1. Introduce yourself briefly + Three facts about you
I am Arina, a third-year international student from Russia, one of the last students completing Business Administration and Languages degree. I am passionate about intercultural learning and strong friendships, which are even cooler when combined. I tend to be quite stubborn and have a very strong sense of fairness, which I view as both positive and negative sides of myself, depending on the situation.
I am the best provider of tea and kitchen dances in town:)
- I am a natural extravert, but I am very careful with the people I surround myself with. I take people in my life as the biggest source of inspiration and love.
- I am quite straight forward. Sometimes it may throw people off, but It also means I may be the person who will give you the most amazing compliment. You better take it, because I mean it.
- Despite having one of the most common Russian surnames, I come from a very mixed background. My family has Russian, Jewish, Volga German and Saami ties to it.
2. You’re actually from Moscow, why did you decide to come to Estonia to study?
Yes, I was born and raised in Moscow, which is an amazing city you should all visit!
The story of me coming to Estonia is quite a strange one.
I grew up in a very open-minded environment and started catching interest in different cultures at an early age, so I always knew I wanted to be an international student. I more or less had a plan of where and when I would go to university. Then one day that plan just collapsed, and I felt quite disoriented for a moment, the same night I was sitting in my room and then “I should go to Estonia” just appeared in my head out of nowhere, not backed by any research or anything. The following month I was preparing the documents.
I do believe that some things just need to happen in your life. If circumstances, people or opportunities come my way, I just let them happen even if I can’t understand the reason for it right away. So far, all the reasons came sooner or later.
That is also how I moved to France when I was 16. Never learned French or had any connections to France, but it happened, and I am grateful.
As for now, I came to understand that moving to Estonia was one of the greatest things to happen with me so far. I grew to love it dearly.
3. What do you like most about EBS?
The ability to speak up and make a change. Growing up in a huge city and country, going to a regular school and being surrounded by collectivistic culture, you don’t get to see so much personal approach and interest in each student and what they think. During my first semester, I was fascinated by the fact that I can say my opinions out loud and they will actually be taken into consideration.
I also think that the sense of community powered by the fact that the school is so small is so endearing.
Also, being a part of International club has been such a great experience. Not only is our team an awesome one, it is also that we get to meet so many amazing people from all over the world. Cross-cultural friendships are a blast.
Last but not least, I couldn’t dream of being able to walk from university to the sea in 15 minutes:)
4. You work for an Estonian startup, tell us where and what you do there?
Yes, I work in a start-up called Zelos. We develop a platform which makes volunteer coordination smoother and helps to increase volunteer engagement and retention.
It was first used by PÖFF in 2017 and is still used by them yearly. Some other customers Zelos has helped are the Estonian Song and Dance Festival, Odessa International Film Festival and Ingrida Šimonytė’s Presidential campaign in 2019.
It is also one of those right things that just came my way. I have been volunteering internationally for the past 5 years and it has become a very important part of my life, which has taught me a lot and defined me in many aspects. So, the fact that I now work in a company that aims to improve volunteering sphere is really awesome, because Zelos and I met at the right place at the right time.
I was looking for a summer internship and a friend said that their start-up could use some help. I came there as an intern in June 2019 and ended up staying to work in the Sales department. It is applicable to many little startups, but basically every single person needs to be flexible in their abilities, one week you need to find 500 leads, another week you need to answer 70 emails per day and next week you need to bake 5 cakes cause “GUYS, INVESTORS ARE COMING OVER TO THE OFFICE!”.
It is lovely, I enjoy the challenge, the team, and a common wish to improve volunteering experience locally and globally. (Let’s collaborate!! https://www.getzelos.com)
5. How can you combine school and work?
Honestly, it is a challenge. Whatever I do, I tend to invest myself emotionally on a very big scale, so sometimes I get drained out because I want to perform my best here and there. Actually, I haven’t missed a single deadline so far, so it seems to be alright. It is inspiring to look back and see that the load of responsibilities that you’ve put on yourself was so scary at first, but has brought you so much experience, results and spirit to do bigger and better things.
6. Who did you want to become when you were young?
I once told my mum that I want to be a princess and got an eyeroll back, while I genuinely meant it…also, I am still young:)
Seriously though, I do not recall having an idea or dream of becoming someone or something. I think the best I can do is letting myself follow my own path, take on challenges head on, learn from them and remembering to enjoy life unfolding in front of me. I always thought that it is important to be a good person and trust your gut feeling, then right things will come at the right time.
Growing up, my grandma always told me that I should not think too far ahead, because there is no way to predict anything and it distracts you from the beautiful things happening today. She taught me that “aiming high” means being the best to myself and loved ones right now, because that’s what brings the best results for the future.
People who inspire me the most are not successful businessmen but rather wise humans who show kindness at the moments when nobody else can.
7. What drives you forward in life?
There are so many things that drive me forward!
The idea of breaking all my fears drives me forward. Being a good sister to my only brother drives me forward. Taking care of close people and seeing them happy drives me forward. A good cup of tea or a song can drive me forward too:)
It is about what you choose to drive you forward in a given situation.
Talking more generally, I guess it would be important to mention that I never stop coming up with something new. I keep questioning myself where I will go next and what will I do. I get inspired by many things, but it is probably my natural curiosity and an endless amount of support and love that I am surrounded by that give me the courage to drive forward. I always knew that I am not the person who stays at the same place and does the same convenient thing for years.
Zelos on social media: @Zelos_App
Editor: Tea Teesalu