Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. These three countries in north-eastern Europe have a unique historical and cultural heritage that comes from both East and West. If you love history and nature, the Baltic States are a first choice destination for your work placement in Europe. The Baltic States, a cultural bridge between East and West.

Between wild nature and architectural diversity, the Baltic States will take you on a journey to the heart of a culture that blends East and West.

The cultural differences between these three countries
  1. History and cultural influences :
    • Estonia has been strongly influenced by Scandinavian and Germanic history, due to its geographical position and colonial past. It was also under Soviet rule for several decades, which left a significant cultural imprint.
    • Latvia has been influenced by Germanic and Slavic culture, as well as by the presence of neighbouring Russia. It was also under Soviet rule, as was Estonia.
    • Lithuania, on the other hand, has a strong cultural identity based on its grand-ducal past and historical heritage. It was the last Baltic country to adopt Christianity and was influenced by the order of the Teutonic Knights.
  2. Language :
    • Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian are the official languages of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania respectively. Estonian and Finnish are closely related, while Latvian and Lithuanian are part of the Baltic language family and share similarities.
  3. Mentality and attitude :
    • Estonians are generally renowned for their pragmatic and reserved approach. They attach great importance to efficiency, organisation and technology.
    • Latvians are often described as warm and hospitable. They are proud of their cultural identity and folklore, and place great value on family and community.
    • Lithuanians are known for their hospitality and friendliness. They are proud of their cultural heritage, particularly their folk music, crafts and cuisine.
  4. Kitchen :
    • Each country has its own traditional cuisine. In Estonia, you’ll find dishes such as sturgeon stew, black bread and smoked eel. In Latvia, you can enjoy dishes such as pickled herring, liver pâté and potato pancakes. In Lithuania, traditional dishes such as cepelinai (stuffed potato dumplings), kugelis (potato gratin) and šaltibarščiai (cold beetroot soup) are popular.
  5. Celebrations and festivals :
    • Every country has its own festivals and cultural events. In Estonia, the Song Festival is a major event, where thousands of singers gather to perform traditional songs. In Latvia, the Song and Dance Festival is also a major celebration of Latvian culture. In Lithuania, St John’s Day (Joninės) is a traditional festival marked by bonfires and festivities.

It is important to note that these cultural differences are general and that there may be variations within each country depending on the region and the individual.

Estonia, an elegant contrast between modernity and history

Estonia, a small country nestling in the Baltic States, offers an elegant contrast between modernity and history. It is a destination that astonishes and fascinates with its ability to harmoniously combine influences from the past with technological advances and contemporary innovation. Tallinn, the Estonian capital, is a medieval jewel that takes visitors on a journey through time. The cobbled streets of the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are brimming with charm and history. The perfectly preserved medieval ramparts offer uninterrupted views of the red-tiled roofs and Gothic churches. Strolling through these narrow streets, past colourful gabled houses and hidden courtyards, is like getting lost in a fairytale.

But there’s more to Estonia than its glorious past. It is also one of the most connected and technologically advanced countries in Europe. Tallinn is the cradle of e-government technology, offering innovative digital services such as e-residency, which allows anyone in the world to set up an Estonian online business. The spirit of innovation is palpable around every corner, with start-ups and coworking spaces flourishing. Estonia is a hub of technology and creativity, where entrepreneurship is encouraged and supported.

The contrast between modernity and history is also reflected in Estonia’s natural environment. Vast forests, sparkling lakes and the picturesque Baltic coastline provide an idyllic backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts. Estonia has many unspoilt national parks, offering well-maintained hiking trails and the chance to discover unique flora and fauna. Explore the Soomaa Marshes, where you can wander along wooden paths through mysterious marshy landscapes. Or head to the island of Saaremaa, with its tranquil beaches, medieval fortresses and peaceful atmosphere. Estonia is a paradise for nature lovers, where you can recharge your batteries and reconnect with the beauty of the world around you.

But what really makes Estonia special are the Estonians themselves. Their pride in their country, their open-mindedness and their hospitality are palpable. Meeting Estonians will give you a deeper understanding of their unique culture and resilient spirit. Whether it’s savouring traditional Estonian dishes in a local restaurant or taking part in a traditional village fete, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and made to feel instantly at home.

