We are all the face of Estonia: Francois is enchanted by Estonia's nature and people


Why should a young Canadian guy come to Estonia? But why shouldn't he, when there's wonderful nature and special people on offer here? These two reasons were decisive for Francois. He had heard that Estonia had unspoilt nature, came to see for himself, and stayed. He feels quite at home here now and plans to build a life here too.

Francois has worked for the engineering company Betson for two years, and makes music in his spare time.

"Actually, I'm an engineer during workdays, but in the evenings and on the weekends I'm a musician," says Francois. "When I'm an engineer, my creative side can rest a little, but when I'm a musician, the engineering world can rest. I've created that kind of balance for myself." Francois expresses himself by making reggae and soul music, but he also likes to go to classical musical concerts, of which there are many in Estonia, and those are of very high quality. "I recently was at a concert at Kadriorg Palace where two sisters played. I don't recall their names, but I enjoyed every second," he says enthusiastically.

For Francois, Estonia is a place where everything is close and that means nature, first and foremost. Nature is everywhere in Tallinn, where he lives -- in Kadriorg, Viimsi, and Pirita. From the window of his home, he has even seen the northern lights. Just the opportunity to go skiing in Tallinn's Kadriorg Park is a real luxury, he says.

Here, he has learned to distinguish between edible and inedible mushrooms in the forest, like Estonians, and loves to make delicious dishes from them. He also enjoys the different kinds of potato dishes, he says.

Francois admits that the Estonian language is difficult though: "I've got some of the words down, but I need to be more disciplined, because knowledge of the language is important."

"The people are special here, they love to have some space around them and they also give the other person the same space, which allows them to feel good about themselves, it's like respecting the other person," Francois says of the Estonians. "Estonians always and everywhere give a person time to get adjusted, this is also an expression of respect for the other person."

And while Estonia is very similar to Canada, according to Francois, there is also something different here. "At first, I was taken aback by the Estonians' love of silence. For example, when we eat here, it's not customary to tell stories and to talk. In Canada, we talk a lot and all the time during lunch or dinner, here it's all done in silence."

He has now learned from the Estonians how to be precise in his expressions, how to use just the right words when communicating. "I've adopted this way of communicating. A few words, but very precise, to be a better listener rather than a speaker."

One thing that immediately stood out to him is the pet-friendliness of offices. He doesn't have any pets of his own, but to him the opportunity to bring your pets to work seemed quite different. The Estonian sauna culture also stands out. "Every Friday, people here happily go to the sauna together, and there are even saunas in the offices," he says, adding that this is another custom he has already picked up from the Estonians.

However, in two years, he has not gotten used to the fact that the nights here are extremely long in winter and extremely short in summer. "In Montreal, where I come from, you don't find that, it takes some getting used to."

"I would like to communicate with Estonians through my music," Francois acknowledges, adding that he doesn't think about achieving reggae or soul stardom, but about how his self-expression could bring joy to others. His first album is already finished, he notes.


Author: Diana Lorents/HAVAS
Photo: Virgo Haan/HAVAS


We are all the face of Estonia