individuality. Estonia is without a doubt an example for the rest of the region to follow. They have achieved in 31 years what many others could not in centuries. The development of Estonia is certainly phenomenal and worth studying. I thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience this inspiring, radiant country.

The accompanying photo is one I took in Tallinn one memorable August night. I took a liking for stand-up paddling during my stay in the Baltics. One evening, I went paddling at sunset in the Bay of Tallinn. Coincidentally, that night there was also a supermoon taking place. Watching the burning yellow moon rise from below the sea in the orange sky is an image I will never forget. Thank you once again for allowing me to experience moments such as this one which will remain engraved in my memory forever.