500 words a day

I hoped I could have updated my blog a bit more lately, but besides me writing my thesis, not much is going on here. In the last two weeks I finished two jars of peanut butter, I visited four museums, ended up having a look at a climbing hall with some Lithuanian teens and I’ve been eating pretty much the same dish every day, consisting of pasta, chicken, unions, paprika, jalapenos and some exotic but in Scandinavia-made spices with a fair hint of thick Lithuanian sour cream. I also discovered that from the inside I might be quite a good person. Yesterday the fire alarm went off in the dormitory and when I noticed the third floor was covered in smoke the first thing I did was running back up to the fifth floor in order to get my roommate Yi. Luckily nothing bad happened. The reception guy who still thinks I’m Swedish told me it had to do something with the stoves in the kitchen which were all turned on. Something somehow went wrong there. It is always fascinating how people do not take fire alarms serious and how incredibly long it takes before people head down stairs. Almost kind of imaginable when a false alarm often occurs, but still. The first thing I did afterwards was checking my emergency route in case I’d once need it. There is a tree standing straight next to my window so that would surely brake one’s fall. Let’s hope nobody ever needs this escape route though.
 At the museum of Lithuanian literature for children
So, in the end some things did happen, but what I actually wanted to write about is my thesis writing rule. I only have one. At the moment I can’t tell yet if it’s really effective, but the results after the first two weeks look promising. Normally I don’t face any problems to write long blog posts, e-mails or what so ever, but thesis writing is something else. Academic writing is just not that much my cup of tea. It’s really difficult not to put some jokes inside my texts and to keep personal little side notes away from all this serious looking stuff. My rule thus became: 500 words a day keeps the thesis stress away. With 500 words and one-and-a-half line spacing you fill up just a little more than one page. This seems like a piece of cake, ‘just’ a page a day. Yet, it’s not as easy as it might look like. Imagine how much literature you have to go through before you can actually write something useful… So, besides the writing there is a fair portion of reading involved as well. I started off my thesis process with two weeks of non-stop browsing for useful articles and books. When I got a clearer idea on which works would be most important for my research I implemented my rule. This blue paper is a reminder hanging straight above my desk. At the thirteenth I had a long chat with my supervisor about my thesis structure, but then, ever since I managed to cross off my daily 500 words quota. 
The rule, THE flag of THE ice skating nation of the world, some Finnish illustrations, my red envelope from the Chinese New Year celebration and an old postcard depicting Kaunas.
My thesis has to be in between 50 and 70 pages long, so if I manage to continue like this I’ll hopefully not get into trouble the last few days before the deadline. Let’s see if I’ll still be as enthusiastic about it all after the evaluation about my theoretical framework. One thing is for sure, this thesis writing didn’t make me so much more willing to finish my educational career with a PhD. Not now. Maybe later. Or not. Another conclusion of this week: Dutch peanut butter is way more tasty than Polish peanut butter.
(See, way over 500 words in the few minutes I spent to write this blog post; wish it would go that fast with my thesis!)

Perfect bike weather for the non-Finn from Olandija

Yesterday I reported on lindanieuws.nl/wereldwijven that the extreme cold in northern neighbor Latvia caused 150 cases of frostbites and hypothermia during the January month. Well, we certainly had our share of coldness as well, but that seemed to have stopped for a couple of days. Temperatures rose above zero and even though some fishermen still risks their lives on thin ice, the rivers pretty much fully flow through Lithuania’s landscape again. I’ve been a little ill these days but after having eaten  a full jar of honey I noticed staying in bed would only make me feel more miserable. So, time for some fresh air! I decided to take my dusty old bike with me in order to fill up its tires. It had been standing around here during the time I was in Estonia and when I came back it was surprisingly still standing at the very same place, minus some tire air. I went to the gas station because my tires are equipped with car valves. I was struggling around a bit and eventually asked one man for help. He wore a very tidy suit and totally didn’t look like filling up a Dutchman’s bike tires, but still he did, which was very kind. He was a bit surprised why on earth I would be interested in riding my bike in this weather (hardly any snow on the streets and +4 degrees Celsius). I told him I’m from the Netherlands and that it’s absolutely normal for me to drive around on my bike in these weather conditions. “Ahaa, in that way, I guessed you were from Finland actually!”, he said. Was this a hidden Finnish stereotype? The crazy Finn riding its bike when the weather isn’t cycling-in-Lithuania-proof? Oh well. I’m at least very thankful I got some assistance. Afterwards with a huge smile decorating my face I drove around though Kaunas. Nobody normally ever cares about bikers on bike lanes and especially not now when you more seldom than usual can spot a cyclist. I drove over the oh so nicely designed bike lane at Freedom Street. Normally it’s quite dangerous, since nobody ever watches back when crossing the lane. It only took me two ‘oh come oooooon’-s during my entire ride now. Good score. 

 My Kregzdute, made in the USSR

Insecurities of an almost graduate

Looking back at the past few years I’ve been through many fantastic changes. I conquered the Baltics in my very own way, changing my place of residence almost every half a year. It has been an educative and fruitful time which definitely shaped my personality. I didn’t plan the whole adventure in advance, nevertheless, I always tried to have things to look forward to. It usually worked out to settle my plans half a year before starting them, which for me felt like a comfortable time span. Yet, in planning what to do in half a year from now I stumble upon a big fat question mark. With a little effort I should definitely manage to finalize my master degree successfully upcoming summer. But, what’s next?
I have no idea where to go. There is no single city where the majority of my friends are, since they’re scattered around the globe. That brings me to another uncomfortable issue. All of my best friends have been participating in exchange programs and many of them suffered from post-Erasmus depressions. Well, depression is maybe a big word, but at least they felt a certain degree of unease a few weeks till a few months after their return. The ones telling me about their blue feelings have in general been away for a semester or two only. I’ve been away since 2009. I’m extremely curious if this notorious feeling among exchange students will also struck me. Or, can I maybe procrastinate the start of serious adulthood a little by keep on living abroad for a while?
It might be a little early, but besides writing my thesis I’ve been searching for job opportunities already a bit lately. That doesn’t particularly make me happy. I didn’t come across any suitable journalism placements. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong places. Do I want to go back to my home town Emmen? Small chance there will be a challenging job in which I can carry out my interest for creative writing and even get paid a decent salary for it. Should I go to Amsterdam and try my luck there? Hm… Not sure about that. I’d rather go to Iceland. Or Finland. Or Norway. Even if it would just be for a year or two, to gain some work experience but still to have this excitement of being abroad. But, working abroad within the field of journalism and communication without knowledge of the local language; hard one.
During potential job searches many close to silly thoughts came up in my mind. Why am I not joining a short study program at a practical school and become a technician? Why am I not travelling around the globe performing as a professional tap dancer (ha, if only I could!). Why am I not going to change my life completely and work on a farm in Iceland for a while? Too many weird questions. No answers. I think I saw the light this week (I actually did, because it was nicely sunny). I realized there’s no point in looking for jobs at the moment. I’ll just wait and see, later. For now I just have to try to make the best out of my thesis and to enjoy my days in Lithuania to the fullest. It’s nice to be here actually, very nice. 
Kaunas, January 2014