This blog post was written by Blessing, a Communications Management Ma student at Tallinn University.
About three years ago, as a prospective student from Nigeria who had just applied to study at Tallinn University in Estonia, I had an admission interview scheduled for a particular day in March. Of course, I was well aware of the time difference between Nigeria and Estonia, but little did I know that time changes due to Daylight Saving Time (DST) could affect my interview timing.
On the day of the interview, I eagerly waited for the interviewers to join the call, but they never did. Confused, I eventually sent them a message, only to find out they had been waiting for me at the specified time, but I hadn’t joined the call. Apparently, the time had changed the day before, and instead of being one hour ahead of Nigeria, Estonia was now two hours ahead. I had missed the interview!
I apologized to my contact person and the interviewers, explaining the situation. Thankfully, they were very understanding and rescheduled the interview for some hours later. If not for their kindness and leniency, I would likely not be studying in Estonia today.
It was a hard lesson but one that taught me to always double-check time conversions, especially when another country is involved. In this blog post, we’ll explore time zones, Daylight Saving Time, and time changes in Estonia to help you avoid any confusion.
Time Zones in Europe and Estonia’s Place in the Puzzle
To understand time zones in Estonia, let’s first take a brief look at the time zones in Europe. Europe is divided into three main time zones: Western European Time (WET), Central European Time (CET), and Eastern European Time (EET). Estonia is in the Eastern European Time zone, which is UTC+2 during standard time and UTC+3 during Daylight Saving Time.
In a nutshell, time zones are Earth regions with the same standard time. They are measured by the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. In Estonia, the standard time is 2 hours ahead of UTC (UTC+2).
Daylight Saving Time in Estonia
Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a practice that involves adjusting the clocks forward by one hour during the warmer months to extend evening daylight. In Estonia, as in most European countries, DST begins on the last Sunday of March at 3:00 AM local time when the clocks are set forward by one hour to 4:00 AM.
DST ends on the last Sunday of October at 4:00 AM local time when the clocks are set back by one hour to 3:00 AM. This means that during DST, Estonia is UTC+3. The setback is to conserve and ensure more daylight during the dark winter months. Fear not; I don’t mean dark, literally. It’s just that it gets dark early during those months.
Basically, during the winter season, Estonia observes Eastern European Time (EET) (UTC+02:00), while during the summer months, it follows Eastern European Summer Time (EEST) (UTC+03:00).
How to Keep Track of Time Changes
If you’re coming from a country where time doesn’t change at all, like Nigeria, keeping track of time changes in Estonia can be a bit confusing. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of time changes and avoid any mix-ups:
- Use World Clock Apps- There are several world clock apps and websites that can help you track time changes in different countries. Some popular options include WorldTimeBuddy, TimeandDate, and TheTimeNow. These tools can help you compare the local time in Estonia to your home country’s time and adjust your schedule accordingly.
- Enable Automatic Time Updates on Your Devices- Most smartphones, tablets, and computers can automatically update the time based on your location. Make sure to enable this feature on your devices so you don’t have to worry about manually adjusting the time when DST begins or ends
- Stay Informed- Keep an eye on news and announcements related to DST in Estonia. You can follow local media outlets, check official government websites, or join expat communities and forums to stay up-to-date on time changes.
- Create Reminders- Set reminders on your calendar or phone to alert you a few days before DST begins or ends. This will give you enough time to adjust your schedule and avoid confusion. For example, you can bookmark the dates of clock changes in Estonia and then use a countdown timer app or set a recurring alarm reminder to keep track of how many more days until the time change.
- Always Double-Check Times - Check time zone converters to confirm the time difference between your home country and destination country/place before important events and activities like interviews, flights, etc. The time difference may increase by an hour from April to October, and the specific dates vary from country to country.
Fun Fact: Estonia’s Brief Hiatus from Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time was first introduced in Estonia in 1917. Despite the German occupation, the country continued to observe the same regime. However, following the war, the USSR implemented different arrangements at times, but DST has been in use once again since 1981.
Between 2000 and 2002, the country decided to abandon DST and remained on Eastern European Time (UTC+2) year-round. However, since 2002, Estonia has followed the time change. Meanwhile, considerations are ongoing to abolish the seasonal time change.
While I needed some initial clarification over the different time zones and Daylight Saving Time in Estonia, it has been a valuable learning experience. I am now well-versed in keeping track of the time differences and ensuring I never miss an important call again!
Despite this slight hiccup, studying in Estonia has exposed me to new cultural experiences and opportunities for which I will always remain grateful. Of course, the time changes may still surprise me on occasion but with the beauty of four (+X) distinct seasons in Estonia, I have come to appreciate the time change. Meanwhile, it’s always cool to notice how the days get longer versus how they get shorter during the different times of the year.
Are you coming soon to study in this beautiful Baltic country? Then you need to understand the time zones, DST, and time changes to avoid missing crucial events and embarrassing moments like the one I experienced. And just so you know, the Daylight Saving Time this year began in Estonia last week, Sunday, March 26, 2023, at 3:00 AM and will end on Sunday, October 29, 2023, at 4:00 AM. See you in Estonia!