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“ESN is for everybody!”

At the 28th of September I met up with Martin Chmelař. Martin is bright, chatty and open to talk about everything related to being abroad and international students. You could ask why, but he is the President of ESN TalTech IC.

Who are you?

I’m Martin Chmelař, I come from the Czech Republic and I’m currently the President of ESN TalTech IC. IC abbreviation stands for international club. ESN is Erasmus Student Network.

I’m also currently here as a degree student, I’m doing my masters degree in Cyber Security.

I have really appreciated my time here in Estonia, the weather sometimes here in the winter is pretty harsh. Besides that I’m really happy to live here.

Martin Chmelař – the President of ESN TalTech IC

So what is ESN? What does ESN do?

ESN is nonprofit organisation of 530 local sections in 41 countries all around the Europe. The main goal is to provide help for international students and to exchange culture of different countries so that students can get on in a different environment. We are also concentrating at self-development and all of that is under the principle of Students Helping Students.

Why did you choose Estonia?

I chose Estonia because of my studies in Cybersecurity and Estonia is well known for that.

Is TalTech and Estonia abroad student’s friendly?

Personally when I was applying here, it was so easy. The communication between university and myself was good and I got valuable information straight ahead. I also received a student ABC with helpful hints about transportation, study information ect. I also got my Buddy, but I only met him once or twice, because I started to hang out with the members of ESN right away.

How big is ESN?

ESN is nonprofit organisation of more than 500 local sections in 41 countries all around the Europe. So there’s around 15 000 volunteers. There are 5 ESN sections in Estonia – one is in Tartu and all others are in Tallinn. We do meet together with the other sections in Tallinn regularly and we are co-organising several events together. At the beginning of the semester we organised so called orientation week with several “ice-breaking” events.

Last week we also had our annual “Quidditch” game with other sections it Tallinn – precisely ESN Tallinn, ESN Tallinn University. We are also having common educational event and our board members are mutually sharing knowledge.

What is the biggest event in ESN TalTech IC?

Those “ice-breaking” are the biggest events because students want know about others, who are also international. We also organise “International dinner”, which takes place on 14th November in TalTech Student House. We expect hopefully 25 nations to prepare their national foods and we have hosts and program as well. Of course there is an after party.

We also have many international events like “Pirates of the Baltic Sea” which is a cruise trip from Helsinki to Stockholm and back. It’s mainly organised by ESN Finland but we are also contributing with our help. This is on 17th of November and 1500 pirates will be on board.

ESN is taking care about network itself. Therefore we are going to participate at Northern European Platform which is meeting of ESN sections from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Russia. Three of our broad members are going there also. This year it takes place in Finland, Vaasa.

” Lovely friends visit from @esnuniturku .. Hope you enjoying our city 🏙” – ESN TalTech IC Facebook

Cyprien, our communication manager was recently In Brussels where he attended “Social Inclusion Leaders meeting”. The main focus was on social inclusion and environmental sustainability and it’s best practices.

How can Estonians and Estonian students help ESN students?

Most of our members are in Estonia for maximum 2 years, so that’s a short period to properly understand Estonian culture. But we be trully happy to have more Estonians also in ESN to teach Estonian language (not so formally and a subject in school, more like Estonian for fun – it’s always useful to know pickup phrases in local language), traditions, way of living, lifestyle etc.

So what is buddy system? There are two kinds of buddies – volunteers and tutors. The difference is that tutors are taking a course called “Tutor program for foreign students” (https://www.ttu.ee/students/student-support-services/tutors-peer-support/become-a-buddy/) and they can get credits for helping us with our events and writing some essays about that. Buddies don’t have these duties, but they are supposed to help incoming students with settling down in Estonia.

I want to thank Martin and ESN TalTech for the lovely time. Keep up the good work!


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