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Stories from Azerbaijan, Mexico, France etc.

#33 Aili Vahtla from USA to Estonia: growing up as Estonian American

#33 Aili Vahtla from USA to Estonia: growing up as Estonian American


Hop on board, because it’s time to make a trip again! This time to… Estonia? 😎 Aili Vahtla grew up in the United States as an Estonian American. So she always knew what Estonia is and what are its people like - or did she?

She’s sharing her fascinating story, how she spent her weekends as a patriotic Estonian, and her every day as an American. Listen from herself how it all played out!
her story, growing up as Estonian American
comparing living in Narva, Tartu, and also in a farmhouse.
overview of sorority and fraternity system similarities and differences
things she appreciates in Estonia
her tips for learning the language

This episode is part of the special Estonian-languaged episode series with foreign guests, who also speak fluent Estonian. So get inspired and listen to the previous episode #32, where we chat with Aili in Estonian, and he shares more of her story, experiences, and thoughts over there!

If you know anyone else, who could be great for this special series, write to: podcast@foundinestonia.ee and let us know!

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*EST* #32 Aili Vahtla: väliseestlasena Ameerikast Eestisse: Siin sa ei pea pingutama, et eestlane olla.

*EST* #32 Aili Vahtla: väliseestlasena Ameerikast Eestisse: Siin sa ei pea pingutama, et eestlane olla.


Found in Estonia taskuhäälingu eestikeelne erisaade number #32 Aili Vahtlaga, kes kasvas üles väliseestlasena Ameerika Ühendriikides. Ja on nüüdseks juba peaaegu 10 aastat elanud Eestis.
Selles osas suhtleme eesti keeles, järgmises ka inglise keeles. Aili elas justkui topelt elu - nädalavahetuseti ta reisis ta erinevate osariikide vahel, et tegeleda kõigega, mis on Eestile iseloomulik ja nädala sees nautis hoopis kohaliku ameeriklase elu!
Rääkisime tema taustast!
Miks ta tahtis hoopis Kanadasse kolida?
Kuidas ta Eestisse ära armus?
Millised on Eesti eelised, millest ameeriklased ainult unistavad?
ja palju palju muud!
See saade on erisaade eesti keelsete külalistega sarjast Found in Estonia inglise keelses taskuhäälingus. Tavapäraselt on igas saates külas mõni välismaalane, kellega jutustame inglise keeles - kuula ka neid! Kui sa tead veel kedagi, kes sobiks selle saatesarja külaliseks, anna märku, kirjutades email aadressile: podcast@foundinestonia.ee!

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#28 Tiina - what's up with Found in Estonia podcast?

#28 Tiina - what's up with Found in Estonia podcast?

Special day = special episode!
*Where did Kaisa disappear?
*What kind of episodes are coming up?
*Any collaborations in the air?
*Anything else happening with Found in Estonia podcast?
*Any get-togethers?

Good that you asked, 'cause Tiina is answering it all in the special solo episode 😎
Listen and join the email newsletter on www.foundinestonia.ee.
And get in touch if you have any collaboration ideas! -> tiina@foundinestonia.ee

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#27 Alex Bitskov from Narva

#27 Alex Bitskov from Narva to the world and back to Estonia: I like when things are difficult

Listen to Alex, who is quite a special guest on Found in Estonia podcast! 

He is an Estonian who was born in Narva and moved to the UK when he was 12. Alex spent 4 years working in Japan, 1 year helping to build up a language school in Malaysia. Through the years has launched 4 startups and is now living and working back in Narva, Estonia.

He loves challenges, design, startups, Japanese culture, Estonian nature, and the startup world.

Even though he doesn't speak Estonian, he thinks Estonia is amazing and has lots of cool stuff. 

Wondering why he moved back to Narva? Listen to our chat to find out! 

Quote from Alex: "Also expats, if you’ve been here, in Estonia, over a year and haven’t visited Narva, then what are you doing?”

Listen now
#26 Brothers Joy and Jessi Verano from Peru to Estonia

#26 Brothers Joy and Jessi Verano from Peru to Estonia: I think that in Peru we should know more about Estonia

Listen to Joy and Jessi, who are brothers having lived in Estonia 8 and 10 years. They have several things to share! 

They're both passionate about the finance world, cryptocurrency, blockchain, and building businesses. Besides that they are super impressed with Estonian nature, love walking in the forest or in the bog, winter swimming, and yes sauna as well!

Not only do we talk about Estonia, but they share their TOP must-know-about-Peru facts and explain how can one catch a bus in Lima and what's up with their “Two hour consideration rule”?

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#25 Avishek Tarun from India to Estonia

#25 Avishek Tarun from India to Estonia: I applied to 300 different job offers, before moving to Estonia

Listen to highly energetic young guy Avishek sharing his story!

