Welcoming “ceremony”, bones, and egg-shots?!

If I ever thought I was busy before I was wrong. Life has been hectic, full of new experiences (new, even though I’ve been here for 2 months already), struggles, and (sadly) egg-shots, but I’ll return to those later.

My life has revolved around bones (the vertebral column – check, thoracic and pelvic limbs – check, and now the skull), microscopes, and lab coats. My days follow a very ritualistic pattern; shower, eat, *insert the above story*, sleep, repeat.

My subjects for this autumn semester include

  • informatics and biometry (lectures and practical works – have I ever told you how incompatible me and computers are??)
  • Latin for specific purposes (I have encountered the first teacher I utterly dislike… I can’t even point out what it is I dislike… all I know is I feel I’m learning nothing, the lessons are a pain as soon as they start, but I force myself through them… wow! Did I mention I know what “rhubarb juice” is in Latin? Rhubarb juice?!?! How is that “for specific purposes”??)
  • Cell and molecular biology (lectures and lab works – microscopes galore! I have seen my cells, have you? 😉 )
  • Animal biology (only lectures and an exam so far, I am willing to share my knowledge on the sex life of sponges, snails, and tarantulas, but that will have to be a post of its own)
  • Anatomy of domestic animals (bones, bones, bones, and more bones! Next; joints and muscles and all that good stuff! Meditating under the skeleton of a giraffe, pretending the atlas of a cat is a ring, scratching my back with the rib of a cow, and more 😀 So much fun! … oh, did I mention oral exams! Despite the madness that follows I love it!)
  • Histology, cytology and embryology (microscopes galore – again! I love this subject, I love the teacher, I love the slides, I love trying to zoom in on all sorts of miniscule things and drawing them… No, really, I love it ❤ )
  • Estonian for foreigners (another one of my favourite subjects; learning this funny language! I still can’t believe how strange it is… koer on rihma otsas = the dog is on a leash (more fun is you know Finnish)… I don’t want this course to end, but we have an exam on 3rd of November…)
  • Biochemistry (lectures and labs – the white labcoat has become a symbol of test tubes and strange pipettes to me! Did I mention I have made an explosion, not once, but twice! Once with some crazy acid and the test tube exploded, the other time it was just a firework of fumes and sparks 😛 Oh, and last time I was grinding up leaves using a mortar and pestle just like Jamie Oliver taught!)

Now, the welcoming “ceremony” I’m talking about took place last Tuesday. It was a calm and peaceful biochemistry lecture, until a bunch of 5th year students stormed in and told us to dress in trash bags.
We then got new make up in the form of whiskers and… an egg-shot, which they labeled as a “vaccine”… This shot is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted (or seen!)…

It is as simple as this; a raw quail’s egg and vodka – yum! The crazy thing is I’ve had two of those during my two months here… that’s one each month… If the same pace continues I’m going to down around 10 of those each year, multiply that by six years (duration of studies) and you have 60 f-ing quail eggs lined up with vodka!

What else did we have to do? We had to build an animal out of a pile of bones (dogs, cats, cows, horses and beavers thrown together.. it was a beautiful sight), determine how many legs a “calf” had (it was a dog toy inside a “birth-simulation-practice-box-wannabe-cow”), and a number of other things, including suturing a stuffed toy, with a water balloon inside.

My favourite task of the day was definitely the part where we dissected a calf.

Yes, you read that right! We went into a room, and there were two dead calves on display. Our task was to locate the spleen and lungs, and get them on a tray. I was the bravest in my group, so I did the cutting and digging 😉 You’d be surprised how easy it is to cut through the sternum of a calf using nothing but a pair of bush clippers! was surprised how easy it was to block out the smell of blood; just focus on what you’re doing! Of course the calf in this case was dead, and I don’t imagine cutting into a live baby cow to be anywhere near as easy.

Not my group, but the same calf

I leave you with this image and make a return to my cell and molecular biology exam questions (test coming up on Thursday).

Just kidding, I leave you with this view! University main building, lovely autumn colours, life is great here in Estonia!

//jz

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Apple tasting and the strawberry town!

On 31.8 our orientation week program was a trip to the Polli Horticultural Research Centre of EMÜ and a guided tour in the city of Viljandi. In Polli we got to taste all kinds of different apple varieties (including a couple of Finnish ones) and learn about the research they do in the apple gardens, berry collections and “helping entrepreneurs with research and product development” (don’t know how many times those very words were uttered during the few hours we spent there…)

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After the apples were all gone we left for Viljandi. It was such a cute town with quite a rich history. Some of the green areas looked like they were part of a museum; flowers at every corner, old trees, small fountains, old buildings with newly painted walls… it was beautiful.

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The city symbol – strawberries! There was an artist who made a painting with people eating strawberries and the strawberry ended up being the symbol of Viljandi 🙂

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The bridge leading to the old castle ruins. It was restored in 1995 and is now, according to our guide, “quite safe” 😉

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One of my classmates posing with Mr(s). Frog We saw this beauty at the ruins and, being vetmed students we had to give it some love 😛

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Another shot of Mr(s). Frog – so cute!

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The view… stunning! The lake is 4,7km long, and there’s a song about the Viljandi boatman 🙂

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The castle ruins… more like a tenth of them to be honest! The castle was built on three “hills” and this was on the top one

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Sorry for the bad quality of the two last pictures…. Facebook downloads… don’t know what happened there…

School starts tomorrow – I can’t wait!!

