Talking to Expats: Michelle Bell

more than a year ago
Over the last few years, Tallinn has increasingly become a destination for foreigners from all over the globe to lay down new roots. In our new series, we ask expats a few questions including their reasons for coming here and why they decided to stay. Each of them has a unique story to tell and we trust that whether you are merely visiting, or planning on making your stay in Estonia a longer one – you’ll find out something new or interesting about this increasingly multi-cultural Nordic State.

American globetrotter and blogger Michelle Bell is a ‘mother’ of two dogs, a fairly recent arrival to Estonia and has likely appeared in numerous tourist photo albums while walking her dogs in Kadriorg Park.

What originally brought you to Estonia, where are you from and how long have you lived here?
I moved to Tallinn in April from Charlotte, NC for my husband’s new job. My dad was in the army and I’ve lived several places in the US and in Germany, so I’m not from one specific place.

What were the reasons that made you want to relocate to Estonia?
Several years ago my husband and I discussed moving to Europe and we were presented with the opportunity with his new position. We specifically wanted a new experience, a different quality of life, and the ability to travel more freely. It can be somewhat difficult for US citizens to obtain visa sponsorship in another country but that wasn’t the case for Estonia.

How much of a culture shock was it for you to move here?
I’ve moved every four to six years, so relocating here wasn’t unorthodox for me. I’m sometimes taken aback when I forgot that I’m not in an English speaking country and hear Estonian.

What are some of your favourite spots in Tallinn?
I love Kadriorg Park and take our two dogs on a walk there everyday. Though the number of tourist photos with me picking up dog poop in the background is increasing. I also frequent Whisper Sister. The bar staff are welcoming and the cocktails are inventive.

How would you describe Estonia as a country, and Estonians?
Estonians are very resilient people. It seems as though Estonia has made a conscious effort to reinvent itself after Soviet occupation and has been successful in that. Most 20- and 30-somethings that I’ve met are very friendly and outgoing. I haven’t explored most of Estonia yet but from what I’ve seen, it is quite small and flat.

How is it to live here and does it feel like home now?
Living without AC has been adjustment but I remind myself that I am helping the environment. We were fortunate to find a spacious three room apartment in Kadriorg and feel settled. I’ve developed many friendships, with both Estonians and other expats, and the sense of community has made Estonia feel like home. This is something that I want to explore more in my blog Michelle En route. I plan to share my experiences of living in Estonia as an expat.

What is your favourite Estonian word or words and why?
‘Terviseks’ is my favorite Estonian word. Sharing a drink is a ritual that unites most people regardless of language, culture, age, etc.


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