Interview with a Czech in Lithuania: Alžběta
Hey everyone! Welcome back to Into the Forests I Go, my little blog examining life in Lithuania as someone from, well, very far away. A couple of weeks ago, I started a series where I interview other friendly faces in Lithuania, and Adelaide from Texas was my first guest on the topic.
This week, I'm continuing my journey with Alžběta, someone I only recently met in December - and I thought she'd make an interesting subject since she just picked up her cats and moved here from the Czech Republic. How did Alžběta and I meet? At a Girl Gone International Christmas Party down at Baltas Ūsas. I'll set the scene:
I'd just arrived and placed myself squarely into a random seat, praying to the Friend Dating gods that I wouldn't have to suffer through innocuous - but mentally taxing - small talk. After all, as much as I appreciate getting out of my comfort zone, friend dating takes effort.
After a few minutes, Alžběta showed up and mentioned that not only was this her first GGI event, but that she'd just moved to Lithuania. Well, that sealed in my conversation - and curiosity - for the rest of the night, and I walked out with a new friend. I interviewed her a couple of days ago while waiting for our Vietnamese food to arrive at Saigon Kava. (What, y'all don't go up to Šiauliai just for Vietnamese food? GET IN LINE - this place is worth the drive!) So, everyone, give a warm welcome to Alžběta and her two cats! I, for one, am glad she's here.
1. Hi, Alžběta! What prompted your move to Lithuania? Were you excited? Nervous?
I got a job offer, so that was my first impulse, my first reason. I was so nervous - I was really certain that this was something I wanted to do, moving to a different country and trying to live somewhere else - but also, it all happened so fast. I was really nervous about searching for an apartment, for example, because I have two cats, and even if people do allow pets here, it’s usually for dogs. So, I only found my apartment a week before I was supposed to move, but in the end, it worked out.
2. Since you just got here and we met through GGI, do you feel like Girl Gone International has helped you to meet new people, or has any other method worked better for you?
Yeah, the GGI group is so awesome. It’s my one connection with the world right now! And I use it for other things too, beyond meeting people, like the Latin dancing class someone posted about. It’s been really helpful for me!
3. How are you handling the gray weather right now? What are you doing to make it through?
It’s definitely a struggle, but I take my Vitamin D supplements, and I feel like they’re helping a little bit. Also, I try to work out or at least move my body - even just little things, like taking the garbage out. But at least it’s something, because I work mostly from home. So, moving is really important.
4. Do you feel like Lithuanians have a deeper connection with nature? Have you noticed that yet in your time here?
Mmm, not so much, I have to say. I haven’t been outside the city too much. For me, most of my colleagues like to go hiking sometimes, but this isn’t a part of Lithuania that I’ve discovered yet. [Editor’s Note: Ooooh, sounds like I’ve got some events and forests to take her to!]
5. You've only been here since November, but what are you noticing about the city and yourself?
The first thing I noticed in the city is that the buildings are kind of… busted. So, that’s something that really stood out to me. In the city center especially, I feel like it would be really nice if the buildings were fixed. I think that would really help the city visually. [Editor’s Note: Hard agree!] But on the other hand, that’s a thing in some parts of Prague, where I’m from. And I do feel very safe here.
As for the people here, I have to say that everyone has been super nice to me. For instance, my landlady picked me up from the airport when I arrived and drove me home, even with my cats. So she was really amazing, and if I have any questions about the city, she’s always ready to help me. She’s really nice, so I feel really lucky that I have support from my landlord - and also my colleagues are really nice. They ask a lot of questions about me, about the Czech Republic, and it means a lot. It’s really welcoming.
And as for myself, I really felt like moving here was a new start for me. It’s a big move, a big change. So it’s going slowly, but I’m getting there. I still can’t believe I did this! I went to see the Vilnius Light Festival this week, and I was walking through the city thinking, “I’m in a different country! This isn’t Czech Republic - where am I!?”
[Editor’s Note: I really relate to this. At this same Light Festival, a year and a half into my life here, I said the same thing to The Scientist. I’m certain I sound like a broken record to my side-eyeing husband, who shouldn’t be surprised. He sees the world through a deeper shade of rose-colored glasses than I do! Even as I’ve gotten into a groove, I continue to have new, surreal experiences! Or maybe I’m just a human version of Dory from Finding Nemo who notices the beauty in life.]
6. Alright, here’s a good one. What's your favorite Lithuanian food, drink, or snack?
I tried cepelinai, and also Chicken Kyiv. It’s so good! I was pleasantly surprised. [Editor’s Note: Oh my God, I loooove Chicken Kyiv with mashed potatoes! And my favorite style of cepelinai, since y'all asked, is the vegetarian variety with varškė, or curd cheese. If you're visiting Vilnius, I'd recommend trying that dish here.]
7. What brings you joy in life?
That’s such a nice question. I’m a really creative person, so I like embroidery and painting. Creating something is the most important thing for me, just knowing that I’m doing something with my time; through it, I can see how my mood changes, how I evolve through the art that I create. So, this really is something that I’m happy to come back to, because for the longest time, I didn’t do too much art because it felt hard. So it’s really nice to rediscover myself here in Lithuania.
And we're back! As you can see from my notes, Alžběta and I agree on quite a few things, despite my having been here for a bit longer. And placing her right next to Adelaide, I can clearly see that we're all just walking each other home (or to the nearest bus stop), checking to see how each other is handling the gray weather. I'm curious to see what she thinks about this country in four months, in a year - especially after she experiences a Lithuanian, ahem, "summer." (It's short, but we make it work, people!) Wishing you the warmest welcome, Alžběta. :)
As per usual, feel free to subscribe at the bottom of this page to receive a bi-weekly email from me on whatever's on my heart that day! And as always, I'll see you next time here at Into the Forests I Go - iki pasimatymo - see you soon!