I find myself struggling to find the words to write tonight. Today has been a day of transitions, from one time zone to another, from one culture to another, from one city to another, and from sightseer to educator. Transitions take attention and time.

Sleeping schedules and routines disrupted, Todd and I  found ourselves at computer terminals in the Institute at 3 AM. Laying back down at 5 AM, we drifted back to sleep to awaken at 9 AM with a few hours to walk through the walled city of Old Tallinn.

What was light snow the night before now had become heavier. Residents and shop owners armed with snow shovels and rake implements set out to do battle with the drifts, all the while chatting with their neighbors

We slid around parts of the walled city, sightseeing in ankle deep snow. The plows were out piling up snow into large mounds. It seems that the city plows the snow but doesn’t sand very much, so many of the walkways were slick. I saw several Tallinn walkers slip and fall on the ice, doing so with a sense of resignation and grace. They picked themselves up and carried on.

People were everywhere. Families with children were out playing in the drifts left by the snow plows. Smaller children were towed in sled trailers. People were milling around town square, bundled up, playing in the snow and purchasing from vendors. Some of the vendors were dressed in Medieval garb, so it had a slight feel of Renaissance Faire.

People we passed looked similar to our culture in Minnesota, except that heads and bodies were much better protected than in Minnesota. There were a lot of fur lined hats and hoods, coats and boots. As we passed people on the street, eye contact was kept to a minimum. If we were assessed to be English speaking, some would venture phrases like, “Hello, lovely weather” and then keep walking. People here speak Estonian, a soft nordic sounding language, and fortunately for us, many of them speak a bit of English.

Seeking information or looking at price tags indicated that we weren’t in Minnesota any more. While much is familiar, much is foreign as well. Trying to find a mail box to mail a postcard was as challenging as trying to figure out how to insert the postcard into the post box.

We met Siimon, Todd’s contact, at the bus station. He was an energetic man in a long wool coat and a fleece lined hat. Todd and he are friends so it was a warm welcome with hugs. We boarded the bus headed for Tartu. Siimon tutored us in some of the features of the bus, including moving seats and WiFi. Having not had WiFi the last day, it was a luxury to catch up on emails and update Facebook. I tried uploading pictures, but the WiFi feature had its limits. It was nice to spend a few hours with Siimon and get to know him a little bit more.

Arriving at Tartu, there was an orienting process as well for this city. Different restaurants, different street names and different directions to travel. The hotel we are staying at, in Tartu, is very nice and the layout feels familiar. Now preparation is being made to meet the students’ need for knowledge. Tomorrow the teaching starts. I pray that it will be a good time of teaching and learning from students as well.