He introduces himself as a simple data guy - but what does it mean? It's quite remarkable, that Avishek spent 3 years and filled in over 300 job applications since he already knew, he wants to move to Estonia (or to Berlin)!

We'll hear what's up with frozen veggies or the lack of them in India, how Indian people distinguish between spicy and hot foods. 

How do Indian people plan their time without using a calendar?

And how he had to relearn how to make compliments in Estonia 😅 

Listen now
#23 Andrew Sai from Ghana to Estonia

#24 Andrew Sai from Ghana to Estonia: I love the sauna!

Listen to Andrew sharing why Africans never sleep in a tent, how does the naming system function in Ghana. Why does Andrew like the cold and sauna in Estonia?

How did he survive his first winter in Estonia, when the heating broke down? How did he manage to study and work full time? What are the differences in school systems in Ghana vs Estonia? What are the staple foods in Ghana? How does he enjoy winter sports here? And most importantly why did he prefer moving to Estonia instead of Australia?

Let’s find out!

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#23 Eunice Bolanle from Nigeria to Estonia

#23 Eunice Bolanle from Nigeria: My children like it because there is snow!

Listen to Eunice, who is a bubbly soul with a love for African food and entrepreneurship. She says Nigerian people are happy people and you should approach them more to get to know them better!

We talk about how Estonia is the first country, where she traveled outside of Africa. Why she decided to stay here. What does she think about Estonian foods, are there any similarities between her native language and Estonian?

Her first experiences with snow, sauna, and much more!

Join in and let’s travel to Nigeria!

Listen now
#22 Nikki Tan from Singapore to Estonia

#22 Nikki Tan from Singapore to Estonia: The air in Estonia is impossibly clean

Listen to how Nikki explains what it’s been like to travel the world as a digital nomad and how is it different from being a slow nomad.

Why after living in Estonia for three years, she still appreciates Estonian air quality and how clean it is!

She loves the sauna in her apartment (despite coming from a warm country), and tells why it’s hard to eat green leafy vegetables in Estonia.

She is amazed by our sour creme and dairy selection and compares it to tofu choices in Asian countries.

You might also ask, what’s up with giving our red envelopes and tangerines when you visit someone? And even if you didn’t ask it - we will talk about it! 🙂

Listen now
#21 Mihaela Benedicitie from Moldova to Estonia

#21 Mihaela Benedicitie from Moldova to Estonia: even if you move to Antarctica, you know you are a Moldovian!

Listen to how can one Moldovian woman, who has lived in Estonia for 6+ years, say that she doesn’t feel like an Estonian, rather “Kohilane”? Enjoy Miha’s very lively personality explaining how she first moved to Estonia. And how did she end up working in Kohila? In a village with just around 3000 people living there, is it worth living there?

Miha has a very colorful way of explaining everything to us, starting from the languages used in Moldova. Then sharing her transforming journey from studying architecture, learning woodworking, and now being immersed in Fin-tech and the world of numbers.

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#20 Viktorija Domarkaite from Lithuania to Estonia

#20 Viktorija Domarkaite from Lithuania to Estonia: Lithuanians are way too loud and eccentric

Listen to Viktorija sharing her passion for the jewelry world, giving insights into what it’s like to study in the Estonian Academy of Arts, how she got good at art history. How basketball in Lithuania has a similar meaning as singing in Estonia. Why do hey talk with their pets?? And hey are Lithuanians and Estonians actually similar?

Listen now
#19 Ucha Vekua from Georgia to Estonia

#19 Ucha Vekua from Georgia to Estonia: I was 15 years old and I decided I want to organise a huge hip-hop party

Listen to our very bubbly chat with Ucha from Georgia. Ucha is passionate about startups, has contributed a lot to Garage48 and ESN networks, and focuses on building his own platform under the name Startup Ventures.

He is a true activist, though at the same time a total introvert as he says. He shares how Eminem and hip-hop world kickstarted his journey to the startup world and living abroad. You’ll hear the inspiring story about how one project and opportunity took him to another! Today he’s lived in Estonia for 5 years and totally appreciates this opportunity!

Listen now
#18 Penelope Piip from Australia to Estonia

#18 Penelope Piip from Australia to Estonia - "Being a red head I tend to blend in!"

Listen to as we chat with a lovely lady Penelope Piip, who has lived in Tartu for nearly 16 years already! She has seen Estonia changing and developing from inside and outside. And her first impressions coming to Estonia from Australia, were: it’s like going back in time with these tiny highways!

Get ready to hear more about lace making and handicraft, her journey ending up in Estonia, how she became board member of Eesti Niplispitsi selts and whether she wears shoes indoors and much more!

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#17 Tiina and Kaisa

#17 Tiina and Kaisa - reviewing 2020 and going over all the episodes!

