One of my chief concerns about moving to Tartu was its lack of sea. Tartu has water, a silty, slithering river known as the emajõgi, but there were no major geographic boundaries from which I could get my bearings.
As a child, I always lived by the sea. I always knew it was there, often minutes or less from our door. Even if I didn't go out of my way to see it everyday, I sensed it. I smelled its air. I could feel the dark humidity before a thunderstorm. It helped keep me, in some ways, sane.
It was my fear that by moving to Tartu, I would be somehow stuck in the Missouri of Estonia. My own internal bias was that all landlocked people eventually went mad. I didn't want to go mad and, as you can see, I haven't gone quite mad yet.
That is due to two reasons. First, Estonians themselves have an island mentality, even if one "coast" is a marshy border with Latvia. So no matter where you are in Estonia, you are still delineated by the Baltic and Peipsi. Second, Tartu itself is an island community that just happens to be surrounded by farms instead of sea. Going anywhere -- to Põlva or Otepää or Lake Peipsi -- takes some adjustment. When you are lost in Tartu, the outside world might as well not exist.
In Tartu, you forget that the rest of Estonia doesn't voluntarily wear 19th century university corporation fashion accessories to the supermarket. The rest of Estonia isn't brimming with people who call themselves "poets" by profession. In Tartu, thrill-seeking Americans gather together to ... drink beer and carve pumpkins.
The bevy of nighttime entertainment leaves you breathing room to roam from the cavernous püsirohukelder to the crowded Zavood, to the old-timey Vilde's. If you want Georgian, there's the Gruusia Saatkond. Italian? La Dolce Vita. Libraries? We've already lost count of those.
Why would one ever leave Tartu island when everything you need is right here?