Ezinne Favour Ogwuegbu is a 2020 cum laude graduate of the master’s programme in International Relations and Regional Studies at the University of Tartu.
On a hot summer day, I met Favour in front of the university’s main building, and we headed to the university cafe nearby. It was lunchtime, and they only served lunch, which we were not interested in. However, we were allowed to stay and enjoy coffee on the house, which I did. I turned down the music in the room – we were there alone – and we started our conversation.
Conversation is something that Favour always goes for to understand other people and cultures. “If you think we are different, have a dialogue with us first. You would be surprised at what you would learn about other people if you just took the time to have a conversation with them, even for five minutes. Have conversations first; do not assume,” Favour encourages.
She sometimes misses conversations. After classes, everybody just vanishes. Students are busy with their lives, kids, and jobs. “And when you do meet your classmates, it occasionally feels like you are in another academic conference,” Favour smiles.
She considers Estonians to be very reserved. However, whenever she encountered problems, people went out of their way to help. In contrast to Estonians, Nigerians are very warm and expressive. Favour admits that her usual “larger than life” personality has become more reserved after coming to Estonia.
Here, she does experience the occasional stares, but it seems as though they have decreased now. In a popular blog post, entitled “Discrimination in Estonia: Are Estonians racist?” Favour acknowledged that “If you are looking for a place where you are not considered different or won’t get stared at from time to time, that place is back home in your country.” She knows that some people are indeed racist and encourages her fellows “not to let one negative experience ruin the urge to go out and do some good, to be understood.”Continue reading