Lithuania, a cultural and historical crossroads

Situated at the crossroads of Eastern and Northern Europe, Lithuania is a country with a rich cultural heritage and fascinating history. With its picturesque landscapes, historic cities and vibrant culture, Lithuania is a destination that offers a true crossroads of different influences.

Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, is a city with many facets. Its historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a veritable architectural treasure trove. The cobbled streets wind between magnificently preserved Baroque and Gothic buildings. Vilnius Cathedral, the Gediminas Tower and St Anne’s Church are all emblematic sites that bear witness to the city’s rich past. But Vilnius is much more than just a historical showcase. It is also a hotbed of creativity and contemporary artistic expression. The streets are alive with art galleries, trendy cafés and a vibrant cultural scene.

Lithuania is also renowned for its remarkable natural heritage. The Curonian Spit National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a narrow strip of land stretching along the coast of the Baltic Sea. Golden sand dunes, lush forests and pristine beaches make it an ideal destination for nature lovers. Explore the hiking trails, watch the migratory birds and enjoy the tranquillity of this unspoilt landscape. Lithuania also offers numerous lakes, rivers and national parks that invite adventure and relaxation in the great outdoors.

Lithuania is a true cultural crossroads, marked by diverse influences. Its turbulent history has left visible traces in its cultural heritage. The influence of the Order of the Teutonic Knights, Slavic heritage and Soviet domination all combine to create a unique identity. The Lithuanian language, one of the oldest Indo-European languages still spoken today, bears witness to this cultural richness.

Lithuanian gastronomy is another facet of this cultural fusion. Traditional dishes such as cepelinai (stuffed potato dumplings), kugelis (potato gratin) and šaltibarščiai (cold beetroot soup) reflect the influence of neighbouring countries while having their own distinctive flavour. The colourful food markets are a great place to discover and sample Lithuania’s culinary delights.

But what really makes Lithuania special are its warm and welcoming people. Lithuanians are proud of their cultural heritage and are open to visitors. They are known for their hospitality and their willingness to share their history and culture with others. Enjoy!

Latvia, a medieval country

Latvia, an enchanting Baltic country, is a veritable medieval treasure trove. With its rich history and exceptional cultural heritage, Latvia invites visitors to step back in time and discover its fascinating past.

Riga, the Latvian capital, is a veritable medieval jewel. Its historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the largest and best preserved in Europe. The winding cobbled streets guide you past majestic medieval buildings, imposing Gothic churches and picturesque squares. Riga Cathedral and the Powder Tower are impressive examples of medieval architecture. The lively alleyways are lined with traditional craft shops, cafés and restaurants where you can sample authentic Latvian dishes.

But Latvia’s medieval charm is not limited to its capital. The country is packed with castles and fortresses that bear witness to its tumultuous past. Cesis Castle, for example, is an impressive medieval castle offering panoramic views over the city and its surroundings. Turaida Castle, with its imposing towers and picturesque gardens, is another must-see, transporting visitors back to the days of knights and princesses.

Outside the cities, Latvia offers an exceptionally beautiful natural landscape that also evokes a medieval atmosphere. Vast forests, sparkling lakes and unspoilt Baltic coastlines create an idyllic backdrop for adventurers in search of nature and escape. The Gauja and Kemeri national parks offer picturesque hiking trails through wooded landscapes, rocky cliffs and winding rivers. The Latgale lakes region is a paradise for water sports and nature lovers, with its many peaceful lakes surrounded by lush green forests.

Latvia is also renowned for its festivals and events celebrating its medieval heritage. The Sigulda Medieval Festival transports visitors into the atmosphere of medieval times with knight shows, tournaments and craft markets. The Summer Solstice Festival, called Jāņi, is a traditional Latvian celebration where people come together to celebrate the summer solstice with ancient dances, songs and rituals.

A varied and unspoilt natural environment

The Baltic countries offer a fascinating and welcoming natural environment. Estonia and its mysterious forest will accompany you on your long hikes. During your work placement in Latvia, you can sail on one of its 3,000 lakes. Lithuania, meanwhile, offers long escapades along the Baltic beaches.

Come and do your work placement in Estonia, Lithuania or Latvia and discover a unique culture shared between East and West. Don’t hesitate, contact us and we’ll be happy to help you find your ideal work placement!

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