A month and a half ago I woke up at 4:00 am with a mild stomach ache and headed to the airport to start a journey that had been in the works for about six months. Everything I needed for the next six months had been packed the night before, in true Emma fashion. It was finally time to head to Lithuania and study for six months while living with my aunt, as well as travel all around Europe and beyond. As I drank my mint tea in a heavy daze on the drive to the plane I had no idea that it was possible to miss something as much as I missed the sun, or ranch dressing for that matter. All I could think about was how I had gotten myself into this, leaving everyone I knew behind to go to an entirely new city in a country that few have ever heard about.
Flash forward to Valentine’s Day and I am still not used to weather that only gets sunny when it is in the negative digits. I have however, grown accustomed to taking the hour long walk home from school through old town Vilnius, passing by the cathedral and stopping at one of the numerous “pop up” stores to grab a croissant for the equivalent of about $1.50 (which is a lot better of deal than the $6.00 slices of stale pound cake they sell at school). I learned that the first time I walked home was the “road less traveled”, as I really had no idea what I was doing apart from the directions my phone was giving me. My phone took me the less desirable way home, through the industrial part of town, and then my phone really through me for a loop when it decided to turn off at 23%. I guess my phone also needed time to acclimate to this cold weather. Long story short, after walking home with friends several times, I learned a better way home that took me home through the main street, and a way that didn’t require the use of all my phone battery to navigate.
I have slowly found my away around the traffic signals here, learning that just because the crosswalk says you have the right of way really doesn’t mean anything. I have also slowly gotten used to the small streets, and how it is quite normal to be in a car with a trolley bus seemingly inches away from the side window mirrors of the car.
I have yet to tackle the beast of navigating my way around town by bus, but I have gotten the hang of using a taxi app, and by “getting the hang of it” I mean that I have discovered how useful coins are, so that I don’t end up giving 50% tips to every taxi every time with my 5 euro bills. With taxi’s readily available at all times of the day, I was able to grab one and go to one of the numerous malls in Vilnius, and it was there, while meeting up with a friend, I discovered the single most glorious item to date…bubble tea! Back home I drink this stuff religiously, and so I was quite disappointed upon arrival learning that there was no bubble tea in Vilnius. My disappointment dissipated as soon as learned that hot chocolate here literally means you get a cup full of melted chocolate, but never the less when I found the bubble tea stand in the mall I was quite happy. Drinking the bubble tea felt more like home to me than the numerous burgers I tried here, I guess stereotypical American food doesn’t remind me of my America.
With all this being said I leave you with several photos of the town of Vilnius, a town I am slowly being able to call home, as well as a local castle about 30 minutes outside Vilnius.