“Ar jus kalbate angliškai?”, I said to the woman at the meat counter in Iki today. This simple phrase, meaning “Do you speak English?” was the first time I dared utter the Lithuanian language in public, aside from the occasional “ačiū” (“thank you”) or “atsiprašau” (“excuse me”). My hands trembled as I spoke, but I managed to get the four words out of my mouth without stumbling over the foreign pronunciation.
And thankfully, her answer to my question was “taip” (“yes”).
I decided to make chicken fajitas tonight as a little reminder of home. It was also the first time I’ve gone to the grocery store and felt successful coming out. I was able to find tortillas, spices, chicken, fresh veggies and olive oil all without meandering about the store in a hopeless daze. And then I was able to come home and cook it all for myself and some friends, without calling my dad for help.
I’m taking this small victory very seriously. It is a sign that things are starting to fall together, despite all the differences I’m still spotting on a daily basis. I am finding my place here in Lithuania, and each day I find myself less tense and more at “home”.
I am beginning to appreciate things about Lithuania, and I’ve compiled a short list below:
- People stop for you when you are waiting at a crosswalk.
- I never feel strange walking on the sidewalk because a plethora of people walk in Klaipėda.
- The assortment of fresh bandelės (buns) is never-ending.
- I don’t feel obligated to smile at or say hello to complete strangers.
- Public transportation is simple and efficient.
- Nobody takes medicine- the cure for everything is tea instead of pills
It’s a short list for now, but I’ve only been here for 2 weeks. I know that as the semester progresses, I will find more things to love and appreciate about this country and its culture. For now, I will choose to appreciate each of these things on a daily basis and keep my eyes peeled for more wonderful things.
Today was a success, because I stepped out of my comfort zone and spoke a language I am terrible at. The result got me two chicken breasts which turned into a reminder of home and a dinner with friends. I’ll take that chance any time from now on.