The 38th edition of SELL Student Games takes place in Estonia. What is Estonia good at and what should you consider before travelling to Tartu for the games?

Be ready for high quality of life and clean air

Estonia is ranked 12th in the world when it comes to the quality of life. Estonia is also one of the places with the cleanest air in the world and the 6th most forested nation in Europe. Today Estonia holds the number 4 spot in the world for sustainability.

Don’t be surprised when you meet supermodels

Estonia produces more fashion models per capita than any other country in the world with about 74 models per one million people. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Estonians are the 3rd tallest people in the world, according to a century-long study. The average height for Estonian women is 169 cm and 180 cm for men.

Smart people everywhere you look

The results of the 2018 PISA study rank Estonia’s basic education as the best in Europe. Estonia’s 15-year-olds rank 1st in reading, science, and mathematics in Europe. And in the world, Estonia’s students rank 5th in reading, 8th in mathematics, and 4th in sciences. Consequently, Estonia also has a literacy rate of 100%.

Opportunities here and there

Estonia has gained attention in various international measurements like internet freedom, economic freedom, and overall quality of life. This equates to the most startups per capita in Europe.

Estonians are not THAT religious

According to statistics from 2021, 58% of the people in Estonia don’t feel an affiliation to any religion. This has increased from 54% in 2011. The most prevalent faith in Estonia is Orthodox Christianity.

People speak a lot of languages in Estonia

According to statistics from 2021, Estonian is spoken by 84% of people living in Estonia. The second most spoken language in Estonia is Russian which is a mother tongue to 30% of the population and in total 67% of the population in Estonia can speak Russian. 47% of the population speak English, 11% German and 7% Finnish. 

Trees here and trees there

More than half of the land area in Estonia is covered by forests. 30% of the forest area is also under protection. Forest is also recognised as a recurring theme in Estonian folklore, inspiring storytellers and painters that have produced beautiful landscapes. The largest forests are found in northeastern and central Estonia. 

No mountains here

At 318 metres tall, Suur Munamägi (translation: “Big Egg Mountain”) would barely be considered a hill in most countries. But in Estonia, it’s the highest peak in the country. In fact, it’s the highest peak to be found anywhere in the Baltic states. 

The anniversary of SELL Student Games brings over a thousand athletes to Tartu from all around the world. The patrons of the games are the President of Estonia Alar Karis and the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The sports patron of the games is a former student athlete and Olympic gold medalist and world champion Julia Beljajeva. 

SELL Student Games take place from the 19th-21st May in Tartu and this year marks the hundredth anniversary of the games. During these three days students compete in 16 different sports. Right now there are 80 days left until the start of the games and that means that it is time to introduce the patrons of the games.

The patron of the games is the President of Estonia Alar Karis who mentioned the importance of physical activity also in his speech on the 105th anniversary of Estonia. “But when speaking about mental health, we must also emphasise every person’s diligent daily efforts to keep their home, relationships, and community in good working order. Like an ant who doesn’t allow rubbish to build up in their nest. With humans, it entails anything that undermines our mental and physical wellbeing. This being the Ministry of Culture’s “Be Active Year”, we will discover that the more we move, the healthier we become,” said the president on the 24th of February. 

The second patron of the games is the International University Sports Federation (FISU) which has stood up for gender equality in sports for years now. “University sport, by its very nature, plays a key role as a building block, or foundation, for the development of future communities and societies. It is with this sense of immense responsibility that FISU takes concrete steps towards ensuring gender equality at its sports and education events, as well as in its governance,” stands in FISU’s values. 

Of course there is no way that the games can take part without a sports patron. This year the sports patron is Estonian fencer Julia Beljajeva who has won the award of the best female athlete of Estonia multiple times. Besides medals in the international high level competitions, Julia has also been a student athlete. She has taken part in the FISU World University Games twice. Her best results have been the 6th place as an individual in 2011 and the 4th place with the team in 2013. 

Julia Beljajeva is a coach to young athletes and has encouraged young athletes in the media. “I think that you should never give up on your dreams. Even if nothing works out and you lose sometimes – this means nothing. I have lost many matches in my life. These are not losses but experiences,” she said after winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games in 2021. 

All student athletes can take part in the student sports celebration in Tartu but they aren’t the only ones who can enjoy it. SELL Student Games also need volunteers and fans who will create an unforgettable atmosphere for the young athletes. All the people from Tartu, Estonia and all around the world are more than welcome to join the games!

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