Tips for your internship abroad in Estonia: you’ve come to the right place! Welcome to International Horizons, the international internship placement agency that will give you the right tips for your next internship in the Baltic States. Estonia is very well managed: I spent 10 days in Tallinn in 2011 – before being dropped at the airport by the way … – then, a road trip in the Baltic countries in winter the same year, and finally I went back in 2013 and 2019! Estonia, I love it.
Tip 1: Tidy up
A lot of a priori, in general, before leaving for the Baltic States. And yet, most of the clichés are false! Estonia is the EU country with THE BEST standard of living! Yes: high salary in relation to the cost of living, so a strong purchasing power! Our Estonian friends are far from being poor. It is also THE most technologically developed country in the European Union! A few examples? You can be an online e-citizen, Google has invested massively to create a mega campus in Tallinn, and they are also the ones who invented Skype! In short, Estonia is a country full of surprises, and the opposite of the clichés that we unwillingly convey in Western Europe.
Tip 2: Fly away without a plane
Yes, Estonia is the right place if you want to travel : by bus you can easily go to Riga (Latvia) or Vilnius (Lithuania) for 15€ round trip, and 4H of travel ; pretty cool. But that’s not all! By ferry it’s easy to get to Gdansk (Poland), Helsinki (Finland) or Stockholm (Sweden). It’s also cheap, for 50€ return with a bunk and an evening on the ferry to make you spend the night! Establishing your internship abroad in Estonia gives you the opportunity to visit 6 other countries, for not much!
Tip 3: Profit at low cost
Estonia is not only Tallinn. It is also Lahemaa and its vast national park, or Tartu, the country’s second largest city, which is also one of the largest student cities in the Balkans. You can also take a stroll around Pirita, to relax on the beach or visit its incredible monastery. Estonia offers a variety of activities: even though the standard of living is excellent, the minimum wage is still much lower than in France; you have a very high purchasing power there, and life will seem very sweet for your banker! (Kisses Vivian & Arthur if you read this blog!)
In terms of housing budgets, prices are fairly low for studio and T1 apartments. For a larger apartment in Tallinn, you should expect to pay at least €400. Many students opt for shared accommodation to cut costs and make the most of their mobility. As for food, prices are well below those in France, with a weekly basket for one person costing around €30. As for leisure activities, there are plenty available for less than 10 euros, whether for cultural activities, sports, etc. Don’t worry, Erasmus grants are adapted to the country’s cost of living. You can also choose to learn the language of the country: you’ll be able to find courses in various associations for a ridiculously low price. Knowing the basics of the Estonian language will initially help you to integrate, as many locals appreciate people who make the effort to speak the national language. What’s more, not everyone in a company speaks English well, so you’ll be able to make contact with them and exchange even basic language. An internship in Estonia won’t blow your savings, and you’ll still have a great experience!
Tip 4: Discover Estonia’s rich culture
There are two real cultural centers in Estonia: Tallinn and Tartu. It’s in the heart of these two cities that most events take place, and many concerts and musicals are staged in the capital Tallinn. The major musical event of the year is the Song Festival, with several thousand artists coming to perform and share their passion. The first edition of this festival dates back to the end of the 19th century and attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year. In Tartu, the best-known festival is the Early Music Festival, which was founded in 1996 and takes place every year. The festival features concerts, exhibitions, lectures and more. Estonian cuisine may not appeal to you at the moment, but Estonian cuisine is very diverse. Estonian cuisine is inspired by that of Germany and Russia. Specialties include
bread, bridge, beer and vodka. Wine and tropical fruits are rarer, and yes, weather conditions don’t allow these foods to be produced or preserved well. In the heart of Tallinn, you’ll find many fine restaurants of all kinds, from Russian and Italian specialities to French restaurants… Estonian culture is also on the natural side, with the Lahemaa National Park on Estonia’s northern coast. This park is impressive for its size and its grand manor houses. Estonia abounds in large parks where many people gather to stroll, chat or even enjoy an aperitif.
Tip 5: The best time to go
Estonia has a climate of cold winters, averaging between 0 and -5 degrees Celsius. Summers are fairly mild, averaging between 15 and 25 degrees. If I had to recommend a period for your trip abroad, I’d recommend between April and October, to get the most out of the country! However, if you’re a winter sports enthusiast, the winter period is ideal for snow sports! So don’t worry about temperatures: they’re more or less the same as in France. But be sure to bundle up, as the wind is cooler than in France.
Tip 6: Transport in Estonia
The possibilities for getting around Estonia are many and varied, but certain types of transport are preferable. First of all, let’s start with the train; this is not the most popular means of transport in Estonia, although it is useful except to connect Tallinn with Pärnu or Tartu. Buses are the easiest way to get around the country. It’s very easy to get to all the major cities. Buses are increasingly modern and fast, especially the Express line, renowned for its efficiency and fluidity. Ferries are also widely used in Estonia, particularly to reach the large islands to the west of the country. Ferries make it very easy to change countries, so you can discover as many countries as possible while you’re on the move. If you’re over 18 and have a driving license, you can also rent a car for a day or more. The roads around the cities are in decent condition, but if you venture into the Estonian countryside, you’ll soon find yourself on paths and tracks… And if you want to get around Tallinn, follow this link for public transport!
Tip 7: To avoid problems
Estonia has a fairly low crime rate, so crimes and assaults are rare. However, robberies do occur, particularly in the more touristy areas. So you can enjoy the nightlife without worrying too much about returning home, even late at night! However, you should avoid certain neighborhoods, preferring the main streets and boulevards for a quiet ride home. And don’t forget to take your European Health Insurance Card, so you can enjoy the same healthcare rights as in France! The easiest way to deal with minor problems is to book a video appointment with a French doctor, as I think you’ll have less trouble making yourself understood than in Estonian. However, the quality of the Estonian healthcare system is good, so you’ll be able to consult and be treated without fear, don’t worry. If you lose your identity papers, as in any other country, you can contact the embassy, which will be able to provide you with answers to your questions!
I hope this blog has inspired you to go and do an internship in Estonia? Personally, I loved this country, and what I remembered about Estonia is the relaxed way of life, the pleasant general atmosphere, the low cost of living… it’s really great, so if you need more advice before you leave, or if you’re still looking for a host company, don’t hesitate to contact us! Enjoy your internship in Estonia.
For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.