HomeHigher EducationStudy AbroadBraving the Baltics  - Off-Campus Study

Braving the Baltics  – Off-Campus Study


Everyone told me when I decided to study abroad that it would be amazing — I would develop new skills, learn more about myself, and cultivate a more global perspective. Now facing the end of my semester, I can confidently say that all those things came to fruition, though not in the way I anticipated.

Three weeks ago, I had a chance to employ one of the new skills I gained: sleeping on a bus. Apparently, the trick for me involved travel excitement, a gaggle of friends, and the third overnight bus in six days. Since then, I have not struggled at all with sleeping on any form of transportation — whether it be the bus back from the grocery store or my legs as I sleepwalked with friends back to campus after an evening at a staff member’s house.

Needless to say, I arrived in Tallinn, Estonia after a surprising night of wonderful sleep, ready to see the sights. 

Tallinn 

Mother Nature had a surprise to welcome me to the capital of the northernmost Baltic state: a beautiful snow day. As I explored Tallinn’s old town, the streets became laden with a fresh blanket of snow, revealing its beauty and making up for the fact that the marvelous outlook. I hiked half an hour to see revealed nothing but a swirling white canvas occasionally punctuated by the blue-green spires of ancient church buildings.

As a city half destroyed by World War II, Tallinn’s architecture speaks of the blending of two worlds — one very ancient and one very modern — with a vibrant spirit of resilience and resistance still prominent in the streets and local population. I ended my journey in Tallinn by indulging in a medieval feast that alighted all of my senses and gave me a taste of the origins of traditions that Estonians still hold dear today.

Riga 

As the largest Baltic capital, Riga, Latvia, is a bustling metropolis with an old town that expands into sprawling modernity. It was there that I truly comprehended how recently these young democratic countries won their independence.

I learned about movements such as the Baltic Way where citizens from across Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia joined hands to form an unbroken human chain of 600 kilometers from Vilnius to Tallinn in a peaceful protest against Soviet occupation. I also discovered the central market, a place where local vendors peddle traditional Latvian food and merchandise.

Investigation of famous sites as well as pointless meandering brought the joy of finding the smallest street sign in Riga, chocolate that claimed to be magic, and a black cat that serves as a reminder of the importance of trade and guilds in Riga.

My trip ended with a powerful stop at the Hill of Crosses where I took in almost half a century of remembrance, respect, and honor for those who have gone before.

And that’s a wrap! With my journey abroad coming to an end, I can look back and see the numerous ways that I have grown and learned from those around me and the cultures I have had the privilege to experience.

I look forward to enjoying every moment of my final few days in Lithuania and am starting to anticipate my bittersweet return back home.

Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.
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