‘You’ll never see me agaaaaaaain’

It was a busy but fun week in Kaunas! Jun and I started working on our documentary ‘Dreams for Lithuania’. Since Lithuanians are pure pessimists we decided to hunt for positive stories on hopes and expectations for Lithuania’s future. Yesterday we conducted our first interview with 16 year-old Gabriele. She is such a sweetheart and besides that she has a great voice. She even plays the guitar too. We had an awesome time interviewing here accompanied by the first sunrays of Spring. When shooting some nice material of Gabriele while she was singing at Laisves street an old lady appeared in front of the screen. On first hand she acted normal but suddenly she set her face to retard-mode. It was a very convincing role she played there. We had no idea what she wanted and she also had no idea about our English sentences on this awkward situation. Gabriele helped us to translate and all the woman wanted was to play a little prank on us, foreigners. Hmm.
This morning Jun and I set off to the ninth fort museum a few kilometers away from Kaunas’ city center. The internet advised us to take bus 35, and so we did. After 15 minutes we came across more and more countryside-like places. Both Jun and I had been to the museum already, but neither of us recognized this route. When we showed the bus driver a little paper stating ‘9-ojo forto muziejus’ he desperately started shaking his head. Not such a surprise. So, there we were, in a bus taking us only further away from our desired destination. Well, at least we saw some authentic Lithuanian suburbs, but I’m not so sure if that made us so intensely happy. We joined the driver of bus 35 till his end stop and then wanted to wait to return to our point of departure where we could take another bus. Apparently this bus drives a complete different route during the weekend. Jun wouldn’t be Jun if he wouldn’t arrange a little adventure for us. Since we anyways had to wait a few minutes before the bus continued its way back, he got out and asked the first random car driver he came across for a ride to the ninth fort. Guess what? 

Ten seconds later we were both sitting in a fast Audi with a young guy (beginning of his thirties) who could only say ‘problem, no speak English’. He somehow did understand what our final destination was. On the one hand I was overwhelmed by the friendliness of this guy. It was really kind of him to give us a ride. On the other hand I remembered all the wise words from my early childhood, ‘Nienke, never join strangers’. Sometimes you just have to trust in mankind. Good that everything went so fast so I had no time to hesitate about my decision to join. The trusting heart thought a little faster than the suspicious mind. After 15 minutes we passed a large area of forests. Hindsight Jun and I thought the same at that moment. ‘What if he’s going to bring us to an abandoned industrial area, rob us and do all kind of other bad things to us?’. Jun got out the little ‘9-ojo forto muziejus’ paper once again to make sure we were really heading for that place. Meanwhile we saw road signs to Vilnius and Warsaw… The radio was turned on and during our fast trip – he for sure knew how to hit the pedal to the metal – we were listening to cheesy 90s and some more modern clubbing tracks. Right at the moment when I started to worry if it was a good decision to join this stranger I heard ‘You’ll never see me agaaaaaaain’ on the radio. Oh no, was that a sign? Luckily everything turned out to be all fine. There it was, the museum. The sun was shining bright and the guy, who didn’t accept our money, wished us a happy day in bad English and left. Wow. So there are still helpful, good people on this world. What an exciting way to start the day. 

At the fort we conducted a very nice interview with Rolandas, a VMU student as well as a museum guide. He stated that Jun and I are the perfect promotion tools for obtaining a Master in journalism since we have so many fun (and practical) assignments to do. True! There is indeed a lot of variation to be found during this semester and working with the camera is definitely one of the most inspiring things to do.

Accepted! Exchange at Tallinn University Sept ’13 – Jan ’14

Good news! A few weeks ago I applied for a so called Bilateral Agreement Exchange and today I was pleased with the message I’m accepted at Tallinna Ülikool (Talinn University)! This means that from September 2013 till January 2014 I will attend classes in Estonia’s capital. I’m very much looking forward to this and I’m extremely thankful that Vytautas Magnus University supports me in fulfilling my Baltic project. After completion of this exchange I can state I’ve been living in Estonia for one year, in Latvia for one and a half years and in Lithuania for one year. Perfect, that was what I was aiming for! I can’t wait to stroll around Tallinn and discover this most Northern Baltic pearl a little better than I already did before during my touristy trips and the business visits during my internship at the Institute of Baltic Studies (in Tartu). Oh, and Finland is just a two-hour ferry ride away, I have to make use of that too! 
On my way to university today Jun said that my Baltic project is something for life. It’s my own thing which determined the way I am now to a great extent. He said that the years of my early twenties are the most important one’s in my life. I agreed, but then again, who says nothing else will cross my path? Maybe an even bigger adventure?! Future will tell. I’m at least very proud of myself that I dared to keep on extending my time in the Baltics. Many people dream about long foreign travels and often those thoughts just stay pleasant daydreams. I did it, and I’m still doing it. It’s not always easy, but the difficult moments are overshadowed by precious memories, valuable friendships and self respect.  

Very addictive, travelling from one Baltic country to another. Now it’s time for Estonia once again!

Spring in Kaunas

It’s still freshly in my mind, hordes of foreign students proclaiming ‘Spring is almost there, I feel it!’ during the beginning of February. Well, no. It’s the fifth of April now and when I opened my curtains this morning I was confronted with a few fresh centimeters of snow once again. Let’s enjoy it before everybody starts to complain about the hot sweaty weather in a few weeks ;-).