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!