Dabar populiaru
Published: 6 april 2012 09:41

Povilas the wanderer: My place is in Lithuania

Povilas, who is now living in Argentina, is used to moving to a different country every several years.

“Happy 11 March!” a richly low voice reaches me from Buenos Aires. 19-year-old Povilas is graduating from school in Argentina this year. Even though he could pick any of the world's universities for his further studies, he has chosen to return to Lithuania.

Povilas is used to moving to a different country every several years. Belarus, Lithuania, Israel, Argentina – these are places he has called his home at some point in his life. Povilas' dad is a diplomat and the entire family follows wherever he is appointed.

Changes every several years

When Povilas was still a small kid, he and his parents moved to Belarus. He cannot remember much from those years – an eccentric neighbour, grandmother's soup, and almost nothing else. The family later moved back to Vilnius. This is where Povilas' younger sister Adelė was born.

When he was 8, the family moved to live in Israel for 4 years. Povilas well remembers the day he stepped out of the plane. It was hard to breath – he was struck by the Middle Eastern heat.

I think that Lithuanians are advanced enough to teach us well in universities.

When he was a 7th-year secondary school student, Povilas, his parents, and sister came back to Lithuania. He had to repeat 6th at school, as he had some trouble remembering Lithuanian. Everything had almost come back to normal, when, four years later, the family had to resettle in Buenos Aires. Once again, everything went upside down.

“The change was very difficult, it occurred in the middle of my teenage years, I lost all my friends,” Povilas recounts. “But I can say this now: How great that I was given this opportunity. I learned much, it's no longer as hard to say goodbye to people.”

It took four months four Povilas to settle in Argentina. Except for people at school, no one spoke any English. He had to learn Spanish.

Lack of discipline

Povilas' opinion on Argentina is ambivalent: “It seems that it's an entirely different world. People think differently. Lithuanians are withdrawn, while Argentinians are very open. Not very ethical, though. Their behaviour is obscene at times. For instance, teenagers are very naughty. They do not have the European discipline, they do not know good manners. For instance, to open a door for an adult or to give seat to the elderly. On the other hand, Argentinians are very friendly. I will truly miss that. I think I adopted their joy-of-life mentality. These people are not rich, there are many slums, but everyone is surprisingly happy. The problem, though, is that some lack motivation. Argentinians think thus: I'm doing great, I've got all I need. And that's it.”

Povilas is currently in his final year at school and is preparing for exams, leaving little time for his hobbies – traveling, partying, collecting music, and playing basketball. He is doing International Baccalaureate Diploma program which is recognized by many of the World's universities.

“The program is better than an American high school diploma,” Povilas says. “For example, if you want to enter an American college and have an IB diploma, they let you skip the first year and go straight to the second year.”

Plans of studying in Vilnius

This summer, Povilas will have spent three years in Argentina. That is when he is moving again – this time, back to Lithuania. Even though he could pick almost any university in the world that would welcome Povilas, he wants to study economics in Vilnius.

“It's time to come back. During economics classes, I learned a term that made me think: the brain drain. It is used to describe a situation when many people flee their country and intellectual potential moves elsewhere, diminishing the country's productivity. I have been moving like that all my life. It's my chance to finally settle in one place.”

He is particularly interested in one area of economics: marketing. “There's a theory about consumers, on how they respond to advertising, what makes them buy. One can call it psychology of trade. I've dedicated much time to analyze it at school. For example, why does Doctor House use iPhone and not just some other phone? Or why do they often show Apple computers in movies? I'm also interested in international business. I've got friends spread all over the world. Maybe they'll become businesspeople – it would be nice to get in touch with all of them.”

Surprise at young people leaving

Povilas says his choice of coming to study to Lithuania follows from his stubbornness and patriotism. “I've missed it. I feel at home in Lithuania. Whenever I've been, I've felt at a loss. I feel attached to my motherland. I think that Lithuanians are advanced enough to teach us well in universities. I'm surprised that everyone is running away. I've inquired, asked my friend why they want to go to study abroad. I've got an impression that they simply want to travel around and see the world.”

Povilas, meanwhile, does not want to wander the Earth anymore. “The place where you choose to study depends on where you want to live. I want to live in Lithuania, not only study. I feel that my place is where I've spent my childhood and some adolescence. All I have to do now is to settle.”

True patriot

“Do you know a saying: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?” I ask Povilas. “There's a better one: When you're at home, you want to move. When you're on the move, you want to come back,” he replies.

Povilas calls himself a patriot. “I'm very much inspired by the nature and culture of Lithuania. Everything seems familiar. You feel that people understand you. I promote Lithuania to all my friends, telling them various stories. Many say they will definitely come visit. And when Lithuania was hosting a basketball championship, I wore a tri-colour armband. I'm not ashamed of being a Lithuanian. I talk about my country in history classes very often. I did a school project on guerrilla fighters. A teacher even read parts of my essay to the class,” the 19-year-old says proudly and then adds: “The youths that emigrate are not bad. The most important thing is that they reach for their dreams and happiness.”

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