During the last 4 months, you've seen pictures/videos of me practically only pushing myself in the gym or studying at the desk. This is because I was in Germany and the experience there was not at all what I had originally imagined. Had I set my expectations too high? Probably. I laughed with my sister that I put the desire to leave Estonia to the universe, but I never specified the conditions. And I got it, I left Estonia, although on rather poor conditions. But I learned new lessons there - apparently, a stroke was not enough for me! Today, however, I'm back at home and I'll give you a rough idea of what was it like over there. But if you're only interested in my recovery, then click here.
Let's start with the reason I went there in the first place - internship. When the design manager of the vocational school made such an offer to me in the spring of 2022, my first reaction was a no, because of the rehabilitation. But soon I changed my mind to it could become the best experience of my life (joke's on me). However, when I finally got the internship offer in the autumn (it should be said that I study interactive design at school), I became worried because it only mentioned graphic design and one point briefly touched the web. But by then my mindset had already changed to I'm out of here - sayonara Estonia! So yes, I was worried, I talked about it at school, but every time discussing this topic we reached the point that you won't know before you try and you can always leave if it doesn't work. So I flew there, super excited, and super happy, but also worried about what was going to happen.
In my eye, an internship means that I do tasks that develop my knowledge in the field that I study; I am given enough work without me continuously having to ask for tasks, and I have a mentor whose main answer to questions is not: "I don't know - google it." I mean... I don't really need to go to school or to an internship to google?! But that's just in my eye. This rarely, if ever, happens in real life?! In Paderborn, everything was quite the opposite of how I see things and I quickly started looking for a new place, but what I couldn't find was a new internship. Then I thought that I should come back home and continue in Estonia, but after weighing the pros and cons, I realized that the wisest thing is to stay in Germany for the rest of the time, get my internship hours in, and learn more code on the side. You're probably thinking, wait, what code? Where did that come from?! Yeah. Let me explain that to you, too. When I returned from England in 2016, I went to study software development and became interested in frontend. However, life led me to a different path and I became a personal trainer instead. By the way, by now I have understood why life guided me from the code world to the trainer's track. I'm not sure if I've already told you this, but personally, the way I see it is that life knew I needed to understand a bit more about the human body to help myself personally with my stroke recovery. Anyway. When I started learning UX/UI, I was the only one in the course who knew code. So I was asked to write code for every project instead. I didn't really have anything against it, because it is still very interesting to me. Thus, I started to improve myself in this field on the side, until I was sure that I was 100% interested in code. So you can imagine how disappointed I was that nothing in the internship was even web design. So, the internship there was helpful in the way that I had to constantly leave my comfort zone to get these tasks done, and as you already know, I am of the opinion that no one develops while sitting in their comfort zone!
Hand in hand with ‘internship’, life school also started. First I had to start fighting my own demons and insecurities. But I also had to deal with manipulation, which when I finally stood up for, I got a backlash in the form of a threatening call. After this, I continued to keep my mouth shut just to avoid making life even more uncomfortable. I tried to suppress the urge to say something by trying to understand human psychology, but living strongly by the beliefs of "practice what you preach" and "actions speak louder than words", it is difficult for me to understand people who are two-faced. And the more I saw/experienced, the more everything started to rub my eye. So I am grateful that I had the opportunity to express myself to loved ones and therapists through the Internet.
Never assume that loud is strong and quiet is weak.
So, since the person I thought I was going to explore Germany with didn't exist, then how next? Alone in a foreign country - can’t even speak the language! But I thought it was okay - I have done it before. I followed a familiar path - tinder. Yes. You're probably thinking, hold on, what are you thinking with, girl - tinder?! But how else can a young person find new acquaintances in a new place these days, if they don't go to uni, there are no people their own age in the office, and they're not a party-goer? You can send me the answers to this question - I'd love to read your ideas!
It went very well at first. I immediately met two awesome like-minded people. Four hours passed in the blink of an eye without even looking at the clock with both of them. But that's where it stayed. Didn’t meet up again with either of them. All I heard were promises and excuses. So what happened? I mean, the conversations flowed, there were really many moments of recognition, and at the end of the evening, both of them said: "See you shortly!"
I don't know what happened, but I can only guess - I'm disabled now. You don't think about such things when you're healthy, but I can tell you very confidently, having experienced both, that it's much harder to make new friends when you're disabled. Especially for someone like me?! I mean... I'm still an activist at heart and I'm still looking for people like that by my side, but unfortunately, it seems like they're not interested in building a relationship with me anymore. And the question arises why? Am I somehow less worthy now? I wouldn't say so myself. Yes, I might not be able to keep up with all the craziness, but give me a chance, you don't even know me or what I'm capable of. Honestly, I'm not one of those people who use their diagnosis/condition as an excuse for everything - I'd rather find solutions.
