Morganne, Outbound to Lithuania

Labas,

Yay!!! This journal will be happier than the last one!!!!!! These past two months have been very very lovely. Of course with some small bumps in the road, but I really can’t ask for anything better.

My first few weeks at school in January were really difficult for me. I felt very alone at school, and that I had “no friends.” Looking back at that time only a month later, I can see the things that caused me to feel that way, and what I could have done to make it better. First, the weather was really bad. It was cloudy and cold everyday. I wish that at that time, I understood that it was partially the weather contributing to my mood and outlook. Second, I really missed my family. Coming back to Lithuania after being in America for a few weeks made me really miss them, which is kind of backwards to how you think I would feel. Whenever I felt alone, I thought of my family in America, instead of focusing on the people I had to support me here in Lithuania. Which only made me miss them more; the spiraling effects of homesickness. Third, I expected local friends to continue to reach out to me. In the beginning of my exchange, I worked really hard to make friends. After coming back from America, some of these friendships changed. It took me some time to accept that some friends, I had to move on from. This meant that again, just like in the beginning of my exchange, I needed to work to make new friends. This of course is difficult when you aren’t the “new foreign kid” anymore. For a few weeks, instead of doing the work to again make better local friends, I became a bit isolated. I spent time in my room pitying the fact I had “no friends” (even though I did) (this was dramatic Morganne). Fourth, I had a new host family. Even though I was present with my family, and was really trying to get to know them, the first month with a new family I think is something that is difficult for every student. Of course, my family is wonderful and I love them now, but living with a family you don’t know that well simply makes you feel even more alone. Along with there not being many things to do in January in Lithuania, this combination of things made it a pretty rough month.

But February! February was my month! I went to London! It was a short trip- 3 days- but was really really awesome. I saw every tourist sight and maybe a bit more :) Going back to school after London was easier, I was again my normal, outgoing self. I now again enjoy going to school and love seeing friends there each day. This past month I became really close with my host family. They are really invested in making sure I truly understand Lithuanian culture; we visited another Lithuanian city together, celebrated Lithuanian Mardi Gras (Užgavėnės), and they are ALWAYS cooking me Lithuanian food. My favorite thing that I have done with them, and one of my favorite things from my entire exchange, is visiting a Lithuanian village with them. My host Dad’s Aunt and family lives in this village, and it was so so so awesome. This village has one food store, and one “items” store. There are around 35-40 people living in the village, and they are the literal definition of a “close-knit community.” At my family’s home in the village, they get their water from a well, heat there home with a stove, and use an outhouse (no plumbing!!!!!). They have chickens, cows, pigs, rabbits, and one really old sheep. I was lucky enough to see 6 day old piglets, and I watched my family milk the cows. It was truly amazing for me for more than one reason. Firstly, I didn’t realize that in my host country, people were still living like this. It is a complete contrast from the city I’m living in, which does indeed have plumbing. Secondly, talk about exchange being hard work?! Talk about waking up everyday at 5am to milk cows and never taking a vacation, that’s hard work. I also really enjoyed the people I met there; they have a heavy accent, so I didn’t understand much of what they said, but they gave me lots of food, which usually means they like you ;) In February I also visited Klaipėda (a city by the sea), this was an awesome trip. I got to spend it with a Lithuanian who had gone to Taiwan with Rotary last year, and he showed me all of the secret spots of the city. I also had a really awesome time with my exchange friends at an indoor ski slope, where Rotary arranged snowboarding lessons for us! (Thank you Žydre) We all had a really awesome time, and it makes me look forward to the euro-tour at the end of the year. February was one of the best months of my life, and I’m ready to make March even better.

Speaking of the end of the year- I cannot BELIEVE I only have four months left. It is absolutely crazy that I will be home so soon. I know that this time is going to go especially quick because I have so many things going on, and I am working to make each day meaningful. There are still so many things to do, so many places to see, and so many people to meet! This mindset is something that exchange has taught me, and a way that I will continue to live even after exchange. You have to live life each day as if you only have four months of exchange left! ;)

I can of course talk about how exchange has changed me as a person. My priorities have definitely changed. I do things for myself now, not for others. I really feel like I have a better grasp on how I want to live my life, how I want to make it meaningful. Exchange was something I did to grow myself as a person. I can say that I have certainly grown more than I expected, and with 4 months left, I know I will grow into someone even more different than I thought.

Love you and miss you Mom, Dad, and Mallory!!!!

Until the next journal~~~~~~

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