Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Is this the honeymoon phase talking? (don't worry mom, it's not about marriage)

I like Lithuania! Here. I said it. This actually came as a slight surprise to me. The idea to complete my study career in Lithuania was already present in my mind for a long time. During my stay in Estonia and Latvia I’ve been talking a lot about it, with locals as well as foreigners. It hardly ever happened that someone reacted with a ‘wow, that’s a great idea, nice!’. I usually got surprised faces in return. ‘Why on earth would you want to study in Lithuania?’. In my eyes it would be a nice follow up after Estonia and Latvia, but still, the reactions of others made me hesitate about my plans. ‘Enjoy civilization before you move to Lithuania!’. Would it really be that bad?

Up till now I must admit I just love this country. Of course it’s not perfect and I often refer back to matters which are arranged in a better or let’s say different way in the Netherlands, but hey, they’re on the right track. It’s a pleasant country to live in and moreover the people are just awesome. In comparison with Estonians and Latvians the Lithuanians seem so much more open, helpful, curious, warm hearted, welcoming and friendly. They smile, make jokes, talk to you without even knowing you (in the supermarket, on the street, really!). I love this. Of course I’m generalizing now, but still, I absolutely didn’t expect this.

After a short bike ride in the sun on my USSR produced green speed devil I started to think over my happiness. Is this real? This is a piece from one of my blog posts from December 2010 after I’ve lived in Latvia for some months:

“When moving to another country you go through different phases. It starts with the honeymoon phase, when the new culture is experienced full of joy and excitement. However, soon the negotiation phase starts to play a bigger role. The differences between the home and host country become more and more visible, often with a slight negative undertone. Loneliness and homesickness play a big role during this phase. Even though there are quite some cultural differences between the Netherlands and Latvia, I almost never really disliked to be part of this new culture. With some healthy optimism and an attitude of not taking everything too serious a lot of negative feelings towards the host country can be avoided. Since I live in Latvia for quite a while now it might be easy to say this, even though I also had my start-up problems in the very beginning. I think I can say that I definitely reached the adjustment phase right now. I'm used to Latvia's culture and I'm not annoyed anymore by typical Latvian things like grumpy faces or the enormous inefficiency in this country….”

In which stage am I now? I cherish so many positive feelings towards Lithuania that I almost suspect it to be a part of the honeymoon phase. Time will tell if I, after having lived in the Baltics for such a long time, started from scratch in the honeymoon phase again or if I’ve maybe reached a higher stage. I’ll come back to this topic as soon as I’ve found out :) 

(This was blog post number 200!)