Lithuania is one of the most interesting countries around the world for me. The country became one of the EU members in 2004 but until getting this status the country had been tossed by the waves of times. Especially the twentieth century was the hardest time for it. The country was occupied and dominated by Russia and German Nazis in turn. It was in 1991 the country regained independency after being forced to be a part of the USSR for nearly half a century. The independence cost 14 lives of unarmed civilians who were killed by the Russian army, while other Baltic States as Estonia and Latvia could become independent with leaving none dead. When it happened I was a high school student and was watching what was happening in the far western part of the Soviet Union on TV-news. That was the first time that I heard of the name of Lithuania. Probably since then I have been keeping something about Lithuania somewhere in my mind.
At that time the world was at the end of the so called Cold War
between the Soviet Union and the USA, and the whole Eastern world was still behind the iron curtain, though it had been becoming open little by little by glasnost
policy which was started by the then Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev during the1980s. The information of those countries behind the curtain was so scarce and it was hard to know how ordinary people were living. It is in my nature to be curious more about something especially when it’s hidden. I thought I would read Russian at university, but my teacher advised me that there would be no job afterwards even if I study it. I was so realistic and followed his word to change my way to study English and economics instead.
After my studies I started working in Tokyo as a sales representative. My life was nothing related to Russia or it was rather very domestic. Everyday I visited my customers for sales and was out on the town for market research. My only international activities were to travel in the Asian region both privately and on business and exchange letters with friends living in other countries. While I was spending days like this I happened to start exchange letters with two Lithuanian persons. That was the start of my Lithuanian fever. I visited them at the end of 1997 and I totally gave myself up to the Lithuanian people and the country. In September 1998 I was in Vilnius the capital of Lithuania to start studying the Lithuanian language and the culture at Vilnius University for one year.
I would love to write about the past and the present of Lithuania by tying up with my experience in the following chapters.