Saturday, July 1, 2017

My Impression of Lithuania

Whenever I meet Lithuanians who discover I have lived in Vilnius for almost a year (wow, has it really been 11 months?!), inevitably they ask how I like living here. I always reply, "I LOVE it!" And they always react with a shocked, "Really?"

I get the sense that Lithuanians don't appreciate what they have accomplished since breaking away from the Soviet Union in 1991. They have a "younger sibling" syndrome with their Baltic neighbors, seemingly living in the shadow of Latvia and Estonia.

I wish Lithuanians could see their country the way I see it. Sure there are challenges, but Lithuania has so much going for it. Vilnius is a wonderful place to live. I love the charming blend of old and new that can be seen in every inch of Old Town. There is a creative energy here you can see in the number of art galleries around town and even in the graffiti. There is an abundance of talent in the arts, sciences, and, of course, sports.

I've heard people - including Lithuanians - describe the national personality as "reserved." I haven't really noticed that. My encounters with taxi drivers, waitresses, store cashiers have all been very pleasant. People are so forgiving when I speak their language badly and so happy that I tried. Looking at Lithuania as an outsider, I would describe the national personality as "content."

So, Lithuania, you have impressed me greatly, and I am not easily impressed. I have visited and lived in nearly 40 countries and in my mind, Vilnius ranks in the top as a wonderful city to live in. Yes, you are a small country, but that can be an advantage. You have a lot to be proud of.

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