American Expat Living in Lithuania - Interview with Elizabeth

Published: 26 Mar at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Lithuania
Elizabeth is a US expat from Connecticut currently living in her second expat city, Vilnius, Lithuania. Elizabeth is enjoying her opportunities traveling Europe and learning about Lithuanian culture. Her first expat experience was in Asia, which fueled her wanderlust to make her move again. From 2010 - 2012 she spent a total of a year and a half living and conducting research (she is a botanist) in Yunnan Province, China. In China she made Kunming her home base, but traveled all over the north west of the province. In between her time in China and Vilnius she lived and studied in Madison, Wisconsin. Elizabeth loves traveling, learning about cultures, reading, and trying new food in each country she visits. She particularly loves spicy food! Elizabeth's expat blog is called Wanderlust (see listing here)

Elizabeth kayaking in Vilnius
Elizabeth kayaking in Vilnius

Here's the interview with Elizabeth...

Where are you originally from?
I'm originally from northeastern Connecticut. I grew up loving the forests and the beaches near where I grew up, and it is still one of the best places to go for a visit!

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm currently living in Vilnius, Lithuania.

How long have you lived in Lithuania and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been living in Vilnius for about 7 months now and depending on job opportunities I'll be here for a total of 2 years.

Mermaid of Uzupis
Mermaid of Uzupis
Why did you move to Lithuania and what do you do?
I moved to Vilnius with my husband for his job. I'm currently finishing my PhD remotely, while living in Vilnius. I'm still looking for jobs in Vilnius for myself for the next academic year. It is much harder to find jobs here than I thought but I'm sure there are some prospects out there.

Did you bring family with you?
I guess in this case my husband brought me with him!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I've had two expat experiences. One in Kunming, China on my own for my work, and Vilnius, Lithuania for my husband's job. I found the transition to Kunming to be much easier than my transition to Vilnius. This is probably because I was actively meeting people through work and I spoke the language. People in south China are also really friendly.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It has been a bit tricky to make friends during this expat move. As I started mentioning in the above question, I found making friends in Kunming to be much easier than in Vilnius. In Kunming, the majority of my friends were locals and I even lived with 4 'Kunmingers' who have become my best friends. In Vilnius, I've made a few friends with my husband's coworkers (expats) and have met a few other Lithuanians through editing papers written in English.

Vilnius Old Town
Vilnius Old Town
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
The Old Town of Vilnius is beautiful and packed with great restaurants, shopping, and beautiful architecture. Visit Uzupis, a Republic of Vilnius, for a cool art scene, great food, and the best coffee shops.

What do you enjoy most about living in Lithuania?
I enjoy the opportunities that living in Europe has for travel. Experiencing the world through travel is what I'm all about.

How does the cost of living in Lithuania compare to home?
Living in Vilnius is pretty comparable to living at home. The food is a little bit cheaper, however apartment heating can really make up for that difference.

Vodka ice cream
Vodka ice cream
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Lithuania?
Lithuania gained its independence relatively recently and that is evident by the lack of access to anything that isn't Lithuanian. Imported food, ethnic restaurants, and books in other languages are hard to come by. The Vilnius airport is also small and hard to find convenient and cheap flights to other European countries.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Lithuania, what would it be?
Learning a bit of Lithuanian will help your transition immensely!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Employment for both my husband and I has been the hardest experience. Be sure to fully research the position you accept before deciding to move to Lithuania.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I've lived abroad before so I'm pretty sure the repatriation will be fine. I guess I'm not concerned about this at all.

The Hill of Three Crosses in Vilnius
The Hill of Three Crosses in Vilnius
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Thinking about your objective for living abroad. For example, a job, travel, cultural exchange etc. If it is for travel make sure you are living in a country that it is easy to get to and from. If it is for your job be sure to carefully research that job and talk to people who are working in the company.
  2. Not all places are like this, but in Lithuania it is difficult to get books written in English. If you love to read bring enough books or an e-reader.
  3. If you are having one days that feels like everything is going wrong, think of it as an opportunity to go sample the beers of your new expat home!
  4. When looking for apartments abroad do your own research and don't always take what your job offers. Email the local real estate office and do some of the searching yourself.
  5. Learn the visa and working requirements inside and out.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
On Wanderlust I share my travel adventures, mishaps, and expat life in Vilnius. Wanderlust is a blog for people interested in experiencing the world through travel, food, and cultural exchange. Look to Wanderlust for up to date tips about trip planning, honest reviews, restaurants, shopping, sight- seeing, and getting off of the beaten path.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Via my blog.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingElizabeth is an American expat living in Lithuania. Blog description: Welcome to Wanderlust, a blog where we provide travel information to the nomad who wants to blend in with the locals.
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