Travel tale from Vilnius
My name is Veronica and I’m a … vagabond! Yes, because I love to travel and learn languages to get in touch with the country that give me hospitality. I had several experiences all over the world, in Costa Rica (AFS Intercultural Programs), England (TGS Eurogroup), Germany (Limes Project), Cannes (Leonardo Da Vinci internship Project), Paris, Abu Dhabi, Nice. Now it’s the turn to Vilnius!
“I’m leaving for three months; I will go to Vilnius with the Leonardo Project for an internship!” I gave the announcement eagerly to all my family and friends.
“Where are you going??? Where is this place??? It’s really far???” Those are the questions I have had to answer for a month before my departure. Nobody knew where Lithuania was and I have had to show it on the map several times.
I reassure everybody and on June 07th, 2014 I took a plane and I started a new adventure.
I found in Vilnius a totally new place, new language, new lifestyle, new kitchen … Another challenge for me! The first things I have noticed were:
- The landscape: no mountains! This is a shocking thing for me used to live surrounded by mountains!
- There is a lot of green inside the city and near the city: parks, reserves, gardens, forests … in five minutes from the city centre you are plunged in the nature! There are also two rivers that pass through the city and reflect the relaxed rhythm of life characteristic of Vilnius! And the lakes: wow, I love all these lakes spread all over the territory where people meet for have fun, play, pick-nicking, relax,…
- The light: sun rose at five in the morning and fell at ten in the evening but the light lasted longer and the horizon was always bright all night long (now the days are already shorter);
- The temperature: when we arrived it was really cold! Fortunately, the following weeks the summer comes with the sun shining, high temperatures (very high, amazing for this place!) and even baths in the lakes!
- Lithuanian is an incomprehensible language, different to whatever I have heard before!
Two days after my arrival I have started a two weeks course of Lithuanian and I could learn and understand something new in addition to the previous observations:
- Lithuanian is a VERY difficult language, really hard to learn!
- The traditional Lithuanian food is very heavy but delicious, and the most used ingredients are sugar (a looooot of sugar!) and the sour cream.
- People are really attached to their culture, history and traditions, they aren’t contaminated by the rest of the world and they maintain their identity and peculiarity: really praiseworthy and upright!
- The history of this little country (do you know that in the XIV century was a very big Grand Duchy reaching the Black sea???) is fascinating and full of unexpected surprises. Before coming I have read a book of a Lithuanian girl living in America, Ruta Sepetys, with the title “Between Shades of Gray” and I was shocked by this side of the history that nobody has taught me in the school… So I have had the opportunity to delve deeper into this matter (I suggest to everybody this book for understand of what I am speaking about!).
Walking along the streets of Vilnius I was amazed by the big amount of churches spread all over the city, the typical one-time street markets with their traditional products, the historical reenactments, the passion for the flowers and the mixed berries, sold at every streets’ corner with all weather… a burst of culture and tradition in the everyday life. This amazing city combines past and present, tradition and innovation, history and new identity.
With the beginning of the placement I got in touch with the local people and I have had the possibility to take a look at the lifestyle in this part of Europe. Lithuanian people are discreet and reserved but also really kind, hospitable and friendly! I have met a lot of people and new friends that had shared with me information about their culture, traditions and so on, for let me be more inside their life. They gave me part of their identity with love and passion. It’s incredible, we are all in Europe and we share the same European Identity but we don’t know each other! And we haven’t the same traditions! Lithuanians are very proud of their country but they are also really happy to be part of the European supranational project and they are looking forward to take the Euro next year.
We need to let the common places drop if we would really meet the others and their cultures. This is the secret of discovery: strip ourselves of the preconceptions and our personal believes for hailing the other with all its cultural baggage. We can see it not like alienation but a temporary loss of memory.
By my side, the only thing I regret is the inadequate knowledge of the language, the only thing that could have helped me in scrutinise more this amazing and interesting culture.
I invite you to come and see this amazing city as a step of your European and worldwide tour!
I can’t tell you more; I can’t deprive you of the wonderful experience of discovery!
What are you waiting for? Go discover the world!