Visits to her home country always bring blogger Kristina in a reflective mood. Lithuania is a wonderful place, but sometimes it seems most easily loved from a distance.
It’s been almost a week since I’m back in Lithuania. I decided that this would be the perfect time to share something about my home country, since I’m reflecting a lot about living in different places and societies anyway during these transitional periods. Or put more simply – reflecting on what I enjoy and find frustrating when I’m back home.
This year I’ve spent significantly more time abroad than in Lithuania. The same applies to all the years since my high school graduation. So when others ask me to tell something about my country I always feel a bit anxious. My Lithuania is a kind of social construct based on the prior experiences, my love for its tumultuous history, the few weeks I spend in my hometown and the capital city each year, and Facebook (that’s where I get all my Lithuanian news). What I see, is not necessarily how it really is, for better or worse.
I’m always trying to be positive and I truly think that Lithuania is a very exciting country that has a lot to offer. The fact that there are still a lot of problems means that there are also tons of opportunities. I’m the first to defend Lithuania when foreigners parrot various stereotypes. But sometimes even I hesitate: things are just not moving fast enough, some people are so ignorant and closed-minded and even malicious. I was just reading this article about restoration of a wetland and the comments were all ‘what a waste of money’ or ‘have we got no real problems anymore’. There were also barely 50 people in People’s Climate March in Vilnius a few weeks back…
It’s not just environment – every few months our parliament tries to pass another homophobic law, politicians do not get penalized for promoting hate speech. Issues such as suicide, alcoholism and unceasing emigration are still not systematically addressed. But hey, we have the fastest public Wi-Fi in the world, so at least we have got that going for us.
I love Lithuania, but sometimes I do think I’d rather love it from a distance. But then I come back and I walk my favourite streets in Kaunas, take a train to Vilnius through the swamps and forests, go to theatre or meet up with friends who live here permanently and listen to their inspiring stories and I think – you know, we’ll be all right. Lithuania and I are almost the same age and both still trying to find our place in the world and get things right. Growing pains are only normal – as long as we outgrow them.
Kristina is a second year student MSc Forest and Nature Conservation. She has just returned from her field work Perth, Australia and is now writing her thesis.