TT: Welcome to Pennsylvania teacher, Nicole, who as some brilliant resources for traveling and studying in Eastern Europe! Nicole, tell us about yourself.
Nicole: My name is Nicole and I have been teaching since 2005 in the Pittsburgh area. I have taught in various school district but I currently teach at Agora Cyber Charter School.
The travel bug infected me when I was in the 11th grade. My social studies teacher went to Russia, then part of the Soviet Union. When he returned, he filled us with wonderful and exciting stories. At that point I knew I needed to see this place for myself. I am happy to say that I have made it to Russia, twice, plus many other counties.
TT: Awesome! How do you structure your travels?
N: I have traveled throughout Europe, and my next adventure is to China with GEEO (Global Exploration for Educators Organization). I attempt to couple my travels with educational opportunities such as a conference or a summer course.
TT: What was the most memorable travel opportunity you found?
N: The most memorable opportunity was taking part in the Tallinn Summer School. This is a three week program occurring every July that offers undergraduate and graduate courses in languages and social sciences. The best way to describe it is that it is the perfect mix between adventure and academics. I have participated in the program three times but have returned to Estonia may more. Tallinn University also offers a Winter School during the month of January.
TT: Tell us more about Estonia.
N: Estonia is a small country located on the Baltic sea with Russia, Latvia, and Finland as neighbors. I was surprised at first with how many beach communities there are in this country. Most of my time was spent in the capital, Tallinn but I have also visited Tartu. Tallinn’s Old Town is a preserved medieval town – if you are a history enthusiast this is a must see. Tallinn also has modern architecture with a Nordic feel.
TT: What else should people know about the summer courses you attended in Estonia?
N: The Summer School offers three week or one week courses. There are students from all over the world that attend this school but the school’s main language is English.
Additionally, a cultural program is arranged that includes tours, movies, and culinary treats. One year an add-on trip on the Trans-Siberian railway was offered.
TT: Wow! Did you do the Trans-Siberian Railroad?!
N: Of course I was the first to sign-up and I was able to full-fill my lifelong dream of going to Russia. It was as magnificent as I imagined. The most memorable moment of this trip was standing in Red Square and looking at Lenin’s Mausoleum. I said a silent prayer and thanked Mr. Honse (11th grade social studies teacher) for taking me here through his stories and therefore leading me here twenty year later.
TT: Love it. What final thoughts do you have?
N: Although the courses and Russia trip were unforgettable, it was the connections that I made that make Estonia near to my heart. I continue to return to the Summer School and Estonia because of the people. Relationships were created that will last this lifetime and the next.
TT: Thanks so much, Nicole. Readers, what questions or comments do you have?