We'll be starting the new year with a new exciting story about an exciting exchange journey in Austria. Say hello to our EBS Student Council's International Club Manager - Triin Kikkas!
Hey there! I’m Triin, foreigners call me "train" or "dream" cause that’s how they spell my name in English. So, who am I really? I have many roles, starting from being a daughter and finishing with being an employee in a company. I’m a 3rd-year student in EBS, field manager in the International Club of EBS Student Council and I also have a job. My hobbies are quite creative- dancing, journaling, I love to read and play the piano. I have a warm heart and I love adventures.
Three most interesting facts about yourself?
I can speak a little bit of Latvian, and not only how to say ice cream.
I like to go winter swimming, especially when it is ice and snow, it makes it more magical.
My surname is Kikkas which in English sounds like kick-ass and that is why some foreigners say I’m a badass.
Tell us more about your exchnage experience in Austria - which university did you go to and how was the life there?
The university in Austria that I chose was Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien. It was exactly when the global pandemic was starting, I had so many doubts about whether I should go or not but I’m happy that I went.
Therefore, I honestly had tough times there - my flight got cancelled, I had to go to the emergency room in the first 2 weeks when I got there, I also caught the corona virus in Austria etc. So, yes, it was intimidating, and I had to go through those tough times alone there, but the truth is, it only made me a stronger person. People are very friendly there and I didn't feel helpless. I definetly started to see life from a different angle, and it feels amazing looking back now and realizing that it was a hell of a ride and I have no regrets. I’m so grateful for this experience, it taught me a lot.
Adjusting to life in Vienna was great, it felt different, and I constantly had this feeling like I was travelling.
What were the biggest differences that you noticed between Austria and Estonia?
More friendly people. I must say that in Estonia, a worker, who is cleaning the street at 5 am in the morning, is usually extremely grumpy, but in Austria, they smile at you at 5 am and say “Guten Morgen!”
I was startled when that happened! That was new for me but in a positive way. I didn’t even know what to say back because of the positive shock I was having.
What I loved about Vienna was its streets full of music. I absolutely loved walking in the city centre and hearing violin, singing or another musical instrument on the street.
And of course, one of the biggest differences- Austrian Alpes. I had a great opportunity to go on a road trip in Austria and saw breathtaking nature and lovely cities around Austria. Hiking in the mountain was the highlight of my exchange semester.
What did you do to blend into the environment and get used with the new city faster?
I don’t think there is much you can do. It is basically the same if you go travelling, but just longer. You will definitely meet new people, walk around in the neighbourhood etc. These are the most basic things that make it already easier and trust me, you will figure out the rest. Just have an open mind and be in the moment to enjoy the journey!
What are your best experiences in Austria? Are there any activities you would recommend that everyone needs to experience while visiting Austria?
Oh yeah! As I already mentioned before, the highlight of my exchange semester was hiking in the mountains. It was amazing, but tough: soaked feet, red cheeks and shaking legs- YES. I was obviously not prepared for such hiking but WOW… it was an incredible experience! It was difficult for me emotionally and physically, but it was all worth it! So, I recommend to explore Vienna and also experiencing Austria's nature.
You are a part of the EBS Student Council's International Club. What are your most memorable moments related to this?
Yes, at the moment I’m a field manager of the International Club. It’s a great experience to lead a small team. My most memorable moments are mostly with incoming exchange students (Erasmus) because this is also one of my tasks to help Erasmus people to adjust here in Tallinn. They come to Tallinn with an open mind and with their friendliness. So many different people with so many different backgrounds.
One of the most memorable stories I had was with one Erasmus student. I organized many events for Erasmus students, it was tough sometimes because there were some unsuccessful events and my friend (Erasmus student) saw all this effort and work I had put there and he surprised me with a big flower bucket as thanks for helping and organizing the events for them. It was a very kind gesture, and it made me realize that all this effort and work in International Club has a great purpose.
What are the most fun events for Erasmus and International Students that they should definitely partake in while studying at EBS?
They are all very fun events and a great way to get along with the people from the same university. Every semester we have one traditional event that is usually the most popular event among Erasmus students and that is International Dinner. It is a great opportunity to introduce your culture and cuisine from your hometown. I’ve been to many International Dinners, and it is always a lot of fun!
Do you have any tricks or tips that outgoing students have to keep in mind before going on an exchange?
It is going to be tough sometimes but finding a way to deal with it can help. I have found my way- journaling and running. It can really help to clear your mind and just move on.
Go to the exchange semester with an open mind and adventurous mindset. Explore and experience as much as you can.
If you want to know more about my adventures in Austria or about something else, feel free to write to me. Sometimes it is great to learn from others and listen to their experiences.