Notes from Baltic: My EVS in Lithuania as a Svitac volunteer – Gorana Sekulić
“Yes, I am moving to Lithuania after this.” I say to my Italian colleague that one sunny August day during our lunch break.
“Lithuania?” he looks at me half confused, trying to place the country somewhere.
“Lithuania, yes.” I say, half confused too, thinking he might have momentarily forgotten that it is in Europe, adding: “You know, it is one of the Baltic countries. I have been wanting to see it for a while now.”
And here I am, four and a half months later, living my Baltic EVS experience. A lot has happened in these four and a half months. I can confidently say that I have enough material for an adventure novel.
Let me say right away that I don’t live in Vilnius. I live in a tiny town called Biržai, which is close to Latvian border and has about 15, 000 inhabitants. Talk about change! I have lived all my life in big cities, amidst noise and rush. Biržai with its charming lake and slow pace has however managed to win me over. I will not say it is easy, especially when I feel like catching the latest movie or having a drink at a pub with friends and all of that is not possible. But, it is however, a new experience and an opportunity to try to use my time in another creative way.
Of course, every once in a while, I escape. I have traveled to Riga, Latvia and Oslo, Norway, thanks to very cheap plane tickets. I have already bought ticket to go to Berlin and Copenhagen in spring months. And, there is so much to see here in Lithuania! The nature here is majestic and so lush, that even in the cities you can feel its presence. In some moments when I was roaming around Vilnius, I felt like I was in an enchanted forest. Speaking about forests, just the other day I actually walked among treetops in a natural park in Anykščiai. I visited Kaunas, Panevežys, Kirkilai, Trakai, Vabalninkas, and Medeiki.
So where do I actually volunteer? I volunteer for Biržai region museum “Sėla”! I am chasing after new knowledge and experience in the field that I chose as my profession, having an MA in heritage management. In these four months, I have done educational workshops (with over 230 children and teenagers), guided visits and programs, helped set up an exhibition, represented the museum at a tourism fair, edited the English version of the website. Not bad, eh? I eagerly await what spring and summer at the museum will bring.
Until then, I will continue living this winter wonderland – I survived -22 degrees Celsius few weeks ago. I will continue making friends – local and international ones, since there are so many people doing their EVS in Lithuania. I will continue eating local food- potato in all the different versions, sour cream I can’t get enough of and all that great cheese. I will continue learning Lithuanian- which has cases and all these weird sounds I am not capable of pronouncing. I will continue this EVS journey.
Gorana Sekulić, EVS volunteer, Svitac