Philip McGraw once said, “Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.” It’s been just over five weeks since I arrived in Vilnius and had my first taste of Lithuania. The initial week was a whirlwind of orientation, acclimation, and establishing a new routine.

Subsequent weeks have seen increasing sunlight and warmth, along with a settled weekly rhythm. Weekdays are filled with academic pursuits, complemented by spontaneous ice cream runs, visits to local coffee shops, group movie nights, and extracurricular activities like intercultural dance classes and worship nights. Weekends offer opportunities for exploring Klaipeda, grocery shopping, spiritual growth, and culinary experimentation.

Enjoying gelato with friends in Klaipeda

Amidst the excitement and daily adventures, there have been moments of personal challenge, cultural learning, and community building. Transitioning to a new culture is never easy, but as Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing worth having comes easily.” Below, I’ve shared some brief excerpts highlighting some of my adventures, growth, and learning experiences.

Study session with Agathe!
Adventures in the Kitchen

At LCC students are expected to prepare most of their meals themselves. While I do not consider myself a kitchen expert, I ambitiously decided to make potato soup during the first week of classes. Thinking it couldn’t be too difficult, especially since I was feeling cold and soup sounded comforting, I spent two hours in the grocery store gathering ingredients. Despite returning confidently to the dorms, ready to showcase my culinary skills, the two-hour shopping trip turned out to be just a taste of the commitment required to make this soup.

Making potato soup

I began my cooking adventure around 5:00 PM, expecting to eat by 6:00 PM. However, after peeling five pounds of potatoes and putting them on the stove to cook, I realized they would take much longer to cook than anticipated. Additionally, I discovered I didn’t have a potato masher or blender. Despite these setbacks, after about three hours, several burns, and many moments of doubt, I managed to create a delicious soup.

Although the process was laborious, the taste made it worthwhile, which was a good thing considering the large quantity I made ensured I would have soup for weeks to come. In fact, I’m currently in week five and still have some frozen in my freezer for a special occasion!

Dancing to Intercultural Rhythms

Every Thursday night, LCC hosts intercultural dance classes where participants learn about the cultural background of various dances and practice basic steps. I’ve been introduced to traditional Lithuanian folk dances, dances from Mozambique, and American East Coast swing through these classes. Despite not being a great dancer, I found it enjoyable to explore other cultures and traditions through dance.

Lithuanian folk dance involves flowing skirts for women and heavy jackets for men, along with group weaving movements, rhythmic clapping, and partner spinning. It was fun getting dizzy with friends and trying not to embarrass myself too much.

Participating in traditional dancing at a Lithuanian festival

Swing classes were enjoyable for a different reason. I convinced my sister to join, and we spent the evening messing up, flinging each other into turns, and stepping on toes while attempting the Charleston together. It amazed me how beautiful it was to learn a somewhat familiar dance like swing in an intercultural setting with classmates from around the world. Dance seems to transcend cultural barriers, uniting us despite our diverse backgrounds and experiences. 

My sister and I practicing swing dancing!
Becoming a Real Traveler

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when the recently exposed green grass glittered in bright sunlight when my sister and I decided to take an excursion to visit the Klaipeda travel center. The start of our trip went flawlessly — the bus we wanted to take showed up on time and deposited us exactly where we needed to be.

As we stepped off the bus, we were met by a beautiful city, warmth, and sunshine that made it so we were positively skipping down the cobblestone pathways. However, when we arrived, the center was dark inside. It turned out that the travel shop was not open on the weekends. So we changed our plans, strolled through the beautiful old town of Klaipeda, took a photo in Theater Square where Hitler gave a speech, and walked up a tiny staircase. Although our original plans did not work, we still had a wonderful experience and learned how to slow down to acclimate to the pace of life in Lithuania. 

While I’m sure there are many more experiences to come, that’s all for now! Thank you for joining me on this adventure!

Published by Elianna Kuehn

Class of 2024 LCC International University in Klaipėda, Lithuania

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