I once read somewhere that January is the worst month of the year in Estonia and, well, I have to agree with that: it’s cold and dark, there isn’t much to do other than studying for a couple of exams if you didn’t take them all already, and the Christmas festivities are long gone. The best solution would be to escape to a warmer country in the meantime, but if you have already spent too much on food, gifts and trips in December like me (totally worth it, though!), that’s not an option. So, how to survive January in Estonia? Here are some ideas:
1. Go see some art at the KUMU Art Museum
I must confess that I have never been to this museum (I will follow my own advice and go there one of these days), but everyone who has been there tells me it’s really nice. The permament exhibition shows Estonian art works from the 18th century until the end of the Soviet occupation and there are some other temporary exhibitions as well (you can read about them here). The building of the museum itself is really nice, located on a hill right next to Kadriorg. The tickets for students cost 6 euros.
2. Go see a cool submarine at the Seaplane Harbour
Now that Patarei is closed *cries uncontrolably*, the Seaplane Harbour has become my favorite museum in Tallinn. This part of the Maritime Museum is awesome because it’s located inside what used to be a hangar, so the space is huge. The best part of it is going inside an old icebreaker and an authentic submarine from the 1930s; there’s also currently an exhibition about Vikings, so that should be nice as well. But you do have to go in January because the museum will close for renovations during February. The entrance for students is 7 euros.
3. Take some friends and try (to) Exit
Several places like these have appeared all over Europe lately, and Tallinn is no exception. The idea of Exit Room is that you get locked up in a themed room (like a KGB office or a surgery room) and with the help of some clues and your best deductive skills, you have to solve some puzzles to figure out a way to exit the room within an hour. All of us ambassadors went there a few months ago and it was really fun. The price is 65 euros per team, which isn’t cheap, I know, but if you get a team of 4 people, then it’s not so bad and totally worth it.
4. Add more skills to your CV by taking a free course at Coursera
Coursera is a really cool webpage where many well-known universities offer courses on a very wide variety of topics. Want to learn more about social media marketing? No problem! Want to reinforce what you learned on that applied physics course you just took? There should be something there for you! Or do you want to learn more about Egyptology just because you love History? That should be there too. You can take most of these courses at your own pace, so even if they are intended to last 5 weeks or so, you can take them in a week with no problems. And the best about it all: it’s for free! So there really is no excuse 🙂
5. Refine that business idea that’s been floating in your head for a while
Tallinn is known for being the home of many successful start-ups (ever heard of #EstonianMafia?), and there are a few places that can help you develop your plans and take them to the next level. Examples of these include TTU’s very own Mektory, which has several incubation programs throughout the year, and Garage48, which hosts hackathons every week where you can present your business idea, get help from mentors and feedback from audience members. So put these winter weather conditions and free time to good use and start working on your ideas!
6. Buy a good book and get comfortable in one of Tallinn’s cozy cafés
Even though TTU’s library has quite a big and good selection for your studies, the same cannot be said about its literature section. That is understandable since it is a technical university’s library, after all. Fortunately, there are a couple of bookstores that have a decent selection of books in English (and even a few more in other languages as well), so regardless of whether you are Elon Musk’s fan and want to read his biography or would like to read some classics like Orwell’s 1984 or are into Nordic Noir and interested in Jo Nesbo or Stieg Larsson, there should be something for you in one of Tallinn’s bookstores. Then you can take your book and get comfortable in a nice café like Caffeine at Narva mnt, Reval Café or Boheem in Telliskivi, La Muu inside Rahva Raamat or Must Puudel in the Old Town.
You can also check the website culture.ee to learn more about all the events that take place in Tallinn, you’ll be surprised by the huge amount of things that are going on in the city, even with this weather!