Sunday, January 6, 2013

Maybe I should become a show host

Just a little update about the last month of my first semester in Kaunas. When looking back at all the pictures I noticed I've been doing quite some presentations lately. I personally absolutely dislike presentations read off from a little (or complete A4) paper or a powerpoint overflowed with boring long sentences. Therefore, I always try to give my presentations a spontaneous twist with some improvised elements but without prepared lines filled with difficult words looked up in a dictionary. Hm, I remember presenting the weekly class performances at primary school. I felt comfortable on stage and even though in real life I could be quite shy, with a microphone in my hand it all disappeared. Well, let me just bring you through a description of my last speeches about pictures, student affairs in Kaunas, The Netherlands and prospective international students in Lithuania.

On International Student Day Vytautas Magnus University organized an evening for international students in Kaunas wanting to show their talents. I was amazed by the diversity of performances, from ballet and Azerbaijan dances to singing and knitting. I gave a short summary of the best pictures I took during my first weeks in Kaunas, accompanied by some photography tips. I can't preach often enough how terrible it is to have an almost perfect picture but with the feet cut off while there is an enormous amount of unused space above one's head, aargh!!

Besides International Student Day it was also ordinary nationality-doesn't-matter Student Day. I was asked to represent all of VMU's international students at a conference held in Kaunas' City Hall. The gathering emphasized problems that students face in Kaunas and how the municipality can play a role in improving the city's student-friendliness. The whole meeting was held in Lithuanian, however, a friendly young lady was appointed to be my interpreter. Since I was not completely sure on forehand about what the conference would be I decided to take the risk and improvise my entire speech. I used the topics mentioned by Lithuanian students about important facets for students (green environment, night life, libraries) and the problems they encountered with Lithuanian public transport. I noticed once again that Lithuanians appreciate comparisons between Latvians and them, especially in their favor. Also they were quite surprised by my critic on the danger of cycling in Kaunas. Wish the city could be more Dutch in that aspect. But hey, I'm right, it is life endangering. 

The Erasmus Student Network in Kaunas is known for organizing weekly Cultural Nights starring the international students proudly representing their country. The aim of these relaxed but educating evenings are to introduce students to other cultures, customs and, very important (concerning the fact that every calm student becomes a wild animal when it's served) food. The representatives of every country are asked to prepare a short presentation and some traditional dishes, snacks or drinks. Since I'm the only student from the Netherlands I had to do the presentation by myself. However, later that evening also the students from Belgium, Georgia and Sweden enriched us with their beer and waffle fascination, birth place of Stalin and Midsummer traditions.

After a long day at Uni students are not too eager to concentrate on a presentation with facts soon to be forgotten. Therefore my presentation consisted almost only of visual material, both pictures and movies. I showed them a video containing Dutch stereotypes as well as some of my own movies shot for Amsterdam In Your Pocket about the red light district and fatty snacks which in the Netherlands you can just buy out of a wall, really. Ohja, I did write down the word 'geslachtsgemeenschap' (proper way to say: having intercourse). It was not so much about the content of this long word, but rather about the cat-with-hairball sounding pronunciation. To satisfy the boys I also wrote down some names of famous Dutch soccer players, causing frowned eyebrows on how actually to say 'Kuijt'. I stated once again that not the whole country looks like Amsterdam and that not the whole Dutch population is smoking weed all the time. Then it was time for liquorice and 'speculaas' cookies. Till 01.00 the loudspeakers entertained us with the Vengaboys, 2Unlimited and Frans Bauer too.

And then the unexpected presentations during my trip to Drunkininkai. I won't be decribing that here since my extensive blog post published November 26th, 2012 tells you all about it. Let's see what kind of performances the next semester in Lithuania will offer!

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