Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What is normal - and where do I find it? - Deb from Roberts Wesleyan

This past week has been filled with mixed emotions. Final projects are getting assigned, final trips are being planned, and I'm beginning to think about packing to go home. The semester is coming to a close! As excited as I am to come home to people I love and a country I'm familiar with, a part of me is sad to be leaving Lithuania. I've made amazing friends and have had the chance to visit so many different countries along the way.

There are certain things about Lithuania that I've grown accustomed to, and it's going to be difficult to go back home and not have these things. For example, tea time with roommates is something I've grown to love. I've gotten used to walking down the cobblestone streets of Old Town, eating kepta duona (cheese bread) and bandelės su curd (rolls with sweet cheese inside), and spending time with friends who speak different languages. It's really strange now to overhear people speaking English, because I'm so used to hearing Russian. I've actually forgotten a lot of English words just from lack of using them! I've gotten used to dressing up for class (no T-shirts here!), and to walking EVERYWHERE.  On the street, I walk past people without saying "hi" or smiling and I only ask someone how they are if I have time to listen to how they really are.  In the grocery store, I stand uncomfortably close to people in line without feeling uncomfortable, and get annoyed if there is too much space between other people in line. I bring my own bag and bag my own groceries. 

All of this has come to feel "normal" now. I actually don't really know what normal is anymore- it's different in every country!  Being in this part of the world has helped me learn so much about history and culture. Seeing things like Soviet prisons and Nazi war uniforms has suddenly made things interesting that I had zero interest in before. You can read about it in a history book all you want, or even go to a museum in the States, but it will never have the same effect as standing in an actual KGB prison cell. We watched footage of an actual prisoner being killed in the very room we were standing in. And this happened just a few years before I was born! It was unbelievable and not something I ever want to see again, but it really put things in perspective. A year ago, I didn't know Lithuania was even a country...it's safe to say my knowledge of geography has gotten just a little bit better. In addition, this semester has redefined my definition of "traveling light" and changed my opinion of what is a "good" place to sleep (McDonalds in Germany, anyone?).  I've learned how to be flexible, and I've learned to appreciate different languages instead of getting annoyed that people don't speak English.  It's been a crazy, but amazing couple of months here in Europe! That said, I can't wait to be home.  My ETA is three weeks from tomorrow! Time really does fly when you're having fun :) 

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