//jz

Exploring Tartu by foot

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Emajõgi

walking along Emajõgi

walking along Emajõgi

spot the ducks ;)

spot the ducks 😉

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let’s make things easier for you

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Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square)

Kissing Students-statue

Kissing Students-statue

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Looks exactly like Diego... Maybe they're related ;)

Looks exactly like Diego… Maybe they’re related 😉

Cathedral ruins

Cathedral ruins

Decorations on the lampposts; you could

Decorations on the lampposts; you could “build” the persons by spinning the wooden blocks, quite a neat idea 🙂

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At the bus station (bussijaam), I bought lovely apple nectar, and Yaris snapped a picture of me “advertising” it 😛

There will probably be many posts like this with mostly pictures, because “a picture is worth more than a thousand words” 🙂 So far I’m loving it here; the weather’s been great (there was one windy day… Tuesday I think, but other than that it’s been sunny, hot and wonderful!), the people are great, and I’ve survived with my very limited Estonian skills 😉

//jz

Elamisluba ja ID-kaardi

Residence permit and ID-card – check!

Two of my future classmates met me at the dormitory, and we walked to the Population Registry Office together. The woman spoke enough English to help us fill in the paperwork, and we got our Estonian ID-codes 😀

Because we’re girls, and girls like chocolates, we stopped by at a Kalev-store (Estonian candy maker). I bought a bag with the 7 favourites of Kalev’s confections (very similar to the Fazerin Parhaat-mix we get in Finland). The bag (it was big) was only 2,40€ (wouldn’t have bought it had it been more expensive). I figured it’s a good way to try each of the confections without spending a fortune buying each separately. So far I’ve only tried four; Mesikäpp (chocolate with honey crumbs inside), Tallinn (rum flavoured wafer candy, surprisingly good!), Tõmmu (rum flavoured fondant candy, surprisingly good for a rum candy!) and Ananass (pineapple flavoured wafer candy, didn’t taste like pineapple, more citrus-y, but it was good nonetheless) 🙂

I also got a confirmation e-mail from my student insurance company, which makes me feel much more at ease… I won’t have to worry! I can’t believe there are people who go without insurances… of course you hope you won’t need it, but that if you do and you don’t have one?! Thankyou mom for convincing me it’s a good investment 🙂

What else..? Oh, I’ve met 2 out of 3 roommates; a girl from Germany who will only stay here until 24.8 because she’ll study at Tartu Ülikool (Univesity of Tartu) and move to their dorm (Erasmus program, 6 months), and a guy from France who will stay here (at Eesti Maaülikool, Estonian University of Life Sciences) for half a year (also a six month Erasmus program) 🙂 both of them are nice, and it’s so much fun for me to speak English and bring back my French a bit 🙂

Today I also got a preliminary program for our orientation week (24.8–>) – seems nice! A lot to do, a lot to consider, a lot to learn 🙂 I will most certainly not join the trip to the local beer factory (with a beer tasting included, 5€ to join), but I’m strongly considering all the other trips 🙂 It’s all starting to feel real now; I’m here, in Estonia, in Tartu, going to start my university studies, wow…!

I can’t believe how fast today has gone by! It’s already almost dinnertime! I still have some tuna-tomato-bean-pasta left hahaha Been eating it for 2 days already 😛 And I have at least 3 or 4 portions left in the freezer… gosh…
Oh, did I mention watermelon is supercheap over here! In the supermarket it’s 0,25€/kg!! (prize has been between 25 and 40 cents from what I’ve seen, supermarket, market place…). The nectarines are delicious, as are plums and apples! I love this place! 😀

Off to have some food now 🙂

//jz

P.S. As you can probably tell by the number of smileys I’ve used, I’m liking it here! The city, the weather, the atmosphere, the town, the people, everything 🙂

Tere tulemast Tartusse!

Or simply “welcome to Tartu!” 🙂

I arrived here on the 15th (this past Saturday). The night between Friday and Saturday I got roughly 5 hours of sleep (and I spent at least one hour crying my eyes out because I was so sad to leave the dogs, cats, frogs and snails (maybe my family too) behind. 😥

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We came to Estonia by ferry (2½ hours from Helsinki to Tallinn), and from there to Tartu by car (186 km, about 2 hours). I absolutely fell in love with the Estonian countryside! The fields that go on for as far as the eye can see, the old trees growing right next to the road, the cute little houses along the way… everything was so beautiful!

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20150815_155437I can’t wait for my blister (got it yesterday…) to heal up so I can get back to exploring the city full time. I’ve ventured into the nearby park, the grocery stores and the city centre (once, with a classmate).

Tomorrow we’re going to sort out some residence permits, and I will try to get my hands on a map of the city (can’t believe I haven’t done that yet… oh well! I haven’t ventured far enough to get lost yet! 🙂 )

I was in complete denial of this whole moving-living-studying abroad thing until now. I knew it was going to happen, but I chose not to accept the fact it was happening this soon. However, I’ve settled in quite nicely… but I’m scared of the language! Ma ei räägi Eesti keelt veel (I was trying to say “I don’t speak Estonian yet”..) I walk around with my “Smooth travelling in Estonian”-book (Sujuvaa matkaa Virkosi), I read every single sign at least twice, I try my best to pick up anything someone says… We’ll see how it goes! On 25th of August a course called Estonian for foreigners will start, so I’m hoping to learn something before that, and a lot during that course… I don’t like not being able to communicate properly…

Luckily I have 6 years to learn!!

//jz