The Adventure Begins!
Exploring the Baltic Captial
My first thought when I stepped out of the airport in Vilnius, Lithuania, was, “It’s cold.” Indeed, no amount of internet research and mental pep talks could have sufficiently prepared me for the frigid weather that greeted me. After the shock of the weather had left my system, however, I realized that my research also had not prepared me for the beautiful city of Vilnius.
White Christmas lights twinkled from lamp posts like antlers laden with snow, bordering streets of ancient and modern architecture that melded into a collage of eras and history. Cobblestone pathways led to cafes, bookstores, and ancient castle towers. For a few moments, snow fell and blanketed the city in a serene mist before morphing into a powerful, whitening downfall.
Despite Vilnius’s inherent beauty, there were also darker elements to the city that showcased Lithuania’s difficult history like the Jewish ghetto, KGB headquarters, and mass graves. Lithuania lost approximately 90% of its Jewish inhabitants, 7% of the total population of Lithuania, and 40% of the population in Vilnius. This reminded me that every country in the world has a story — a guiding force behind some of the customs, traditions, and cuisine that set it apart in the modern world. It also humbled me.
After orientation in Vilnius, my group explored the deep history of Lithuania with a journey to Taraki to see a castle where the Grand Dukes of Lithuania presided.
One four-hour bus ride later, I arrived in Klaipeda where LCC International University is located. Like the weather here, my emotions for the first week came in waves of anxiety and excitement.
I got to learn how to navigate grocery stores in a foreign language, apply for a Visa, learn a new campus, start classes, discover a foreign city, and meet my roommates. During this time, I learned what was important to me (winter gear) and what mattered to me less than I thought it would (time difference from friends and family).
Overall, I am still settling into my life here in Lithuania, the daily differences mixing with astounding similarities and interesting novelties. I know that the next 99 days will be both wonderful and challenging, and I cannot wait to see what relationships, life lessons, and self-growth the rest of the semester will bring!