Life in Lithuania: significantly less shitty than the last time I posted.
Since the last time that I posted I have: had two Thanksgiving dinners with good friends and some super awesome kids, studied a whole bunch, bought my return ticket from Germany in January, talked with a lot of good people, begun to learn Yiddish (or at least the alphabet), committed to a local nonprofit for the remainder of my time here, found a flat on the other side of town, and learned to enjoy living with another person.
When Monika’s family heard about the Great Thanksgiving Disaster, they immediately invited me to their home for Thanksgiving. It was fabulous. It had everything that an American Thanksgiving should have, including sugar-pumped kids and a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. They also had Charmin. That last detail might seem mundane to you guys, but that is only because you haven’t gone through the hell on earth that is Lithuanian toilet paper. Remember those chemistry lab paper towels? The brown ones? Put those on a roll, make them all bumpy and that is what they have here. If you spring for the two-ply you just get two disconnected layers of the same stuff. So, an amazing turkey, stove top stuffing, brussels sprouts that were actually tasty, spoon bread, and toilet paper that doesn’t make me want to cry. It was perfect! (their home is decorated in the Americana style, which made me homesick and comfortable all at the same time).
Second Thanksgiving: when I told one of my colleagues in Russian about Thanksgiving, he got really excited, so I decided that I would throw a party for the holiday. I bought a turkey (had to go all the way to Maxima XXX), potatoes, made stuffing, a green bean casserole and rolls. Surprisingly, I didn’t mess anything up beyond recognition (although I did something to the gravy…). It ended up being only five people, but since we were forced to have it in the kitchen (God forbid we use the common room for anything other than walking through to get to the stairs) it was pleasantly cosy and wonderful. Nicholas made us pizza and provided the wine, Thomas helped with the dinner, Monika kept me in line as far as the food went, and Helene and Sedef provided excellent company. Of course I didn’t take pictures, because I always forget to take pictures of things, but I think Monika got some and I hope I will get copies. It really felt like home to me, just sitting around with people who I like a whole bunch talking nonsense and eating good food (well, acceptable food), I think that it really helped to set me straight emotionally and it made the holiday really special. So thanks guys!
Studying: you get this one, I have done a whole bunch of it, not worth talking about.
Yiddish: for the perplexed, it is the language of the Jews of Europe which was centered in Lithuania, roughly, although its roots are mostly German. It’s written in the Hebrew alphabet, and contains a large Slavic component. Mostly, I just try to memorize a few letters and listen to the old people talk at the Yiddish Reading Circle. I get really excited when I recognize a word. Progress is slow, but it’s fun to hear a language that is, at the very least, endangered.
Nonprofit: because of the personal nature of this website, I’m going to keep the details of this project to myself. It’s super awesome, though, and it will give me an opportunity to use my mad collection-development skills. I will have to learn the Dewey Decimal System, though, because it’s all the rage in Lithuanian libraries.
A flat: note how I say “flat” and not “apartment”. It’s the Erasmus English getting to me. Anyhow. It is closer to campus and I will get to have a room to myself, more or less, and I don’t have to deal with any kind of babushka at all. There is a washing machine, wireless internet, a bathtub, and NO COCKROACHES! It’s also sort of expensive, but I am actively recruiting roommates to lower the cost. I am also totally willing to adjust my budget by the 100 litas or so in order to get the benefits listed above. The benefits of the dorm are certainly not outweighing the negatives (benefits: cheap, there is an oven; negatives: everything else). (what the hell is the opposite of benefits? Oh, shit, I am forgetting English for real)
Roommate: way better than I thought it would be. She accompanied me to Akropolis for the turkey, and it’s nice to have someone to talk to all the time. I still resent having to have some sort of pants on at all times, but I am getting over it. We also cook together a lot, so that’s nice. I have all kinds of weirdness when it comes to food sharing, so it’s nice to break down some of those barriers.
Tomorrow: Lithuanian test, I hope that the threatening symptoms that I am having don’t turn into pig flu.
Friday: Lithuanian oral exam followed by a McDonald’s date with my American comrade, and some papers to research and write.
So, to recap, I am back to really enjoying this country. except the weather. The weather here can still piss right off.