Monday, July 16, 2012

Last Weekend Here!!

It's crazy to think that in less then a week I will be back home in the States. It has been such a great experience and I have truly learned a lot about myself in this time.

On Thursday, we made tacos for the Portuguese since they have never heard of them. The taco shells were a little hard and tasted different but at least they got to experience tacos. They were shocked that I was in a taco club at UNC... I was wearing my taco club shirt and they loved it. We went out into town to go listen to some live music and have a couple beers. The music seemed pretty good since we didn't understand the words it was the best we could do.

On Friday, we got up early to start our trip to the coast of Lithuania! It was about a four hour drive and then some. First we stopped at a pretty famous brewery to take a tour of the company. Their beer was very different then most places. At the brewery they had like a amusement park. Mostly it was like a rope course with many different levels. It had zip lines!! So since we were with the owner of the complex we got to try the course out for ten litas instead of 55 litas! It was so much fun! Challenging but fun! The hardest one was we had to most go across this wire of 30 feet with just our upper body strength while trying to get our feet in these little rope loops. One of the obstacles was that we had to swing across the forest like George of the Jungle... So of course I yelled just like him! Since it was a zip line course I got to cross off one more thin on my bucket list!

Once we finally got to the cost, we found out house that most of the guys were staying at, it pretty much reminded me of a fraternity house, lost of rooms and bathrooms, and one big hangout room! In Palanga, you can really see the soviet union architecture or the lack of it! Since this was mostly the "Miami beach" of the Soviet Union it was kind of freaky to think about what it was like thirty years ago, having generals waking around and staying in the same rooms that we were staying. That night, we made dinner for the whole house, we made spegettii with a meat sauce. Then, some of the professors an the other people of our program came over to just have a good time before going out.

The next day was mostly the beach day. We went swimming in the Baltic sea, which wasn't as cold as one would think. We walked around the whole beach and up and down the main street... Which had little kid carnival games ever two feet. You can tell that most of the economy here was based on the summer season.

Today, I woke up pretty early and went to church, once again I did not understand one word besides amen. I tried to go to confession but no priest knew any English so I thought it most likely wouldn't be valid. On the way back to Vilnius, we are stoping by the second biggest city in Lithuania, Kaunas. It pretty much looked like the same as Vilnius but it has great history here since it was the old capital of Lithuania when Vilnius was part of Poland!

Photo #1: Is at the brewery.
Photo #2: is our "frat" house.
Photo #3: is the church that I went to mass on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

KGB and Lithuanian Food

Hello y'all!

Yesterday was the last class for one of our professors. He was such a great professor and was very patient with the Portuguese students besides the one day where he locked the door right when class started... Surprising the only students in the class were the Americans, when I mean surprising I was lying since the Portuguese are always late. You will see a picture below with me and the professor as well as a picture with the whole UNC group.

In our class now we have to come up with a project that we will have to plan from start to the end. Most of the groups in the class are doing like river boat tours in Lithuania, our group (3 American males) are doing the relocation of the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles. Yep, that is how we do things!

Yesterday was also the night that the Lithuanian students took us out to go get real Lithuanian food. They first started out with this bread bowl with mushroom soup in it then I had potato pancakes with bacon on top of it. After we went to a bar with the Lithuanians to just talk about the different cultures.

Today, since we had changed professors we started to have class in the morning instead of the afternoon. That was a hard one to get up for. But hey what is new!

After class, my friend and I went to the museum of genocide victims from the soviet union occupation of Lithuania in the 20th century. The exhibitions deal with the painful and dramatic times in Lithuania: the loss of independence, brutal reprisals at the hand of the Soviet regime, and the bitter fight for the reestablishment of independence. On the bottom floor of this building is actually a prison that they held Lithuanians at the time. It was very powerful experience, probably the most powerful experience was going into the execution chamber. It was hard to be in there but it is part of the world history.

Tonight, the Portuguese are cooking us real Portuguese food and tomorrow night we are cooking them American food. They have never had tacos, so we are cooking them that and Mac n cheese!

Peace out everyone!
Love ya

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 4th and the Lake House

Hello there!!

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week! The class that I am I love! It is very interesting. We are learning right now the different ways to manage teams and how the different people have different ways of leading. It is interesting because every team needs different kinds of leaders to make the team successful. The third day of class my team had to present on how to have a successful project and what characteristics a team needs to be successful.

On July 4th, we decided to bring some America to lithuania! We found some fireworks and decided that even if we are in a different country we would still celebrate. First we went out to have a couple of drinks with our professors and then went to a karaoke bar. After that we just came back to the hostel and hung out. I taught the other international students the phrase "USA all the way!" they loved it! The next day the hostel wasn't too happy with us but hey not everyone can win.

This weekend a bunch of the program students went on a trip to go up to Skype headquarters but since it cost more money I decided to not go. One
of the portuguese knows someone that has a lake house so since it has been really hot up here the last couple days we decided to go up to the lake to cool off for the day.

The house was really nice and since Friday was kinda like their independence day they had a nice local music fair going on by the lake so I got to see more of the Lithuania culture outside of the city. So every house on the lake has a little house by the lake for their sauna. So what happens is you sit in the room for 180 degrees for about 15 minutes than you run from there to the lake and you do that for about four times and the last time you get kind of a whipping with hot wet branches! It felt really good!!

