I’d like to share with you all about some of the cultural differences that I’ve noticed while being here in Lithuania. I previously mentioned that I’m from California. Westmont College is located in Santa Barbara, a wonderful beach town in which you are never more than three miles away from the ocean.
Lithuania is very different from California (even though Klaipéda is a beach city also) in large part due to the climate differences. In Santa Barbara, the weather is almost always nice. I remember times during my freshman year where I was going to the beach in the middle of December to enjoy the warm sun. Several people do not wear any shoes in Santa Barbara (except for inside of course). Around school, it is perfectly acceptable (and in many ways, encouraged) for people to walk around bare foot. This includes inside shopping malls, in the greater downtown area, around the school’s campus, inside classrooms, and of course at the beach. In Lithuania, most people wear shoes all of the time (even inside). My roommates all give me strange looks when I walk around the kitchen barefooted. One of them once asked me “Where have you lost your shoes?”. I was caught off guard, and explained to him that in the culture that I come from, not wearing shoes inside your living space is a pretty normal thing to do. I’m still not sure that he understands what I meant, but he dropped the conversation after that.
Video about Georgian culture:
Another thing that I have noticed here is that people tend to dress up a lot. Nice scarves, collared shirts, dresses, and sport-coats are the norm around the campus. You’d be hard pressed to find someone wearing sweat pants in public in Lithuania, though many students will change into their pajamas at night.
It has been very strange to me not understanding the languages that I hear around me. Most people on campus speak Russian in the dorms, but I’ve also heard Lithuanian, Georgian, Ukrainian, Latvian, Romanian, German, and even a little Spanish being spoken around campus! LCC is truly an international school! Most people are happy to switch over to English though if someone doesn’t understand. My friends have been helpful, and have taught me a few words in their own languages that I can use in conversation. So far, I’ve learned around 10 phrases in Russian, a word or two in Romanian, and several words in Lithuanian (though I am taking the class).
Here is a neat video that I have found about Lithuanian culture, hope you enjoy it!