Study Abroad Blog by Pavel Vassiljev

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Where r u from?"

Just a small post about geography:
I know Estonia is small and is still often associated with the Soviet Union and stuff... But some of the associations and geographical assumptions we`ve got about where it is had just been amazing. However, people who watch Eurovision knew about Estonia, because we won the contest in 2001 (YES, I’m still proud)

Top 6 Reactions when I answer the question “Where are you from?”:
6. “Of course I know it, it is somewhere between Finland and Russia”
5. “You bloody Eastern Europeans come and take our jobs”
4. “I have no idea where it is, sorry...”
3.” Is it somewhere IN Russia?”
2. “It is NEXT to Slovakia, right?”
1.  “Estonia… Hmmm.. When I hear that word I think of a caveman from one of the American TV series

Also people should stop confusing Baltic capitals with each other. Lithuania – Vilnius; Latvia – Riga; Estonia – Tallinn. It is simple as that! :D

Once I had a long conversation about Russia’s international relations and their positions. In the middle of the conversation a friend of mine said: “Wait! Isn`t Russia in the EU? o.0”. – I mean WHY on Earth were you listening for 20 minutes about this !? But still the people in England are brilliant when it comes to covering their geographical illiteracy: “You know, mate, we are from an island, so we don’t really care about the rest”

I find it funny in a good way. The less people knew about my home country, the more we had to talk about J So it’s really positive.

Study Geography - it's GOOD for you!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hell continued...

Our first month in UK was full of surprises… Firstly, the boiler situation got worse… Well, it was the same for like two weeks because British Gas people were either early, late or never turned up… Which teaches us the first English rule.. If u expecting maintenance, postal deliveries or anything else = WAKE UP EARLY AND SIT BY YOUR DOOR. You will not believe until you experience it, but they knock on your door easier than a feather. OH GOD, how many times we missed our deliveries only because we didn’t hear them knock…

A couple of weeks later we got the boiler fixed and got ourselves comfortable with the house. So it was time to open bank accounts, get internet and find jobs… That is when we stumbled into UK’s first paradox: “If you want to get a job – you should get a bank account first”….”if you want to get a bank account – you need a job acceptance”..(Thank you HSBC) This totally screwed our minds. If we are not getting lucky with jobs and banks, at least we can easily get broadband to our house. HELL NO! It takes another week to set it up and an 80GBP deposit (THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE RETURNED IN DECEMBER). After settling everything down with VirginMedia and buying a router, paying the deposit, month’s fee and connection (40GBP) we were staying alert not to miss the Virgin Media Guy. And when he came (EARLIER) to connect it was a WOW :O situation… He just connected the modem to a broadband socket… 40GBP eh!? My Grandma could easily do it! So every other time we moved in to a new house and connected to VirginMedia we just ordered delivery with no connection, at least saved us money.

Deposit situation: We paid the deposit in September, that was promised to be returned in December, of course I never got it in December, after calling them and speaking for 40min (at least it was at my work). They promised me to return it next week… Well, the same situation happened 3-4 times and in APRIL i`ve finally got the deposit back. What a special company Virgin Media UK is.. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Arrival to UK

On 30th of August 2007 we had around 30 people coming to wish us good luck. There were some tears and slight thoughts of regret but far more laughs and smiles. A cousin of mine brought us a bag full of instant noodles saying: “Here is yours first month’s supply!” (THANK GOD SHE DID IT). We struggled a lot while sticking them into our luggage though. I received a RAT from friends who said: “Rats can survive anything and anywhere so this one will help you!” This rat is helping me out in Sweden now! After saying our farewells we rushed to the security control and WHOOPS what a surprise two of the guys were being frisked. One of them had pink fluffy handcuffs that OBVIOUSLY were not allowed to be taken in the departures. That frisk made us almost late for the flight.

When we arrived to Luton (around 8PM) with all our luggage and a rat sticking out of a shiny golden bag it was a pretty ridiculous picture. And OF COURSE we got lost. After wondering for an hour around blocks of attached English houses we ACCIDENTALY found our street.

When entering the house we met a guy that said to be the “Landlords Friend”. He said that the landlord was at a wedding in Italy and will be coming in a couple of days. Being a son of a lawyer I got really suspicious and checked all of his ID`s and wrote the details down. Also negotiated a deal that we will only pay a one month rent and give the deposit only to the landlord. The “Landlords Friend” gave his number saying: “Matey, If you have any problems - call me! I want you guys to know that you have your first friend in England!” And left with a smile. After taking showers and cooking dinner from the stuff we had brought (AND IT WAS A LOT) we craved for a good comfy night sleep. However bedding was not found so we had to cover ourselves with coats and use towels instead of pillows.

Next morning brought several surprises… Firstly, I felt like waking up in a freezer, the heating was not working. Warming up in the shower was a bad idea as well, the water was ice-cold. When checking the boiler we found out that it broke down. I called up the “Landlords Friend” that was so nice with us last evening, he gave a couple of instructions like: “Press this and that”. Of course it didn’t help so I called him up again and got a taste of British hospitality: “Well it ain’t me problem, innit? Just boil yourself a kettle and stop bothering me, I ain’t your landlord!”… That day started like HELL ABROAD for 4 Estonian teenagers.

Noontime we went to discover the town and do some serious home shopping. After completing the shopping list we returned home and had a small housewarming celebration with good old English beers and ciders…

P.S. The next several days we lived without heating and used to boil kettles to take a shower! It sounds funny now but at that point in time we felt miserable. In addition we did not know whether the landlord even existed J

Monday, March 7, 2011

The idea of the blog

Good whatever time of the day is in your country!

This will be my first blog. The idea is to give some useful tips and share fun stories of my education experience abroad. I will be more than happy to answer any questions and share information about applying to universities and that kind of stuff. 

A quick overview of me being abroad: When I was 19 and graduated high school in Tallinn, Estonia I moved to UK. Me and two of my classmates got accepted to study in the University of Bedfordshire in a town called Luton, which is around 30 Min train ride from Central London. After finishing two years there I switched universities and moved to Portsmouth (Hampshire) where I finished Ba Marketing course. After that I got lucky enough to be accepted to do a MSc International Marketing & Brand Management course in Lund, Sweden where I currently am living. 

Basically, this blog is supposed to be packed with stories, tips and travel pictures to inspire people to take advantage of the opportunities. 

Stay connected!