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Baltic: What do Lithuanians miss most about being in a foreign country?

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Lithuania, Trakai

For the last 12 years, I have been constantly leaving my country, coming back once or twice a year. I have visited 66 countries, many of them more than once. And I came to the conclusion that my home country Lithuania is a very decent place to live.

Before my first departure, I didn’t like Lithuania and thought it was probably the worst place to live in the whole world – an opinion put into my head by local negative people (those who never travel, but only complain) or the media (who also stir up negativity).

I now know that this is not true

Apart from extra figures for your salary, there is little that makes the average foreign country better than Lithuania. Add a few extra figures to your expenses abroad, and you end up living almost the same as in Lithuania.

I’m talking about “normal” working people in Lithuania and “normal” working people abroad. I am not talking about unemployed people living below the poverty line, but about those who never leave the country.

I have seen the conditions many Lithuanians live in in the UK or Ireland, and I have been told unpleasant stories about conditions in Norway or the Netherlands.

They rent accommodation for many people to live together, eat the simplest unhealthiest food, and work the worst jobs that no local would ever go for, their houses are moldy, there is no centralized hot water, and they use boilers to take a shower – like in the Stone Age. Many of them had a better life back home, so what’s the point of running away?

It is because they have been indoctrinated that life is better abroad

Of course, there are successful people who have good jobs and housing, but these lucky people make up only 10% of those who have left.

So, what I missed the most was being able to pay less for quality living conditions.

I didn’t live in the worst conditions myself, but the basic things I was used to were sometimes costing me money.

As an example, when I lived in Northern Ireland, I could never get my flat (which was a beautiful red brick building that was supposed to be warm) warm in winter. It was never more than 18 degrees, and if I put the heating on maximum, I only got 20 degrees, paying twice as much for it.

I visited my Irish friends there and it was often the same story! In Lithuania, I lived in a regular flat in a 5-story building, and it was 23 – 25 degrees inside in winter, I could stay there in my underwear if I wanted to. Hot water came straight from the tap, not through stupid boilers and stuff. And we never knew wild things like mold and humidity.

Another thing that I missed was food

Not the specific cuisine, not at all. I am not a fan of Lithuanian traditional meals. Affordable cooked food other than burgers or Indian takeaway was the biggest miss for me. All that people ate over there was burgers, burgers, (and I am not even talking about junk food like McDonald’s but “restaurant-made” burgers), fish and chips, burgers again, fries, fried rice, Subway sandwiches… I will stop here; you get the point.

It felt like all that people eat in UK and Ireland was burgers – real burger mania… and no one understood my wish to have other food, no one really knew what is wrong with having burgers 3 times a day.

When I wanted to go for a steak or normal soup or, let’s say, anything other than burgers – this cost at least 20 – 30 pounds for 1 person. Now think if you have to eat there 2 – 3 times a day. It’s 100 pounds a day!

In an environment that is usually coupled with wooden benches and simplified interiors and you don’t even feel pleased leaving your money there. So…no, thank you.

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In Lithuania, you can get real steak or salmon with veggies and a pint of beer for 7 euros in average, even less if you know places and I am talking about NICE places with amazing interiors and pleasant atmosphere.

And if someone is willing to pay even less – go to Delano, Forto Dvaras, or Chili Kaimas – 5 euro and you are full and you get real food, not plastic burgers with meat on hormones.

I also learned that in Asia (China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong) such a thing as real milk does not exist. It is all processed from powder, they don’t know other milk. There is no cheese in those countries as well.

In Lithuania milk products are excellent, natural, and cheap – it costs extra to put chemicals in them so local factories produce them without them. Why take the effort and expense to transform milk to the powder and then back to milk if they can sell real milk? So simple!!! :-)))

Lithuania has another great treasure that its people have yet to realize

Żemaitija — Samogitia — Żmudź
Lithuania: Żemaitija

A real treasure that 75% of the world’s population can only dream of. And many nations look at us with envy, though they will never say so out loud. Especially in Asia and the overpopulated areas of Europe.

We have a lot of land with little population. И… attention! It’s not a desert or mountains or endless frost like in the Tundra. This is 100% livable land with a temperate and pleasant climate, fertile soils, large forests, sandy sea beaches, freshwater with 3000+ lakes, and 1000+ rivers. 65,000 square kilometers of such beauty… For just 3 million people!

Many nations would kill for that, they live like sardines in a can, suffocating in polluted air and with no nature around them. With the same population density as the Netherlands or Belgium, Lithuania should have 25 – 27 million people, almost 10 times as many as it has now.

Imagine 10 times as many people in front of you, traffic jams on the roads, queues in shops, no seats on benches in parks, crowded beaches, etc.

Sound scary? How about this fact: with the density of Greater London, Lithuania should have about 180 million people!!! (Do the math – Greater London is 8.8 million people and 3,300 square kilometers, which is 20 times less than Lithuania).

So, nature, ecology, and no moles are other things I appreciate about Lithuania. We can drive, sometimes even walk (!!!) from the city center to a wild forest, lake, river or sand dunes and not meet a soul there for hours! And it’s almost always safe and peaceful.

Safety and again, safety!

And here I come to the last, but no less important virtue – SAFETY. People in Lithuania, especially old gossipers, think they live in a super dangerous country and crime is wild here.

In a country with news about a dog getting hit by a car or two drunk guys having a fight after a beer. It’s a joke, not a serious crime. These people don’t even realize how safe Lithuania is compared to many places in the world.

Violent crime is rare. Terrorism is unheard of. Serial killers have never existed (not one!). You can walk day and night almost anywhere and you will be safe, even for a woman. I’m talking in general, of course there are exceptions, but they only confirm the rule.

Lithuania has changed a lot in the last 15-20 years

It has become a much more comfortable and pleasant country to live in than, say, in the 1990s, during the transformation from communism to capitalism. I’m not saying it’s the best place in the world. I’m saying it’s a perfectly fine place to live, in some respects better than many other places, in some perhaps still behind, but on average it’s a good country.

If anyone still thinks Lithuania is not a good place to live and that paradise is waiting for them somewhere in the UK or Ireland, it’s time to wake up. You might earn twice or three times as much there, but you’ll be an emigrant, a third-class citizen, an outcast (again, unless you’re lucky enough to succeed, which is rare).

There are many more things I could have mentioned, but I’ll stop there so as not to make this article any longer than it is.

Enjoy Lithuania!

By Markūs Stenerys

The Baltic Review
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