Ukrainian Dariia Ruda about her life in Estonia: I have a solid plan in place for the future!

In the framework of the Integration Foundation’s cultural education programme introducing the Estonian cultural space, in cooperation with the Estonian National Museum, an educational programme was carried out this spring and summer, offering communication practice in Estonian, where the language was practised through the introduction of the Estonian cultural space. The programme consisted of five study trips to the Estonian National Museum, where the participants could learn the Estonian language and get to know the Estonian culture through the exhibitions of the museum and the discussions that followed.

The course concluded with the round table event ‘The Power to Speak’ at the Estonian National Museum on 22 June. Dariia Ruda, a young Ukrainian living in Valga, was also among the participants and she kindly agreed to share her impressions and experiences with us.

Please tell readers a few words about yourself.

I am from Ukraine and came to Estonia two years ago. I finished high school in Ukraine online and now, I am trying to get into the Pallas University of Applied Sciences. Besides that, I am trying to integrate into Estonian life, to get to know Estonia more, because unfortunately, I have not had the chance to do that so far.

How did you hear about this language learning programme?

I was just looking for different language learning and practice opportunities online. My aunt recommended me some courses. I called the Integration Foundation and asked for recommendations and found the course of the Estonian National Museum. I live in Valga and going to Tartu is not difficult, so the opportunity to visit the Estonian National Museum suited me well.

Today, you will attend the fifth and also the last event of this course. Looking back, what did you like and dislike about the course?

I really liked the course where they talked about the Urals and Estonia’s connection to this culture. The course was very interesting and interactive, among other things. In general, the Estonian National Museum has very exciting exhibitions and there are opportunities to learn and practise the language. The information is also in Ukrainian, which will undoubtedly make learning easier for me. I liked the study tours and the discussions that followed them.

What I did not like is not at all specific to this course. My general language skills are not very good yet and so I sometimes had difficulties in fully understanding everything. I could not participate as actively as I would have liked in the different discussions. In the end, however, it was all to my benefit and motivated me to learn more. So my overall impression of the whole course is very positive!

What have been the biggest challenges for you in adapting to the language environment here?

In terms of language, the challenge for me has not been so much the language itself, but the fact that, firstly, you hear a lot of Russian in Valga every day and, secondly, the people who come to communicate with you immediately start doing so in Russian. So the opportunities for me to practise my Estonian have been very difficult to come upon. In other words, the biggest challenge for me was to find people with whom I could actually practise the language on a daily basis and learn through it.

Unfortunately, I have not had many opportunities to visit other parts of Estonia. Apart from Tartu, I have been to Tallinn a few times with our small Ukrainian community in Valga, but not much more. It has certainly been my own fault. Undoubtedly, a larger circle of acquaintances would have meant more language practice. Hopefully that will change soon, especially if I manage to get into Pallas. My entrance exams are coming up soon and I am working hard, especially on the language.

Would you recommend this course to others?

Yes, definitely! We had language café events in Valga in April and May. I did some advertising there, encouraging others to participate in such programmes. However, most people in Valga have jobs and are unable to go on trips like that. I am the only person in this group who is not from Tartu. It is much easier for the ones living there.

What are your future plans?

As for my future, I know that I would definitely like to continue my studies, live in an Estonian-speaking environment, and find a job. I think I have a pretty good and solid plan in place for the future.

In cooperation with the Integration Foundation and the Estonian National Museum, the next language courses of the Estonian National Museum will take place in August in Tallinn and in September in Narva.

The project receives support within project no. 2021-2027.4.07.23-0006 ‘Activities supporting Estonian language learning and civic education’, sub-activity No. ‘Provision of various cultural and leisure activities to support Estonian language learning and practice’, financed by a grant of the European Social Fund+.