Beside Russia, there is a lovely, small Baltic country called Estonia with population of almost 1.3 million people - just a bit bigger than Dublin’s urban area.
I was born and bred in Estonia, but since August 2012 I have been living in Newbridge and working as an au pair.
In 2011 I finished my secondary school education in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.
After that I took a little break from studies and started working in different pubs and restaurants.
In March 2012, I moved to Denmark. I stayed with my sister and lived and worked there for six months.
When I finished, I wasn’t quite ready to go back to Estonia.
Instead I wanted to explore and travel some more.
My cousin, who works as an au pair in Limerick gave me a website – www.aupair-world.net. It is a great opportunity to meet families who need a child minder, or the other way around.
On the website I met families from all over the world. Eventually, I was deciding between moving to Germany or Ireland. Both families seemed great but I felt definitely more comfortable with Emer and Barry McGann from Newbridge. Communication was open-minded and stress free, and a few calls through Skype made me feel more secure. I made my decision and moved to Ireland.
I had a really warm welcome, although at first I didn’t know anybody else in my area beside the family. It was a totally new beginning.
Surprisingly, I found that a lot of girls were working as au pairs in County Kildare. Thanks to Emer, I found out that they have a group on Facebook.
I met loads of girls – Spanish, Scottish, Finnish, Italian and Canadian.
Almost every month, someone new arrived and joined the group. Everybody had their own story and background.
We all had something in common, being an au pair in Ireland, which gave us a lot to talk about and also a chance to discover Ireland together.
I started meeting them weekly in the pub, every Tuesday in Squires’s Bar, Kildare town.
The staff are brilliant and really sociable in Squires. Every Friday at 10.30pm there’s a savage trad band playing. They play some traditional Irish ballads, and sometimes also songs from charts. It’s usually pretty crowded and the atmosphere is deadly.
I was delighted to see and hear live music is almost everywhere in here. In Estonia, we too have many good musicians, but even so there are usually only special places and events where bands play.
Restaurants and shot bars are more popular in Estonia than pubs. The pub culture in general is really different over there.
In Tallinn it’s also possible to find some Irish pubs, although the atmosphere won’t be as lively as in Ireland if there are no local Irish people around.
Running is one of my passions. I was thrilled to hear about different marathons and running challenges in Ireland. In March I took part of the Runamuck Challenge. It took place in the farmland surrounding Clonkeeran House near Johnstownbridge. It was really mucky, cold and wet, but I would do it again anytime. I really enjoyed it, and it was such a great craic.
Here in Kildare, I’m surrounded by brilliant people and learning something new every day. At first I felt the urge to answer with big explanation to the question, “how are you?” I needed some time to get used to the fact that it’s just another way of saying “hello”. Also, the words “fine” and “great” are fading away from my vocabulary. Everything is “grand” instead.
Weather is another difference between here and Estonia. I love hearing the Irish expression “It’s Baltic out there”.
During the spring and summer, it could be actually a lot warmer in Estonia than it is here, and it is definitely drier. From really cold snowy winter back home, it could suddenly change to a warm summer.
The Irish writer George Bernard Shaw said: “Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.”
So here I am, living in Ireland and creating myself. I trusted my gut feeling and I couldn’t be happier with my choice.
I’m not sure about the future yet but I don’t rule out the possibility of staying in Ireland.
I have always been interested in news and stories stories, and here I found a way to develop my passion for journalism and writing.
I will be gladly minding three gorgeous children for another year, and after that I plan to start my studies and dive into the world of journalism.