Then today on the way back from the lake house we stopped Traku. It is a very famous town in Lithuania. It is a castle that is surrounded by a lake. It was pretty cool we got to go inside and tour it!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and staying safe!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

What A Difference A Day Makes

Wow... Rome and Vilnius are two completely different city's. Everything about them are different. In Rome it is 100 degrees, sunny, expensive, use euros, full of tourist, and always go go go! Here in Vilnius it is like 75 degrees, overcast, great exchange rate, and just a town full of relaxation.
My last day in Rome was very nice. I used it as my relaxation day and just saw the city. I found a little farmers market going on in town. It was nice. Then, I found a catholic Church that spoke English in mass and went to mass. I left for the airport after mass and found a nice little spot to rest for the night. Then half way though the night I was woken up by a city bum telling me that I was in his spot and I need to move... Since I am not going to try to fight with a bum that doesn't speak English I just left. That was a long night... I met this some people that spoke English and found out that two girls where from Colorado!! That was cool!
Once I finally got to Vilnius, it was like 3 pm I met up with another girl that is from UNC and we walked to the hostel together. After that we walked around the city trying to find the brewery, which we finally did. We also found a nice little pizza place to eat some dinner. The waitress was laughing at us because to say thank you in Lithuanian you pretty much act like you are sneezing and she would just keep saying bless you and laugh walking away.
The one cool thing here is that once they get married they go to the bridge and lock a padlock to the bridge and through the key in the river as a sign of love until death! Also, they have this art constitution that has all these funny saying like, Everyman has the right to die but not an obligation, and a dog has the right to be a dog. Really cool! There is a bunch of churches here and I am really excited to go see them!
Today we had our first class. It was in this really nice university here in lithuania. It is one of the best. The work load doesn't seem too bad but I am the only one taking one class instead of two that we could have taken. So the other students pretty much go to class from 9-5 and I only go from 1:30-5 which is still long but not as long!
The hostel that we are staying at is pretty nice. It is very quite. The problem is that they are trying to fit nine guys in a room that is made for like 6 beds haha. The program has about 20 Portugal students ( who are late for everything and talk through the whole class) one Ukraine student and 9 or so American students.
Welp... I will blog again in a couple days with some more pictures!

Friday, June 29, 2012

1 Day=9 subway trips= 4 basilicas

Today for some reason I woke up at 3:30 and was wide awake which means I just got 4 hours of sleep after being up for 34 hours. So I decided that I would eat breakfast around 7 than head to the Vatican.
Once I got there I was informed that I would not be able to go into the St.Peters Basilica till one because the Pope had a special mass for the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul. Since it was ticket only I couldn't sneak into the line. So I decided to go check out this gift store that I really liked but for some reason it was closed. I just kept walking and I saw this nun walk into this undisclosed door and I don't know why but I decided to follow her. It turned out that it was a private chapel and a cardinal was celebrating mass!! That was by far the coolest part of my day. Even though I did not understand one word of the mass.
After mass I went to St. Paul outside the walls. This is a great church! They believe that St. Paul was killed at this site for his faith! I went to mass there too and once again I had no clue what they were saying besides his English greeting at the beginning.
Then I went back to the Vatican and got into St. Peters and climbed up to the top of the dome!! It was so sweet but it I had to do stairs the whole way and it was hot hot hot!!
After the Vatican I got back on the subway and went to St. John Lateran, this is the popes official church! Right next to that you have the holy stairs, the steps that led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. You can only go up them on your knees!
On my way back I stopped by Mary Major again just to see it!
Tomorrow I don't really have plans I am just going to see what happens and head to the airport to sleep since my flight leaves Rome at 6 am.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Finally Made It!!

Well I finally got to Rome after traveling for 24 hours.. The good news is that I was able to get an exit row seat for the overseas flight which was really nice but I still couldn't sleep because for the most part it was like ten pm colorado time and I do not sleep that early!
Once I finally got to Rome after ridding the train into the city it took me awhile to find the hostel.
Right when I dropped all my stuff off I went straight to the Basilica of Mary Major. Here is probably the best picture I took there! The name of the church reflects two ideas of greatness ("major"), that of a major (or papal) basilica and that of the largest (major) church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Tonight I watched the Italy vs Germany soccer game with a bunch of Italians and Germans... Great time! Tomorrow I plan on going to the Vatican and also Basilica of St. John Lateran!

As always..If you would like to contact me while I am in Europe, of course you can comment on any of these posts! I will still have Internet access so you can E-mail me at Olson.Jeffrey.R@Gmail.com. I have a WiFi texting number - (325) 203-5211, so you can text me whenever you want but I will only get it when I have WiFi. You can also Skype me any time, my Skype name is Wingspanolson!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waiting waiting waiting....

Well today is the day! No one ever knows what time to really get to the airport. You can be on the risky side and get there an hour to a hour and a half and not waste any time or... You can be like me who never wants to be late for anything... Since that is the case I'm two hours before my flight leaves and I'm already at the gate! Oh well, maybe I can work my magic and get an exit row seat before they do something that no one understands and give the exit row to someone that is only five feet tall!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Less Then A Week!


Wow! It is crazy that in a week from today I will be in Rome! I have all my bags packed! Today I have completed my first term for the masters program. I didn't want to get too excited before I was fully done with this semester! But now that I am done....

YAHOOOOO!!!!!

Three years ago when I was in Rome with my pilgrimage I claimed that I will be back to Rome the summer after I graduate... Done!   I have found out that the hostel that I am staying in Rome, every night they serve free pizza... PERFECT! I am so excited to see the difference between the school system here and in Lithuania. Also, I am excited to see the different culture and enjoy a different pace of life!

If you would like to contact me while I am in Europe, of course you can comment on any of these posts! I will still have Internet access so you can E-mail me at Olson.Jeffrey.R@Gmail.com. I have a WiFi texting number - (325) 203-5211, so you can text me whenever you want but I will only get it when I have WiFi. You can also Skype me any time, my Skype name is Wingspanolson!

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