THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Hi, I am 18, I left
Lithuania two years ago
By Cassandra Myhre,
August 2013 was a time full of changes. It was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I did not know what to expect or look forward to. The only thing I was certain of was the pain and the complete and utter disappointment I felt when I left my friends and everything behind in Lithuania, moving to my father’s home country Norway. My name is Cassandra (18) and this is my story.
I was born grew up in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and I absolutely adored the city. I danced ballet for 13 years in the “National Opera and Ballet Theatre”, I played the piano for 9 years, I had lots of friends at school and I was engaged in various activities. When I think about what I achieved in Lithuania I get a warm and a tender feeling inside. The memories I have
When I was 6 years old, I started going to a private school. It was hard for
When our friendship started, it was completely different. I went to my first sleepover when I was 12. It was weird and exciting. I became a part of her family; I even cured my fear of dogs (since she had 4 at that time). Either way, the time passed by, I kept on dancing and performing and I could not have asked for a better life. However, one day my parents came to me and told me that we have to move away to Norway. I did not react because I thought this was once again something they came up with impulsively and we would forget about it within a month. But when a month passed by and then the second one and the third one, I realized that this was real. Everything became crystal clear. I would be leaving Greta behind, I would never again be surrounded by people from the theatre and I would never again feel the euphoria when I would perform on the stage. The idea of moving away was somewhat repulsive and I simply tried to push it away. For another year, nothing changed and I thought that it was all forgotten, however, one day my parents informed me that we were taking the ferry to Stockholm from Riga and that it is a one-way trip. I think I could feel my heart stop for a few seconds. I remember the extreme amount of thoughts rushing through my mind and my hands started shake. The first thing I did was to write to Greta and Austeja (another very dear friend of mine whom I have known for 15 years).
When we had to leave, Greta and Austeja came to say goodbye and oh how painful it was to say farewell. Greta even brought me a portrait of us two together, which has always been by my side ever since. The journey began and for some time I felt nothing. No pain, no excitement. We finally arrived to a place called Vollen (not so far away from Oslo) and it was then I realized that this was the reality. The realization hit me hard. For another 6 months nothing seemed to go my way. I went to the International Baccalaureate program but it simply was not as fulfilling if to compare with everything I had in Lithuania.
Time passed by, while I was in a small state of depression. It seemed that nothing would ever change I would have to live in misery forever. However, in May my family decided to move to Oslo. It was amazing. I finally could feel the atmosphere. The ongoing life in the city hit me and it was glorious. I started looking for a job, I started to train, my mom and I would go for our traditional walk to Aker Brygge (one of the most beautiful harbors I have ever encountered) and finally life seemed to be pretty good. In June, I got a job at a restaurant called “The Broker”. I was very excited and for a while, I only concentrated on that. The summer passed by really quickly, and I had to go back to school.
Life was good. I studied, I worked, I trained – what else could I ask for? At the end of the school year I had 14 exams, which was hectic, but I managed. After that, I travelled to Germany with some of my classmates and then to Paris. I felt really proud, because I was saving money for these two trips the whole year and I finally was able to provide for myself. In Paris, I met up with Greta, who came from Lithuania and we had 5 fantastic days in the city center. I have never felt so relaxed and happy for a long time. After that, we both went to Lithuania where I stayed for 2 months. The problem is that I was very excited for my stay in my home country and I was greatly disappointed when I realized that I actually missed Norway. Of course, it was nice seeing my grandparents, my old friends, my old apartment and my theatre. I cried because the feeling of nostalgia surrounded me, but yet, Lithuania seemed different. People did not recognize me as a Lithuanian anymore. In their eyes, I was a foreigner. I felt sadness inside of me. When I was with my friends, the negative feelings would disappear, but when I would look around, there were many people who lived in misery. I had completely forgotten that life in Lithuania is much more complicated than in Norway. I had forgotten that I lived in a country filled with opportunities, whilst people in Lithuania had to fight harder to achieve something. I do not know what is better though. I do agree that some of the teenagers here in Norway are greatly spoiled and perhaps they do not deserve those opportunities that they get. But at the same time, they grew up in the Norwegian environment and they do not know that another kind of life is possible. Don´t get me wrong, I am not defending any of the two countries. Lithuanians, in my eyes, are amazing people, however, some of them lack motivation and I feel that the Lithuanian mentality is captured in a box.
At first I thought it was only me who noticed this, but when I talk to many other people who have left Lithuania, they say the exact same thing. Norway has become very dear to me. Especially now, since I live alone in Tromsø (north of Norway) where I study “Politics, Economics and Philosophy” at the Norwegian Arctic University. Many people ask me if I have ever considered going back to Lithuania to live or study, and my answer is always “no”. I would love to go back to the time when I was 16 years old and life in Lithuania was amazing, but now my life is build up in Norway and it would be simply too hard to leave everything behind. I am happy that I lived in Lithuania for 16 years, and when I moved to Norway, I opened a new chapter.
All in all, I am happy that I am half Lithuanian and half Norwegian, because without these two countries, I would not be who I am today. This contributes greatly to my identity and it makes me proud to say that I have both Lithuanian and Norwegian blood.
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