Time for a duo show! Tiina and Kaisa sending away year 2020, discussing what were their highlights this year and what are their plans for the next year!
The majority if this episode goes over all the 16 episodes published! Tiina and Kaisa put themselves to the test and share what stood out to them from each episode!
They share memories from behind the recording and things they can recall from the chats!
Let us know if you can also remember all of these things and what would you add!


  • 00:00 - What were our highlights in 2020?
  • 12:14 - Revisiting all the episodes
  • 1:03:11 - From which countries would we love to have our next guests?
  • 1:05:35 - Things gained from making this podcast?
  • 1:07:18 - What is something in your bucketlist for 2021?
  • 1:09:7 - Podcast goals for 2021!
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#16 Jameela Prits from Palestine to Estonia

#16 Jameela Prits from Palestine to Estonia - Estonians are living their own lifestyles, don’t think people will focus on you!

Listen to how Jameela talks about differences between Palestinian people and Estonians. She shares, how she learned to speak almost perfect Estonian, how she doesn’t think winters here are too harsh. She shares her love for mashed potatoes and explains as how she grew up wearing hijabi. Get ready for some Palestinian health hacks and hearing about traditional Palestinian wedding traditions.

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#15 Marino Bresciani from Italy to Estonia

#15 Marino Bresciani from Italy to Estonia -
“Italians can absolutely work hard, the point is, we realise we don’t always have to.”

Listen to how Marino talks about working in IT during the day and in the dance world during evenings. Marino started to appreciate Estonian food and the life in Tartu after living in Finland. He shares, how he turned his passion for latin dances into a blooming dance studio. What are the differences between Estonian introverts and Estonian extraverts. How different it might be to take care of some paperwork in Italy vs in Estonia. And Italian espresso vs Estonian coffee.

Listen now
#14 John Avila from Colombia to Estonia

#14 John Avila from Colombia to Estonia -
“Before coming to Estonia I was just a plain software engineer.."

Listen to how John's life changed after he started drinking kama with keefir for breakfast to blend in more or maybe it was thanks to the clever hack, how he learned to say the letter “Ö” in Estonian and probably getting into composing music had its contribution.

We’ll find out through his highly entertaining stories. He also shares, why Colombian people are so intense in making eye contact. And how feelings in general are just not Estonian thing, except maybe, when it comes to our Singing festival. Then it’s a totally different story.

Listen now
#13 Iryna Krepchuk from Belarus to Estonia

#13 Iryna Krepchuk from Belarus to Estonia

Listen to how we chat with Iriyna about her upbringing in Belarus. We talk about Belarusian language and its new wave, about how she uses Russian and English language in Estonia. We dive deep into her musical background. We talk about how much Estonians dislike talking on phones. We get into different local traditions Kadripäev, Mardipäev, Jaanipäev and the story of Tahma-Toomas - let us know, if you’ve heard about Tahma-Toomas before!

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#12 Jaime Delgado - from Chile to Estonia

#12 Jaime Delgado - from Chile to Estonia

Listen to how Jaime talks about moving to Tartu, Estonia which is on the opposite side of the world fir him. First impressions after landing - wow, this country is so FLAT!
Some other memorable impressions were seeing an Estonian hot dog for the first time, realising that his university building has its own sauna, people eating open sided sandwiches, not being able to find Pisco sour here and so much more.

Listen now
#11 Mathilde Roch-Penet - from France to Estonia

#11 Mathilde Roch-Penet - from France to Estonia

Listen hilarious stories about studying art in Estonia, how sauna can help one feel better in their skin, 3-course eating habits in France, Mathilde's first impressions when seeing Estonia's highest hill..  Stories behind her tattoos, how safe is it really to walk around in Tallinn, as a female, in the middle of the night. How she is constantly impressed, being able to see stars in the sky here and how she compares Estonians with jam and coconuts.

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#10 Taavi Suikkanen - from Finland to Estonia

#10 Taavi Suikkanen - from Finland to Estonia

Listen to how Taavi shares what annoys him about Estonia and Estonians. And also, how he enjoys the speed of Estonians. He shares his opinion about whether Estonians actually have their own standards, whether we should accept Russian language as our national language. The pressure of today’s society etc. He also shares his views about HR and music industry.

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#9 Tati Becks- from Brazil to Estonia

#9 Tati Beck - from Brazil to Estonia

Listen to how Tati found out that Estonia is the best place in the world, to live surrounded by beautiful women. After reading that and knowing, that her boyfriend is moving to Estonia, her decision was easy. Now she says Estonia truly is a sweet spot and she really likes it here. Some things started finally making more sense here - like Santa wearing an actual winter coat and winter boots. And something that shocked Tati was seeing people sunbathing in the middle of the street.

