Emilia, Lithuania

I’m turning 20 this year, which is crazy because I still feel like I’m 16. You know when you are 14-15 years old and think that you'll be married with kids in your 20s. To think about yourself in the future is so crazy, like it was so far away.

I am a song-writing student (that was kind of a decision overnight). I didn’t know what to do with my life and then the pandemic hit, and I just didn’t want to stay here. I wanted to see the world. All these questions and feelings started to appear like “I still don’t know what I want to do” and “am I in the right place?”, but it was exciting at the same time. I was in London for 5 months last year. Came back home in January, because the situation was bad there. I wanted to come here just for the holidays but there was no point in going back. Suddenly they were like “you are not going back to campus, and you are not coming back to talk to people”. Like, are you kidding me? You know, I kind of spent my New Year’s Eve in my room with champagne bottles screaming “Happy New Year!” and looking at the people gathering outside and thinking “I’m not going down there”. You still have to be careful you know? for your parents. 

Now I’m back home and it’s been really nice. I didn’t realize how much I missed my mom’s food. I’m the only child of my mom. The story with my dad is a whole different story. I actually met my sister in London for the first time. She is 33. I’ve met her before, but I was a kid. Now’s different. Now we have something to talk about. It was nice to have someone that I could talk to, even though I never even met her before. But yeah, I’m much closer to my mom’s side of the family.

Right now, I’m doing the course online. It’s kind of crazy cause you have assignments from these classes, and you are just like “okay, this is what I got to do, I have to do it” and you just have to push through. I’m just pushing through. I mean, it’s a different way of learning, but I think it has to do more but I think it has to do more with learning how to work with yourself, rather than relying on what other people teaches you.

Back in London, the capital is a bit more restricted. When I moved in, I was like “my city is not a city”. We have only one train that goes to one town and that’s it. Here there are restrictions but just to wear a mask everywhere.

There was one point during the second wave back there when I was so scared for everybody, because my friend had it [corona] and then her family, and then my other friend, and then her mom (…). The thing is that in Lithuania I didn’t take many measures at first. Last summer we had all these events going on and everything was fine. It was when people started to go back to school when the numbers started to raise again. It was kind of bad even though it’s a small country.

I live 5 min away from the border of Latvia. This is a funny story. In Lithuania alcoholism is a big problem, so alcohol is very restricted. I wouldn’t say I drink a lot, I’m not an alcoholic and my family is quite fine but yeah, it's quite a big thing here. Maybe it is because we were part of the Soviet Union. Anyway, I’m not sure about that story. So, we live next to Latvia and there alchohol is not restricted. You can buy alcohol when you are 18, so we used to go to parties there and that’s how we used to live. You know, to live in this town so close to Latvia, and there’s this little gap and then everybody gets what they want. That was pretty much it.

I guess the most difficult part of living in another country was to live alone. I realized how much I depended on my mom and I felt like I needed to learn how to survive by myself. This whole pandemic has been very eye-opening. How many things I don’t know about myself and how many things I still have to work in? It was so weird because it all happened so fast, and it’s been happening for like a long time. But the effect of it and how it happened, it felt like we were in this time machine where time is passing by and I don’t have my shit together. You know, the world is ending, and you just have to get your stuff done.

To be honest, I don’t think I would have been in London if it wasn’t for the pandemic and I’m very glad that I took the chance. I’ve learned more about myself during the pandemic than in my whole life. Cause we don’t pay that much attention, you know? We are always in a rush, but we have to take a step back and see what’s really going on. Now I look back at my school days and I think that I should’ve appreciated it more. I’m not even old yet. That’s what people say in their 30s. Things like “you should appreciate High School” “you don’t have to worry about anything”, and then you leave school and suddenly you realize you can’t go back.

Once the pandemic is over...? I just hope to have normal things. I want the studying experience. To go out and meet new people. Obviously, I would’ve stayed in London if I could have. I was just excited because me and my friends were planning to get a place for ourselves. We would’ve given each other company. At least then I wouldn’t have been completely alone in a city that I don’t know.

I just hope we can get to a new kind of normal, to survive this. I feel like I’m no longer that little girl who thought that the world is beautiful and nice. Now it is kind of like “wait, some people are kind of horrible and we live among them” and that is kind of scary. But this is our world, and this is how it is.