Kaunas. Day 1.

My first day in Kaunas. Goodbye civilization! I had the idea I traveled back in time when entering my new ‘home’. It will for sure take a while before I’d really consider this place as a true comfortable home. It took some effort to explain the receptionist that I wanted to sign in, get my keys and explore my new room. I was quite in need of that after a 6 hour bus trip and a huge load of luggage to carry with me on a rainy day. Quite fascinating how these kind of Baltic reception people never really seem to speak English, especially not with around 150 excited foreign students around (yeah, stereotype, I know). Anyways, eventually I was told where to find my new room. A girl from Estonia was so kind to help me with my luggage. In Lithuania it’s common to share a very small room with one or two other persons, so I was curious to find out who that would be for me. A Danish girl! What a luck. Very calm, friendly and funny. That was the positive side of my arrival. Then it went downwards. Internet? No. Hot water? No. Bed sheets? No. Try to arrange that on Lithuania’s holy Sunday! Not too much in the mood for it I went down to the receptionist again. ‘Blanket, what is blanket? Bed sheet? Pillow? What you need?’. So, I first had to perform a little stage play showing where I need these items for. ‘No, not today, tomorrow’. No warm cozy night for Nienke! The water stayed cold the rest of the day. Half of the power plugs is dead. Oh, and I’m also not allowed to get a key to the front door. ‘Sorry, you’re not in the system, come back tomorrow’. But, one little positive thing. The student in charge of the internet managed to fix a nice connection from my laptop to the world wide web. No wifi, of course, just with an old fashioned white cable. Welcome to Lithuania!

Goodbye Riga

So.. that was it. After a lovely summer holiday my stay in Riga now finally has come to an end. I absolutely enjoyed living in the very heart of Latvia’s capital, but now it’s time to move on. I’m ready to fulfill my Baltic project. After having lived in Estonia and Latvia I packed my bags and headed southwards. Lithuania it is! I’m quite excited about the upcoming time. It has been a while that I was a fulltime student so I’m curious how difficult it will be to get used to the rhythm of university again. Luckily the first contacts with the Lithuanians from Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas are very positive. I feel very much supported so hopefully the first ‘start up weeks’ won’t be too much of a problem. I’ll keep you up to date!  
 Goodbye mysterious Latvian backyard…

Midsummer Night Magic. A picture special.

I came across some pictures lately which are probably worth sharing. I spent some weeks in Finland this summer and during midsummer eve I joined my guest mom to her summer cottage for a couple of days. What a lovely time we had, even though we were far away from civilized world. The white nights in Finland have a certain magic. You should just be there once in order to understand. After a visit to the traditional bonfire, a sauna session and a fair amount of alcohol it was time to go to bed. Or… almost. Since there was nothing bathroom-like available at the cottage I was brushing my teeth in the middle of the forest. I couldn’t stop myself from getting my camera afterwards since this was my view:
This is probably the best view I’ve ever had during my tooth brushing ceremony! It was so peaceful. I guess I never brushed my teeth for such a long time.
The light was so spectacular during this evening. I took the above picture between 0.00 and 01.00 o’clock! There was hardly any wind as you can see on the water.

A little hint from the sun is still visible here. Two ‘kuikka’ (as the gavia arctica is called in Finnish) were still awake as well, shouting out some spectacular sounds which almost reminded me on the gibbons in Emmen Zoo. Except this was more like a ‘kooooiika, koooooiika’ kind of noise. Very impressive, especially because of the echo that followed.
Again a picture taken after midnight. I couldn’t get enough of this fantastic view. Finland rocks!

Riga Stradins University promo movie (with Nienke!)

The end of March I joined the camera guys of the Vides Filmu Studija in Riga. Their task was to make a promotion video for future Erasmus students coming over to Riga. Since I never really managed to leave Riga after my own Erasmus exchange program in 2009 I was asked to share my experiences in front of the camera. If you’re curious and want to check out the 3.43 minute video yourself I invite you to have a look here: http://vimeo.com/46967368