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Preparing for the future

English is not as widely spoken in Lithuania as it is in Ireland. Which is logical, but not always convenient for my project. I am speaking to fewer people here, and consequently try to obtain more information per single person. Today, I am trying to find out how the Lithuanian educational system is roughly set up.

Posted by Bruno

Road@Safety.LT

Lithuania does not have the best possible reputation for traffic safety. Out of all European countries, it registers the highest number of fatal traffic accidents per capita per year. Other European nations even fear Lithuanian drivers on their roads as the drivers are said to export the problem along with them. Unlike the drivers, the roads in Lithuania are claimed to be able to `compete with the best in Western European` and Lada cars have largely been replaced by a more modern fleet of Volkswagens and Audis. So, what is still going wrong?

Posted by Bruno

Lithuania has an exciting history and ownership of the territory has shifted in all directions from the 14th century onwards. Many struggles for independence have taken place over the last centuries. Once part of a Polish-Lithuanian Empire, then temporarily independent, subsequently occupied by Russia, then conquered by the Germans, and after World War II, involuntarily included in the Soviet Union. In 1990, it declared independence again and in 2004, it even joined the NATO and the European Union. While Lithuania`s roots go a long way back, it is one of Europe`s youngest nation. Today, I am interviewing young people about how much they remember of the separation from the Soviet Union, and which traces were left behind as the Soviet troops withdrew.

Posted by Bruno

Healthcare and Hospitals

Below photo shows Julija (26), a friend of my host Vilda, in a university hospital of Vilnius after she fell on her back earlier on the day during an excursion to the Centre of Europe Park. She got her spinal cord injured and has to stay in hospital for two days. By the time she is allowd to leaves, she will have to wear a corset for a month in order to recover properly. I already planned to write about the healthcare system in Lithuania, but am now using her accident as an introduction to the rest of what I have been finding out.

Posted by Bruno

Mass marriages in Kaunas

Today is my first entire day in Lithuania and it has already become clear that I need other techniques here to collect information. Simply asking questions about topics is not so easy here and even more so than in Ireland, people wonder who you are and where you are from. That may have something to do with the history of eavesdropping, investigation and social infiltration by the KGB, although I have not been able to carefully verify this. What I do know is that I need to have a good excuse to talk to people. While looking for such an excuse in the centre of Kaunas, I walk past the city hall where a mass production of weddings is going on. I am delighted to see so many young and happy people and take my chance to look around and ask questions.

Posted by Bruno

Introduction to Lithuania

Ireland was a great place to start my big trip and travelling around the island was a very pleasant experience. But there`s an end to everything and I am excited to move on to the next country. I have been using most of today to get myself transported to the other side of Europe: Lithuania. I expected to collect my first pieces of information at Dublin airport, from some of the many Lithuanian people who accompanied me on the flight. Intially, I was faced with some plain `no`s` in reply to my question whether they could tell something about their country. Not very promising, but I still managed to speak to four people who provided me with a wealth of facts and figures about Lithuania.

Posted by Bruno

The smoking ban

During the past two weeks, I have come to know the Irish as a people that is weary of rules. At most occasions, they will do whatever lies in their reach to avoid complying with them. I was expecting that they would also have their reserves about the smoking ban. Introduced in 2004, it made Ireland the first country worldwide where smoking was prohibited in public places, including pubs and restaurants. The law was not granted a very warm welcome. Smoking was socially acceptable in Ireland and it remains so in present times. But three years have past since the law was passed and the opinion seems to have turned around in favour of the smoking ban. With similar laws soon to be passed in the rest of Europe, I spent my last day in Ireland finding out about people`s thoughts and comments on the matter.

Posted by Bruno

The Celtic Tiger explained

Over the last 20 years, Ireland has transformed from one of the poorest countries in Western Europe into one of the richest. Most of Ireland`s history has been a story of poverty, with the Potato Famine of the 1840s as a memory which is still today kept alive by the numerous statues in Ireland`s harbour towns. Skinny metal people with sad faces remind people of what Ireland happened in those days. More than a tenth of the population died of hunger, and over a million people emigrated from the island; most of them to the United States. Today, Ireland leads the march in Europe. It is a modern, rich and booming country. The success is attributed to the Celtic Tiger. My question for today: how was the Celtic Tiger created and will it manage to stay around?

Posted by Bruno

After a quick to Northern Ireland, I am now back in the Republic. In Dublin to be more precise. It is the first capital city on my trip and the number of people in the streets amazes me. Contrary to the rest of Ireland, I see people from all over the world. I wonder if their experience with the Irish is in any way similar to mine, leading me to the question: how do people from outside Ireland feel and think about the Irish?

Posted by Bruno

Tourism in Londonderry

Londonderry is a city different from all others and it also attracts an atypical audience. No bus loads of Japanese people here and no Indians playing pan flutes. There are no obvious tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower or the Big Ben. But tourists still find their way to Derry and the youth hostel I am staying in, is fully booked on almost every day during summer. I am wondering what drives people to Derry and find myself chasing tourists in the streets.

Posted by Bruno