My Lithuanian ERASMUS Experience

Michaela Valentová

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11/1/2018 at 11:32
After 16 hours in a bus full of excitement, with large suitcase, backpack and on-board luggage, we finally made it – we reached the country that my grandma never forgets to call Russia – we reached Lithuania. We met our mentor (thanks to ESN), who promised to take us to dormitory. After I stopped the bus station from working as my suitcase stuck in the doors for several minutes, we observed the very first treasure of Kaunas – trolleybuses made in Czechoslovakia. We took one, interfering the personal space of other passengers with our luggage. Later on, we experienced the very first Lithuanian rain. Many more were about to come. All the streets of Kaunas (we thought) were probably being repaired that day. We were walking with all our luggage trying to pass around excavators, trucks and other machines with no free hand for holding an umbrella. When we eventually reached the dormitory, we must have looked terrible! The doorkeeper offered to carry up our suitcases and since that, the dorm has felt like heaven.
We arrived in the late August so we also went through an episode called Welcome Week. At the beginning, shockingly for me, everybody was a friend with everyone. Later with time, all the people (within us) started to lose their open-mindedness. However, my Erasmus taught me that even with complete strangers from faraway countries it is still easy to find topics to talk about. The hardest thing was to remember all the new names, and here, I need to thank to smart technologies and social networking – without adding all those people on Facebook, I still wouldn’t have a clue what are their names.
When the school finally started we spent most of our time fixing our timetable, which reminded me a lot of our university. However, later, we realized that the studying style is completely different here. The lectures are usually more interactive but less informational. The students also get a lot of small pieces of homework, so it reminded us more of a secondary school.
My strongest Lithuanian experience was seeing a dentist. When I reached the clinic my mentor recommended and they refused to help me, I realized how vulnerable a person feels while seeking a doctor. When I managed to get an appointment, I was scared to death when my only-Lithuanian-speaking doctor started showing me fake teeth. At first, I thought that this would never happen in the Czech Republic. It took me several days to realize that it would. Czech Republic is by no means friendlier to foreigners than Lithuania. In fact, many people speak English here (except doctors) and older people always speak Russian.
We also travelled a lot in here, our most amazing trip was to Curonian Spit, which is an extra-ordinary place. Who would expect to find wide, endless beaches and also dunes in Lithuania? Although the coast of Baltic Sea is amazing, Lithuania is more a country of forests and lakes. Unfortunately, this country is not really lucky with weather. So in autumn it is really plain, boring and depressing. Strangely, Lithuanians are not really adapted to their weather. Maybe this explains the unflattering statistics of suicides here.
Although we live in the second biggest city in Lithuania – Kaunas, it often feels like living in a village. Not far from the city centre you can find chipped villas with large gardens and bumpy gravelly roads. Once I was crossing a really busy four-lane road and after few steps I saw an old man sharpening his scythe in front of a raffish house. I think, Kaunas is just like that – a combination of metropolis and a village, nothing between. Besides, it is a city of amazing large parks and remarkable graffiti.
There is many more I could talk about, for example Lithuanian obsession with brands and shopping centres or regrettable density of memorials of Jewish massacres, but then I wouldn’t stop writing for two more days. Moreover, how can I fit four-month experience in one article?