Listen now
#8 Ada Hisunova from Ukraine to Estonia

#8 Ada Hisunova - from Ukraine to Estonia

Listen to how Ada shares a glimpse of her life in Estonia, how she moved to Tartu to learn Spanish language and literature. How she loves dancing both male and female parts. How she is crazy about Estonian pastry kohupiimatasku, how she keeps a list of boardgames, that she has played or wants to buy.

Listen now
#7 Shahab Abarjafari - from Iran/KKTC to Estonia

#7 Shahab Abarjafari - from Iran/KKTC to Estonia

Listen to how Shahab shares a glimpse of his life in Estonia. As the only computer vision scientist in the whole of Estonia, he established the first and now the largest computer vision lab in the Baltics! Being born in Iran, having lived in multiple countries and now having lived 8 years in Estonia, Shahab says for him Estonian culture is the perfect culture!

Listen now
#6 Avery Schrader - From Canada to Estonia

#6 Avery Schrader - From Canada to Estonia

Listen to how Avery shares his story of living in Estonian startup bubble, how everybody in Estonia is 2 calls away, differences between Estonian and South Western book salesmen, why does he think our cakes are weird. How he likes the supportiveness of Estonian entrepreneurs. And how to get to know people in Estonia.

Listen now
#5 Buluthan Aktaş - From Turkey to Estonia

#5 Buluthan Aktaş - From Turkey to Estonia

Listen to how Buluthan, found out about Estonia through Eurovision Song Contest. Among learning, that he now has his own candy here, he also discovered, that Asia is not the only place, where people enjoy eating plain rice. We’ll also make a deep dive into - are Turkish and Estonian languages similar?

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#4 from Spain to Estonia - Rafiki Salieto

#4 Rafiki Salieto - from Spain to Estonia

Listen to how Rafiki came to conclusion, that it’s his destiny to move to Estonia! He came here with a hobby of visiting all the museums around him and 200 different museum visits in Estonia and still going strong!? And he really says, there’s more to visit!

Click to listen and read the transcript
#3 from USA to Estonia - Chris Raastad

#3 Chris Raastad - from USA to Estonia

Listen to how it turns out, that all Chris needed to start taking Estonian language learning seriously, was to miss one train ride with his Erasmus friends. And thanks to singing in a choir, taking intensive language courses and bathing in “Estonian showers” as he calls it - he can now confidently add Estonian to one of the languages that he speaks.

Listen now

#2 Sandra Valle - from Mexico to Estonia

Listen to, why there are no SPA’s in Mexico, how Estonian can be used as a secret language, Sandra’s love for “heeringas” and why you shouldn’t smile too much during Estonian winter and what does it mean, that Estonia and Mexico are opposite.

Listen now

#1 Rufat Dargahli - from Azerbaijan to Estonia

Listen to how Rufat recognizes Estonians on the street, how he already grew up with the love for potatoes, why the word “allahindlus” made him think all the shops in Estonia are religious! How he managed to get locked up in a local church. Also how Estonian weather is similar to Kinder surprise!

Listen now

What will you hear in the episodes?

  • Estonian expat stories

    Each person has a unique story of how they ended up living in Estonia. We explore, what they like about this country and what they actually don’t.

  • Weirdest things about Estonian culture?

    Some say it’s weird, that Estonians eat raw fish? That they sweat together with their colleagues in a dark room, while being totally naked? And that every June they come together to jump over actual bon-fires? – anything else?

  • Topics among, how to recognise and become friends with Estonians

    Where to find locals, how to make them smile and what do they like to talk about?

Not simply a podcast, but a community bringing listeners together! One episode, actual get-together, valuable product at a time, creating a more openminded and inspiring community of people, no matter your origin. Join us! 💙

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Meet your hosts: Tiina and Kaisa

Tiina loves travelling, discovering new places and meeting new people. It helps, that she speaks five languages, has lived in 5 different countries and yes she does have two "i"-s in her name! She's also passionate about combining design, marketing and business worlds smoothly with hers.

Tiina Pärtel

Tiina Pärtel


Kaisa is a badass with blue hair. Try to guess, what she hasn't done yet - jewellery line, art business, writing a book, living abroad, hosting radio shows.. It's safe to say she enjoys living life to the fullest, meeting new people and having deep conversations with them!

Tiina Pärtel

Kaisa Holsting


  • q-iconHow to get in contact with you?

    Write to us at podcast@foundinestonia.ee

  • q-iconHow can I listen to podcasts?

    Listen to them straight from our website or find us on your favorite podcast app.

  • q-iconI have some ideas for your next guests!

    That’s awesome! Reach us at podcast@foundinestonia.ee

Get in touch!

Know someone we should talk to? Want to collaborate? Have ideas? Write to us here!