Estonian student enjoys Southern hospitality

Estonian student enjoys Southern hospitality

Senior Daniil Proskura made the trip from Estonia to the United States without knowing a word of English. CW | Layton Dudley

Margaret Wilbourne

Daniil Proskura, a senior majoring in finance, travelled the 4,999 miles between Estonia to the United States without knowing a word of English. His form of communication? Tennis. The junior athlete was recruited by The University of Alabama after winning several international tournaments, such as the Finnish Pajulahti Cup, and moved to Tuscaloosa in 2011. While he says he “just figured things out” when it came to the new language, culture and pace of Southern life, Proskura’s sport was one thing that remained constant for the athlete, who has now nabbed the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year twice.

1. Why did you choose The University of Alabama? I didn’t know anything about Alabama, but a head coach who was working at [the University of Georgia] knew the head coach here, and since Georgia had already given out all their tennis scholarships, I [chose UA]. They never saw me play but they kind of went all in with me, and sent me a contract in the summer of 2010. My Estonian friend [who played at UGA] told me,’You really can’t go wrong with Alabama.

2. What’s the biggest difference from your home country? “The clothes and the trucks. Alabama just has such a Southern style, I had to buy a lot of clothes to not separate myself from the crowd. I started wearing boots and went hunting in Georgia, so I bought some camo. And the trucks, you never see trucks [in Estonia], not one. There’s no such thing as a truck as a car.”

3. Was it hard to adjust? If so, what was hard to adjust to and what was easy? “Because I’ve always traveled to Spain, France, everywhere, and have seen different cultures, for me, it wasn’t a hard adjustment. There was no big culture shock because I was used to it. I also wanted to be immersed in the language here so I could learn it [faster].”

4. What’s the weirdest things Americans do? “When I first came down here, the accent was really tough, I couldn’t understand a word. It’s also a lot slower pace in Alabama. I like a fast-paced environment, so I’m excited to live in a big city after I graduate.”

8. What is your favorite thing Alabamians do? “Since day one, everyone’s just been so nice. It’s really that ‘Southern hospitality.’ And the football games are [crazy]. My first time visiting here, in 2010, it was the weekend of the Florida game, which was a huge rivalry.

9. How do you feel about American food? “The food was really different, and I definitely gained more weight. In Eastern Europe there’s not any obese, and you really never eat outside of a house. You know, here, people go to like Applebee’s. We always ate at home, so the food was healthy. It’s also a very social thing.”