/ Erasmus

Erasmus III - Welcome to Tallinn

The eagle has landed

As those of you who follow my posts from the beginning know I arrived from Oslo, which I visited on my way from Prague. Tallinn is only about 75 minutes flight away from Oslo so there was not much to do on the way. Also I can’t show you the city from above as it was cloudy during the entire flight. Actually It has been cloudy ever since I left Oslo.

The first thing I noticed after arrival was how small the airport is. It’s just runway and small building where you wait for the planes to depart.
Tallinn airport
My buddy Karel was waiting for me there. It was very helpfull for me to have him pick me up, as for reasons not mentioning here, I hadn't checked pretty much anything prior to my departure from home. Luckily he knew all that was needed to get to the place that will be my home for next couple months.

I will do a post about transportation here later, but one thing I want to mention here. Despite the fact that Tallinn is much smaller than Prague it takes longer to get across the city. Reason? Well you are pretty much stuck with busses for most of your travel. Sorry, no metro.

Anyway after settling in and signing contract with landlady we head to the city center. It was already a bit late and also I was quite hungry after traveling from Norway so it was time for lunch. Karel took me to Vabaduse väljak, which is Tallinn's Freedom square, to sit and have tasty kebab there. While enjoying the food we discussed what are all the things that we, as students, are required to do after arrival. Quite a lot of stuff, you will see in next part.

But before starting with that it seemed like a good idea to get to know the city a little bit. Later I will share more with you about where to go and where to find interesting things in Tallinn. Now let's just say that it's very easy to walk pretty much everywhere in the center and you can't get lost here because sooner or later (probably sooner) you will end up at the same place where you started, no matter how lost you were. Now let's get to work.

Peter’s law #28

You say the title doesn’t make sense? I can understand that if you don’t know who Peter Diamandis is. Google him and check the list of the laws. The number 28 goes like this:

Bureaucracy is an obstacle to be conquered with persistence, confidence and a bulldozer when necessary.

I like the bulldozer part, if you ask me.
There was quite a lot of papers to be filled already before the exchange even started, but as we all know, it's never ending story. So let's get into it.

First thing was the so called “green card”[1] used for public transportation here. That’s easy, just short visit in any R-kiosk and for 2€ it’s yours. One month ticket will than cost you 23€.

Green card

As a student you are probably going to stay here more than three months. That means you need to register your living place for residency and get you Estonian ID card.[1:1]

Estonian ID card

Downside of that is more papers to be filled with again the same data, but it gives you the possibility to travel in Tallinn for free if you have the residency registered in the city. Oh and the ID will cost you 25€ and a passport image. If you have questions about that don’t hesitate to ask me. As a side note I would say the city office in my part of Tallinn Lasnamae was quite nice as well as the office people there.
Office building

Is ID card smart?

After you have done your paperwork at the police office and city office you will get the Estonian ID number and after couple days also the fyzical ID card. It can take up to a month but most likely it will be faster.

The ID number is your personal identification here, something like social security number in US or birth number in Czech Republic.
At home we are used that our IDs are pretty useless in everyday life. Fortunately it's different here. As mentioned it allows you to have free public transportation in Tallinn. You have to register your Estonian ID (the number) with your transportation card for that.

The card itself is used as a kind of your personal key. What I mean by that? You use it to get into library, sign in to university computers or rent electric cars from city car sharing service[1:2]. I haven't tried the last option yet, maybe later.

As you can see it can be used instead of having multiple cards for each service. The only limitation I see so far is, it can be used only in places where you can read contact chips, the ones that you have on your credit card. Other places that use the contactless NFC technology you need to have other card like the green Smart card or student card.

School has cards as well

Similar to my home university you need to get either ISIC card or Estonian student card. You will use these to access sport center and if you get the rights also rooms or buildings. As mentioned you have free transportation in Tallinn with the Estonian ID but you still need NFC card for validation. And here comes handy the student card (either of them). Just register it[1:3] with your Estonian ID and you are good to go.


It's just the beginning of long story now. A lot of paperwork was needed to get here and more to be able to stay and live here. Couple days later, after spending some calm time exploring Tallinn I must finally say I start to enjoy the stay more. It's only few days in my stay, but I already feel like I am here quite long. Not because I would feel home sick, but because every day brings so much new inputs. You can't get that many new experiences every day at home, where you know pretty much everything. Next time I hope to share with you more experiences and less technicalities.
Until next time over and out.



  1. Registering the ISIC/student card for public transport ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

Ondra Brem

Ondra Brem

Information technology student above everything enjoying traveling, photography and playing ultimate frisbee. Born and living in Czech Republic, but counting the Earth as home.

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