I hear a lot of consolations on this topic, that at least now the people who come next to you have a deeper meaning and there are no more superficial acquaintances floating around. I understand where that is coming from, but it doesn't make it any better for me. So I’ll learn to live with this new reality eventually - as long as it lasts?! 🙈😁 Until I run a marathon, complete an ironman and whatever else, and then feel like myself again?! Also, I'll never forget the feeling I had when I first got home from the hospital and found myself watching ninja warrior on TV with my parents, and with tears in my eyes I told them that when I get well, I'll go to ninja warrior too - dream big, they say?
PS! I have to remind you that my thinking is not always so positive. There are more difficult moments where I cry relentlessly and tell myself that I will never recover or that I want to hang myself, etc., but the next morning or a couple of days later I pull my big girl pants back on and continue hustling. It's a constant battle with yourself.
About meeting the people. Yes, I met more, but with the rest, one or the other happened - EITHER there was nothing to talk about OR they wanted something I wasn't interested in. So, at one point, I just gave up on that also.
Since I've never been much of a solo adventurer, and after the stroke I'm even less so and I couldn't find people to socialize with there, so I created a routine for myself - exercise-work-studies. And since from the internship, I didn't get enough tasks, I bought myself courses - if I didn't get the necessary knowledge from the internship, at least the Erasmus money was spent on knowledge, lol 🤭
Lastly, I'll talk about my health and recovery, because that's what interests you the most - so much so that I've received quite a few private messages in the meantime!
One of the big reasons why I accepted the internship abroad was the hope of finding a doctor in Germany who could take my recovery to the next level. However, I did not take into account the fact that I went to Kuressaare in sense of Germany, and not to Tallinn. And in order to see a doctor, you’d have to go through a lot of paperwork, and you could get an appointment only after who knows what time. I even had problems with finding physios and masseurs without speaking German, and I was not satisfied with the ones I tried. So, unfortunately, I couldn't find any professional there, but since most of the recovery has to be done by myself, then that didn't change. The gym I went to was big and there were machines that aren’t in Kuressaare - especially for the upper body. I changed my training plan based on this and wow-wow-wow! When everything else didn’t go so well in Germany, then the most important thing - my recovery - made kangaroo jumps.
I started to feel a lot of muscles (I won't name them individually) that I had only been able to dream about for the past 2 years. I actually felt muscle pain on the right side of my body - what a powerful feeling it was! Please exercise, honestly, it's awesome! And my body started moving like it hasn't done in the last 2 years. The arm rotations are much better, the movement of the scapula mykke pro already, can do all kinds of tricks already with my shoulder, and also decent sets of squats are no issue anymore before my leg muscles get tired and I can no longer direct my knee outwards. Spasticity is also lessened.
Since my recovery now happens step by step with small movements/feelings, then from now on you can only follow my screams of joy via Instagram, and I only write here when something drastic happens or I find a new useful machine/method in the recovery scene.
Another big reason why I wanted to go there was to prove to myself that I can handle life on my own again. I can say that is also proven! But yes, I have to admit that I am quite limited when it comes to making food and I’m sick of frozen food! 😂
Looking back, Germany gave me the impression that life wanted me to put the work I’ve done on myself over the past two years to use. Some things came out that I have to better, and with parts I have to find out if I even want to change in this regard because you don't always have to suppress your own feelings/emotions in order to ensure a better life for others. But fucking hell. Never in a million years would I have thought that life would do so nasty.
But all in all. I am now back home smarter and more experienced than ever before, and Estonia welcomed me back so well. Sister waited at the airport with Llama (don't ask me why she looks so sad, but it's the thought that counts, and who knows it knows that lama has a big part to do in my recovery), gummies, and baby BMW. That same evening, I made a couple of faster laps with my car (LOVE IT) and then I already had my favorite shrimp soup at my aunt's place. The next morning I met my Magic Finger masseuse, who loosened my stiff muscles so much that the hand started to hold itself normally next to the body, no longer in front (hard work I put in in Germany broke loose), and of course, my star physio also got a visit, with whom we discussed a business idea to become a trainer for people with brain injuries 🥲
Next up, Saaremaa, where my little sausage, the rest of my family and friends are already waiting for me, and on Sunday I can say goodbye to age 29.
As the saying goes: "There is no good without bad." And I take all the bad if the good is so good!
Bring on new challenges! 🤷♀️😎