Letters From Abroad #2

by Jessica Van der Stad

I have made it safe and sound. I am glad to say that I have finally settled into my dorm, met my new roommates, and attended a full week of classes.

Lithuania is unlike any country I have experience before; A slight mixture of old and new. I spent most of last week in the capital city of Vilinius, a baroque old town that is the largest in Eastern Europe and praised as the 'New Prague'. Not exactly Prague in my opinion, but still holds its own charm.

On the other hand, Klaipeda, where I now live, is almost indescribable. I know that I have only been here a few days, but I am already in love. The coastline is filled with vast areas of wild white sand dunes, snuggled up hundreds of pine trees. The old town is a classic port city, with a constant flow of ferries, fishermen, and the like. I find myself wishing to get lost each day, just so I can explore more.

Back at the dorm, my roommates are amazing. Two are from Lithuania and the other is from Albania. All are graduating this semester. We have already spent an entire night discussing graduate schools. We seem to have a lot in common, at least when it comes to struggling to decide what we are going to do after college!

The school is everything I could have dreamed of in regards to being culturally diverse. Everyone is something else. My classmates are from across the globe - from Ikazakhstan to Macedonia to Nigeria - my professors from America and China, and the old man who works at the nearby bakery (which has become my home away from home – I love the Monday morning chocolate filled pastries) born in India, raised in the states, schooled in Ukraine, and now lives in Lithuania.

As for the weather here, it is a long dark affair (literally). The “sun” rises around 9am and sets around 4pm. And by “sun”, I mean the slight bit of lightness which peaks through the clouds every once in a while.

The climate isn’t too bad. And by too bad I mean that I have not suffered from frost-bite just yet. The temperature rarely rises above 4°C and frequently dips below zero, particularly at night. What can I say? It has a slight edge that gives it that fresh eastern European charm.

I have so much more to tell you, but dinner is on the stove. My neighbor and I are cooking an authentic Albanian dish tonight. Don’t ask me what’s in it … I just hope she understands what vegetarian means.

From across the ocean,