Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The old and the new, country version

It's interesting to be here in Spain, to see just how similar and how different the two countries are. How a legacy of history can have both its positives and its negatives. There's something that fascinates me about it, the idea of roots, heritage. I don't think Estonia really has it, not in the way it exists here. Mind you, of course Estonia has a history and all that goes with it, and maybe I'm just less aware of it because I've grown up knowing it, living in it... But there have been so many changes over the last century, and the focus now is on the progress, on the new. We want to get ahead, to change things, to do well. I think here, the focus is more on the past, there is more of the old to hold on to, so they do.

Like for example in the university, you really have to take notes in lectures because it's not all there in PowerPoint presentations. Or even if there are such things, you have to buy a printed version of them on paper. You can't just go get it all through the Internet like in Tartu. In general all the notifications go up on the walls in paper form, some stuff on the university's website maybe (but not the stuff that matters generally). It's modern here, and I think the faculty itself is relatively new, but even so... one girl I spoke with said that things work here the way they did in her university maybe 50 years ago. While I wouldn't quite go so far when comparing it with the Estonian system, I would say there's something older, more traditional about it here.

They say this region is quite traditional within Spain as well. All the shops are closed on Sundays, and you have to search for the all-in-one-place type of food stores that are all you see in Estonia. Here it's meat shops and fruit shops and bakeries and canned food shops etc etc etc all separately. (Though the "normal" variety of stores does exist when you know where to look for it. :-))

I suppose I don't really know the country well enough yet to be truly able to compare. But I do feel there are both similarities and differences. And these make me both very happy to be here to experience this kind of a place and appreciate more the way some things are in Estonia.

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