The original article, with the full text below.
Hello! My name is Nienke Bos and I’m a 24-year old student being passionate about hot air balloons and exploring the Baltics. Studying in Lithuania was a logical follow-up of my previous study adventures. I fulfilled an internship in Estonia and my Erasmus exchange and yet another internship in Latvia. Of course I couldn’t let dear Lithuania behind. In 2012 I started my full time Master degree in Journalism and Media Analysis at Vytautas Magnus University. Many youngsters from my home country the Netherlands would rather decide to head to France and Spain in order to ‘study’ there. Well, we all know what that means, don’t we? The stereotype foreign student being more active in studying beer brands than actual academic journals, furthermore accompanied by the sun, see and beach.
I’m surely a victim of modern times, driven by the need to be different and stand out from the crowd. The fact that many Dutchmen regularly ask me how my studies in Russia, Iceland or even Lapland are progressing determines I succeeded in my wish to be rather different. People have no idea where I’m located and are shocked when I tell them Lithuania is an EU-member state since 2004 already. Such a pity, because even though it might sound cliché, Lithuania definitely conquered a place in my heart. It’s a pleasant country to live in. The quality of education is wonderful, the dormitory is besides small and simplistic actually very cozy and walking around through Kaunas feels safe. The only thing that I as a Dutchman could wish for is to buy Gouda or Olandu suris which is actually made in the Netherlands instead of Poland and to see more tolerance towards cyclists by pedestrians and car drivers.
I discovered that under a layer of general pessimism and on first hand non smiling faces, there is a majority of warm hearted people sharing honest laughter. The Lithuanians I met are incredibly curious, generous and welcoming. I’m always amused by their self-spot when it comes to their excessive potato consumption. Some however, and then especially the ones not being able to speak English, can be confronting clear about their mood though. It happened more than once people annoyingly sighed when I entered pubic instances, showing I’m a foreigner in need of help by sending out a friendly hello and a smile. Apparently not only Dutch people are that straight forward. Maybe my ‘labas’, ‘aciu’ and ‘gerai’ knowledge is just not sufficient enough to please those ones, so I’ll take the blame for that.
Moving to the Baltic countries was furthermore a true historical eye opener. During my childhood in the Netherlands the history books were filled with German sided stories. The painful Russian impact on the Baltics only became crystal clear during my stay here. The traces of the still fresh past give Lithuania an attractive raw edge though, noticeable within architecture, but to be honest also in bureaucracy. Yet, Lithuania’s drive to be itself, independent and unique shines over all this Vytautas-minded land. Yes, it seems I have something in common with my dear friend, Lithuania.