– What are you currently doing in Oslo?
I am writing my master’s thesis on the language use of Estonian-Norwegian bilingual children, and I am in Oslo to meet these children and their parents. The main aim of my trip to Norway was to meet the groups I am studying. When I’m visiting, I talk to the children and ask them to tell me a story based on an illustrated book. I also ask the parents to fill out a questionnaire to provide an overview of the child’s linguistic background. After the visit, I transcribe the children's stories that I recorded for the purpose of describing and analysing their vocabulary and grammatical characteristics.
This is the first study of its kind about the two languages of Estonian-Norwegian children. The Mobility Grant I received made it possible for me to stay in Norway long enough to meet the families.
– What made you interested in Norway?
I have been interested in foreign languages and linguistics for a long time. I was excited at the thought of being able to learn a foreign language at university level without having any previous knowledge, and although I didn't know what to do with a degree in Nordic philology, I had the idea in my mind throughout upper secondary school.
I didn't plan to study Norwegian necessarily; At Tartu University they rotate between Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. I’m very happy that Norwegian was the language of choice the year I started. In addition to having met the best Norwegian teacher and the best fellow students in the whole world, I have come to understand that Norwegian culture is the Nordic culture that resonates the most with me. Linguistically, Norwegian is a goldmine – with two written variants and countless dialects, there is always something new and exciting to discover.
Through my Norwegian language studies, I have also realised that I enjoy language teaching and that I would like to work in that field in the future. Not least, I have discovered how wonderful Norwegian 'brown cheese' tastes on crispbread, and how much great music is produced in Norway.
– How has the COVID-19 situation affected your studies?
I have been at home, with digital teaching, almost since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Even if my fellow students in Estonia meet up physically, the lectures are also streamed, so that I can participate from Norway, all while writing my Master thesis here in Oslo. The corona situation means a lot of «home office» while writing the thesis or listening to recordings from my fieldwork. Before the pandemic, I liked studying at cafes and at the library, but right now my room in the student home is the place to be. Fieldwork should be safe both for me and the families I meet, so I avoid public places as much as possible. But I can still enjoy beautiful Oslo in autumn colours – I often buy a cup of coffee and go for a stroll in one of the many nice parks close to where I live.
– In what way is studying at a university in Norway the same/different than studying in Estonia?
Spending a semester in Norway is quite different from Estonia. On the one hand, I follow the teaching in Estonia online, read the curriculum and write assignments as usual. But when it comes to the research, I am the one who plan the field work, schedule meetings and decide how to spend the rest of my time. This is both exciting and rewarding, and sometimes also a bit scary. I have amazing supervisors who give me both practical and academic advice, and I have been well received at the Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Oslo. I feel very lucky to have received such support to think and work independently. This is something I will carry with me when I move back to Estonia, an ability that is useful in all future study and work experience.
– What do you want to achieve with your formal education?
After submitting my master’s thesis, I would like to carry on teaching Norwegian in Estonia. I would also like to teach linguistics at university. I would like to continue studying in Norway, but my goal is nevertheless to use my formal education in Estonia, so that more people can become familiar with Norway's exciting cultural and linguistic world.