(text by John C Blackburn)

Tartu is a different town in the summer. The days long and the streets quiet, Tartu is a student’s town, and is exciting when the students are in town. Its charm lies in its youthful atmosphere and historical buildings saved and renovated from before its Soviet days. Raekoja Plats is not only the town centre, but also the centre of all activity. The streets and the fun all radiate from Raekoja Plats and a long night may end, at Zavood.

Settling into town at the beginning of the winter term it’s hard to imagine the brutality of Estonian winters, but those long days soon turn to long nights. Even when there is four hours of daylight it’s hard to call the weak light sunshine. But the ever still exciting student life gets anyone through the tough winters. Naturally those winters make great hours for studying as our course is highly demanding. Under snow Tartu is a medieval winter wonderland, like a fairy-tale! 

When it seems like spring will never come, suddenly the days are long again and Tartu’s many parks turn green. The term winds down and that carefree student life turns to exams. Summer comes again, and alas the students go home and the town is quiet again.

I knew nothing of Estonia prior to arriving; I felt like a real life Paddington Bear (Paddington Station being the start of my travels) with a note attached to a buttonhole in my jacket reading “Please look after this bear. Thank you,” and thank you Tartu, you did.

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