Sitting in the Liverpool airport en route to Lithuania, I decided against sleeping in the airport after I observed a crazy man walking a round and ranting things at passerbys. I kept myself awake for 6 hours overnight and then arrived in Lithuania at 11am on Sunday.
I needed to take a small mini-bus 2 hours from Kaunus to Klaipeda (where LCC International is located). The landscape in Lithuania is beautiful and a lot like the countryside in Wisconsin or Iowa (more hills if you're comparing). There are thickly wooded forests and acres and acres of farmland with few towns.
I had my first introduction to the culture after three men sat around me in the bus and then wanted me to drink with them while we rode. They did not speak English but understood my refusal. Apparently in Lithuania it is legal to drink in a vehicle as well as walk around with open containers. We then had to make two stops on the way so the increasingly intoxicated men could pee. Toward the end of the two hours I was afraid I might be puked on, since one of the guys was leaning over with his head in his hands looking ill.
I arrived at a shopping mall in Lithuania and was picked up by Steve and Diane (the director and his wife) and Jake and Lisa (the other Hall Director and his wife) and James who will also be working at the school.
We had a great lunch in the mall and I learned that it is almost cheaper to eat out than cooking at home! Meals are very cheap so I am going to eat out a lot here! I also asked Steve and Diane if "they had known James for awhile?" after a couple stories they told. I had missed the fact that he is their son!
I got settled into my apartment last night. I have included several pictures of my apartment, the campus, my office and the view from my office (with the pond in it). The campus is only three buildings since the enrollment at the university is 650 students. So it feels a bit like a small high school with residence halls. I also learned that in Lithuania culture students respect and understand authority, but do not have as much respect for women in authority roles. So that will be a challenge this summer.
Klaipeda is a city of about 200,000 people. It is located on a port and cruise ships stop here to visit. I got to walk around the city for a bit today and many of the streets are cobblestones and there is a section of town called "Old Town" with many original buildings. The city was founded by Germans and was once part of Prussia. There are also many traces of Soviet rule. The apartments surrounding the campus all have a similar design and many look dingy and run down on the outside buy are nice on the inside. I will take and then upload some pictures soon! There is a beach 40min away by foot and a penninsula that you can take a ferry to reach. I already love the city and plan to explore a lot (plus I saw a thrift store).
Nothing is in English here, and very few people speak English or only speak a few words. So it is culture shock! Thank goodness I get to explore with Jake and Lisa (the other RDs) who are really nice. The faculty (English teachers) arrive tonight, and the students arrive on Saturday. So, more to come!