Don’t Tremble – Karissa from John Brown

When I told people that I was going to study in Lithuania, their first reaction was: “Now, where is that exactly?” (on the Baltic Sea, near Russia).  I also got a lot of “What language do they speak there?” (Lithuanian) and “Do they have internet?” (the fastest in the world).  Apparently, Americans don’t have a plethora of knowledge about this little Baltic state, and most likely everyone was wondering “Why in the world did that girl not pick Australia?!”  I often wonder this myself, actually; in fact, I wonder it nearly every time I step outside into the cold.  However, although I have had some difficulties along the way, I’ve never regreted choosing Lithuania. 

The town of Klaipėda where I live is absolutely beautiful.  I will never get tired of the baroque style buildings with their pastel colors and red clay rooftops.  I love the farmer’s market where I get fresh honey and where apples are a steal.  I love that the sea is a 30 minute walk away, and I love the sailboat I see docked on the river every time I cross the Old Town bridge.  

Aside from that, living here has been an adjustment for me.  People act differently.  It has been hard to get to know people here on campus (LCC International University).  More and more I have been appreciating the friendliness of American culture.  It is something I have definitely taken for granted.  I find myself not really knowing how to act here, even in simple situations, like ordering at a restaurant.  Not to mention that everything is in Lithuanian.  Nevertheless, armed with my translation app and my 3 weeks of Intro to Lithuanian knowledge I have been able to get by so far.  You cannot imagine how overwhelming it is to walk into a grocery store and not know the difference between milk and sour cream. Things that used to be so easy before have suddenly become very difficult.  Why don’t people ever smile at you walking on the street?  Why is my coffee the size of a dixie cup, and why can’t I wear a t-shirt and jeans to class without looking like a slob compared to everyone else?  

Things go wrong all the time, like buying tomato paste instead of marinara sauce and getting my scarf stolen by a random man on the street.  But I am learning, more and more, that my life will always be like that.  I am going to miss people who are far away, I will always wonder about my future, and I will ruin my beet soup.  But sometimes, sometimes things will go okay.  I will have amazing opportunities to share the gospel, I will make unexpected lifelong friends, and I will successfully buy that Lithuanian pastry without needing English.  

And when things do go wrong, I find myself thinking of the song “(Don’t) Tremble” by The Low Anthem, where the chorus goes:

If your hand should lose its grip
Do not tremble, do not sweat
For where then would you get
Where then would you get 

I realized it’s no use getting upset.  It’s better to just relax and go along with whatever life brings you.  Looking back, these catastrophic problems now, will not seem so big, and I may even find that I have grown from them.  Life is a huge adventure, and I am not going to miss it.

And I’ll try to remember this next time I get off at the wrong bus stop, and have to sprint 2 blocks to my teaching practicum.
Do not tremble. Do not sweat.

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