The semester is coming to a close, and I am finding it hard to really grasp that my time is almost over here in Lithuania. This study abroad experience has been nothing less than life changing. I have experienced another culture, travelled to different countries, and made a home here in Klaipeda. I definitely did not expect all of this.
I remember back to our first week in Lithuania, starting in Vilnius. It seems like just yesterday, but at the same time, it feels like years ago. I remember being shy and nervous about this new experience, and very unsure. Who would have known that after 4 months I would go from feeling restless and overwhelmed to settled and content in this new place? If you told me that I would see Poland, an item on my life bucket list, or stand in front of the Baltic Sea so many times, or even enjoy going grocery shopping by myself, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, all of these things and so much more have happened.
One of the main reasons I will miss Klaipeda so much is because I have settled more into myself here. I didn’t realize this was happening until after the Russia trip. I feel more secure in making decisions and even taking time to go out with friends or even just by myself. Studying abroad has taught me to embrace more of an independent and intentional spirit, which I never realized I needed before. I truly love who I have and am still becoming due to my experiences here. Klaipeda will always hold a very dear and special place in my heart. It’s home.
Of course, Klaipeda has become home for other reasons as well. I love going into the city, especially now with the beautiful weather. My favorite moment is when the bus passes the main square and crosses the bridge into Old Town. I love looking at the boat and seeing the coffee shops. Now, it is so familiar and comforting. I go into the city to explore, to study, and just to breathe. A lot of this happens at coffee shops, and I am not complaining! 10 Tiltu, Musangas, and Caffeine are my favorite places for chilling with friends, journaling, and getting some homework done. I will definitely miss these places and all of the delicious bakeries and walking through Theatre Square for different events when I go back to my home in the States.
Studying abroad in Lithuania has also taught me the value of spontaneity and intentionality. Some of my favorite memories were the ones that happened randomly, like going out late to see the Light Festival on Valentine’s Day or saying yes to a friend for going out to get coffee or kebabs or seeing the sunset on the beach. These are treasures. It has also been rewarding to be more intentional with people, both familiar and new. I have met new friends among the study abroad students and the LCC community. Again, coffee at coffee shops or even dinner or lunch at a new place are a great way to get to know someone better. (A theme is emerging here…can you guess where I like to spend my time?)
I know my time as a student here must come to an end (but does it have to?!). I will be taking back so much with me: a new outlook on the world, a high appreciation for different cultures, new words from a few languages, and new and valuable friendships. It’s a little bittersweet for me since I am not sure when I will be back in Lithuania, but I will be back one day! I don’t know what will come next on my journey, but I will have all of these things with me. Lithuania is truly a gem of a country with so much to offer and to teach you. The next chapter is about to begin shortly, and the journey continues on.
Labai ačiū Lietuva. Aš tave myliu.