A grain of salt: raha is essential in Samuel’s decision to study in TalTech
We are not sure what would be the first Estonian words that international students learn in TalTech. For Samuel, it is definitely raha or a deviation of it: full tuition fee waiver. Studying in BSc Integrated Engineering for merely one semester, Samuel not only went around the town appreciating the historical Summer Palace and modern light festivals, but also blended well as an active student, though occasionally puzzled by various communication channels deployed by lecturers and tutors. Student Counselling Office definitely helped Samuel find focus and direction navigating around seemingly complicated systems.
Salt was the most precious of commodities of ancient times. Therefore it becomes a fitting parable that Samuel first got lost and later found his “salt” in the local bearings.
Samuel, what brought you to TalTech and Estonia? How long have you been living in Tallinn?
I used to study in the UK, but it was quite expensive and consequently I had to go home. Later I found Tallinn University of Technology, TalTech.
At first I thought “yeah, this is cheap”, then I got an offer and was astonished when it said “FULL TUITION WAIVER”. That is the beginning of my story. Yeah, now I am here studying Integrated Engineering.
What are the most memorable moments during your studying at TalTech?
I am still making a lot of them. It´s snowing now and a few of my Estonian friend have promised we will go skiing, but my best thus far would be the Wandering Light Festival at Kadriorg Park on the 19th of September. The Summer Palace was beautiful, which the Russian czar Peter the Great built for his wife Catherine I.
I had to say something about the student counsellors at TalTech. Honestly it has been a long time since I was last in an academic environment. Understandably I was overwhelmed at first by the tempo at which information and activities coming at me. Then I had a word with a friend and she suggested seeing the student counsellor. And boy, wasn’t it helpful? Four sessions and I was hyped and getting myself properly set and meeting deadlines.
I also remember having trouble finding salt in the local store and I shared my experience during one of my Estonian language and culture classes with my mates. We all laughed about it and it was nice, only to be treated the following week with a gift rapped up so nice you would think it was a bundle of ‘raha’ [raha means money in Estonian language]. No, it was salt, I really felt loved.
What are your favourite courses or subjects in the study programme? Why?
Mathematics because I have kinda always been a maths guy. I will add that the maths tutors are quite available and direct. I also like the Programming due to the interactive nature of classes and the approachability of tutors.
Entrepreneurship would be my new favourite and that´s because I have kind of a knack for business for a few years now and the way a seed could just grow into something so feasible is invigorating.
If you need to describe Estonia in one sentence to a total stranger, what would you say?
It´s an interesting place with a veneer of subtlety.
The Estonian people are quite reserved but when you get close and they open up. They are the most gracious and generous and interesting friends, with ridiculously bizarre sense of humour.
Would you recommend TalTech and BSc Integrated Engineering to other students? Why?
I definitely would recommend TalTech. The courses are quite practical and they have all sorts of scholarships to motivate you. If you are hardworking enough, you will end up being paid to study here and I love it. I love the diversity on campus; don’t let me started on that. I have made friends from six nations since I got here six months ago.
Do you have any suggestions to TalTech or your Faculty so that we could improve teaching and research quality?
Well, the lecturers are not easy to reach when you need some personal tutoring. You try to reach them by email, sometimes you don’t get a reply, sometimes you do and it’s saying something you don’t want to hear.
There are so many systems, some lecturers use Moodle, some ÕIS, others use social media and some would tell you to go and find their Taltech.ee page. How I wish there were a single system for everyone and you could get a hold of these guys a lot easier.
Any other comments, tips, advice that you would like to share with potential international students?
Get a thick winter jacket.
What would be the first Estonian words that you will learn? Who are your favourite Student Counsellors? What are the items that you have trouble finding in local stores? Where are your friends come from? What are your favourite subjects? How thick is your winter jacket? … You will find the very salt of the earth when you start applying to TalTech.