In this interview, Kakhi Sanikidze, a.k.a. Kevin, talks about what Georgian people are like, how Georgian students who study at UT stay close and care for each other, and how Georgians and Estonians are different.
To really see what Kakhi is saying, watch his video on how he and his ten Georgian friends, Mariam Misabishvili, Mariam Chubabria, Lexo Chanadiri, Tamo Geliashvili, Natia Sharikadze, Eto Gobronidze, Nino Kvirkvelia, Tamta Kupatadze, Nino Kuloshvili, and Shota Kakabadze, celebrated the New Year at the Raatuse dorm:
Inga: During the last minute of 2011, your friends were busy burning pieces of paper with their wishes written on them and drinking champagne with the ashes. There seemed to be some panic – was everyone on time, or will some wishes remain unfulfilled now?
Kakhi: Yes, we have this little tradition – I don’t know where it comes from. Still, it’s popular and fun. We all hope we did it on time but some of us couldn’t burn the paper properly, and some seemed to be late. I think it’s more about whether you believe in your wish – we believe they will come true so we’ll see.
You and your Georgian friends seem to hold together closely in Tartu. How would you describe your Georgian community here?
That’s true. Even though most of us didn’t know each other before coming here we became friends in the very first days and kept each other close for the whole semester. We studied together, hung out together, the girls used to cook together, and we guys always loved to visit them when it was dinner time
It’s not that we are not friends with others, I personally found many good international friends but I would just say that I think that the Georgians held together closer than the others.
Judging by this video, Georgians seem to be very emotional and warm people (especially compared to Estonians). Do you feel that you are very different from the surrounding culture?
I think we are emotional, yes. We describe ourselves as warm and hospitable people. It needs to be said that because of our emotions and expressions we sometimes tend to be noisy as well The difference between Georgians and Estonians is noticeable. Personally, for me it was not difficult to live here for all of these months, but in the beginning it took me some time to get the idea as to what kind of people Estonians were. My first impressions were that they didn’t like me or they weren’t interested in me. Now it’s all clear and much easier. Estonians are not forward and easy-going but once you show initiative and make friends with someone they tend to be more attentive, friendly and curious in a positive way.
You celebrated the New Year in Raatuse dorm, which was probably quite empty of students that night. Your family and friends were calling you from Georgia. It must have also been sad to stay far away from home on New Year’s eve?
We celebrated Christmas (25 December) and it was quite empty. Only Orthodox or non-christian people were staying in the dorm. We all had a dinner together but it was not so much fun, but for the New Year most of the students were already back so it was a big food festival and night out. I think for almost all of the Georgians it was the first New Year far from our families. Yes, we missed our families but it wasn’t that sad overall, it was just more unusual. Half of us are heading back to Georgia in a month so we try not to be so homesick.
This video is indeed very touching, open and sincere. Thank you for sharing your great spirit with all viewers. We will be waiting for the second part now!
Thanks for the nice words about the video. I hope these answers are interesting. I will do the second part of the video as soon as I find some time.
By the way, there is one Georgian restaurant left in Tartu – do you recommend it?
Yes, there is a Georgian restaurant in Tartu named Tbilisi (which is the city in which I was born and grew up). I do recommend going there to get an idea of how Georgian music sounds, what the dances look like and how the food tastes. But for real impressions and a real taste of Georgian food those interested need to visit us in Georgia.