News - July 27, 2016

Blog: Migrants and Explorers

In het latest blog, Kristina Simonaityte writes about travelling. She tries to discover similarities between the Dutch and Lithuanians.

It’s 5 am in the morning and getting ready to leave for the airport – I'm going home home for a week. Everything’s packed, bike is secured, door's locked... and I’m off. It’s been seven months since I’ve been back to Lithuania; my second longest stretch ever!

It’s before rush hour, so the train is sleepy and quiet. It’s a direct train to Schiphol with plenty of people carrying multiple huge suitcases. Just thinking about having another half-way-around-the-world trip makes me queasy.

Last time I was on the Intercity was less than two weeks ago, for a day trip to Amsterdam. Apparently, I’ve been there more times in two years than some of my Dutch friends in their entire lives! Or that in general I’ve travelled way more around the country: Dordrecht, Leiden, Den Bosch, Alkmaar, Eindhoven, Delft, Den Haag, Nijmegen to name a few.

Which I’d find really funny if not for the fact that it’s exactly the same with me and Lithuania. I’ve seen quite a bit of the country during school trips, but that was ages ago. I know Kaunas (my hometown) and Vilnius (the capital) very well, but I’d be the same tourist in any other place in my country. Except I know the language, of course. I wonder how travellers, who somehow find themselves in the Lithuanian countryside, communicate with my fellow countrymen...

I'm at the airport now, waiting by the gate. I was telling my mum recently about the final thesis presentations of three of my fellow Forest and Nature Conservation students. They did their fieldworks in Uganda, Mongolia and Tanzania. What is it about our programme, our university or whatever reason that so many of my coursemates travel so far abroad to do their research or internship, my mother asked.

My answer – it’s in the Dutch blood! And her reply – ah yes, of course!

Both completely serious.

I think world travel is also in the Lithuanian blood. Different from the Dutch though: we’re less explorers, and more scrappy migrants, still inexplicably attached to that small patch of land on the Baltic. Nowadays more than half a million of Lithuanians live abroad – and only some three million at home.        

We’re boarding. Lots of Dutch travelling to Vilnius today. I wonder what they hope to see. But I guess it’s the travel that really matters, for us bizarre and wonderful explorers.