A warning: The first part of this will be rather boring everyday probably. My apologies.
July 1, 2009
Today we visited the European Commission and met one of the ambassadors of Estonia, Toivo Klaar (at least I think he was an ambassador). Anyway, it seemed to me that he mostly talked about how the European Union works and what part Estonia plays in the decision making processes. I have to admit, I was pretty bored at first and a bit sleepy but it turned out to be quite interesting. What really struck me was how similar the EU and the US actually are. It’s an interesting thing that Europe has put together; somewhat like the federal government of the US but each state has much more autonomy. Of course, they’re running into some problems putting all of these nations together into a cohesive and cooperative club. It seems to me that the EU and the US could learn a lot from each other in terms of organizational methods and policies. With fresh ideas from the EU, and lots of experience in the US, I would think that we should both be able to improve how things are run. For example, students who are citizens of an EU county can go to school in any other EU country without paying additional fees. This makes sense to me. Why shouldn’t US students be able to go to school out of state without paying out-of-state tuition? I think it’s really interesting to see something like the EU growing and adapting as they figure things out.
We also had a lecture about the integration of Estonia into the EU (they became a member in 2004 I believe). After they regained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, they wanted to drastically distance themselves from the USSR and become a liberal democracy. They actually liberalized and privatized themselves so much, that they had to tone it down a little in order to join the EU. It seems to me like Estonia fits in very nicely with the rest of the EU and it’s amazing to see how much like Western Europe it really is. To think that less than 20 years ago they were under soviet rule, and now they have one of the fastest growing economies and a technologically advanced government system.
Then we visited the Museum of Occupation, which turned out to be SUPER boring after about 10 minutes.
Well, enough of the lecture stuff. Here’s what happened to me today besides that. Basically, I went to bed at 6:30pm last night because I was soooo exhausted after skipping a whole night’s sleep. This resulted in me waking up at 3:30am, wide awake. So I was pretty bored until 8:30am when we had to begin our day. Other than the lectures, I went shopping and bought a super cute leather jacket. Yay!! I think that’s about it. On a side note, I am NOT yet impressed with Estonian cuisine. They have odd combinations of things in their dishes. I am loving the strong coffee though. Reminds me of the expresso in France (and no I did not misspell that, le français uses an x).