Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lithuanian girl in London

Last week I visited my friend who lives in London. It was my first trip to such a huge city. London was interesting, I had a great time there. So today I will tell you about my feelings and impressions after this trip. Of course, I am not going to describe London. It is not the purpose of my blog! But I can tell you how London is different from Vilnius and how British people seem different from Lithuanians. I would be really grateful to all British for comments about this blog post!

I took a flight to London from Vilnius with Wizzair. It really surprised me that only a few passengers were not Lithuanians. I guess cheap flights do not attract many tourists to Lithuania… Passengers mostly were young Lithuanians living in London and travelling back home to UK after visiting their relatives in Lithuania.

When I got off the plane in London I experienced something I can call… cultural shock. I had been told Luton is a small airport. Well, it was not very big, but the crowds of people were huge! I had to wait in line for about half an hour to have my passport checked at the boarder!

When I got in to my bus to London I was also very surprised. This time by the behavior of the driver. He was nice and helpful! He was joking and laughing. It was something you don’t usually see in Lithuania. British people seem really relaxed and happy. Lithuanians mostly are sad and worried…

At first I was really confused by the system of public transportation in London. But it took me only one day to get used to it. Metro is really a great way to travel in such a big city. In Lithuania we also have discussions if we need metro in Vilnius. After visiting London I can say that metro in Vilnius is a bad idea. Vilnius is small, the amount of passengers is quite small too, so building metro would be waste of money.

Another thing that surprised me in London was prices. They were not as high as I expected. The prices of food in supermarkets are almost the same as in Lithuania. And some products are really cheaper (like cheesecakes and cheddar cheese). My friend lives near the market and I was absolutely amazed by the low prices of fruits and berries there! 2 pineapples for 1 pound! A bowl of cherries for 1 pound! Unbelievable!

And of course, I went shopping in London… I can say that it was the best part of my trip! London really is the best city for shopping! Clothes, shoes, accessories are so nice and really cheaper than in Lithuania! I especially loved shopping in Nothing Hill. Those little boutiques sell such amazing dresses. I could not believe that most of them cost only about 15-20 pounds!

I asked my friend how much money she makes in London. And I tried to count how much time I have to work in Lithuania and how much time she has to work in London to buy a dress, a pineapple or a bowl of cherries. And after I was done counting, I had only one question: where do people in London spend their money??? Main expenses of Lithuanians are food, clothes and utilities. Main expenses of British are… I have no idea. Of course, transport, rent or restaurants are more expensive in London, but still… London made me realize how poor average Lithuanian is.

London was a little different than I expected. Vilnius has a small old town. London does not. It was really very unusual for me that most old building are scattered all over the centre of London and they are surrounded by new modern buildings. It’s very strange to find remains of town wall somewhere between skyscrapers…

Overall London is a beautiful city. The parks are amazing. It’s really fun that so many birds and squirrels live in the parks in the centre of megacity. But London made me feel tired. I am not used to big crowds and hot undergrounds. I am not used to live in a city with so many people of different races and nationalities. I was surprised how many Lithuanians I met in London. It made me think that situation with emigration in Lithuania is even worse than statistics show.

When I got off the plane in almost empty airport of Vilnius I felt like I’m in a small village. It took me only half an hour to get home by a minibus. And I live in the other side of the town than the airport is! It’s good to be home. I missed the quietness of Lithuania. I missed my cat. I also missed the possibility to get away from the city to the calmness of nature in a few minutes. Now I know it is difficult to be alone in a city of 7 millions…


Anonymous said...

How did you find multicultural society so far? Whereabouts in London did you stay? Do you think London is "dirty" compared to Vln?

Agne said...

Multicultural society is unusual to me. I cannot say that I love it. People are strangers to each other. Maybe I just need to get used to it. I stayed near Walthamstow Central. What do you mean "dirty"? :)

Anonymous said...

Hi I am Brit, born in London and I visit Vilnuis often. I find Vilnuis much cheaper than UK, it is a shame that you did not have time to visit the country outside of London. There you would meet real Brits. also the country is very beautiful. when i first came to Vilnuis it was covered in snow and -25 at night (a bit of a shock) Now when i visit it is warmer and i can see more of your country, if i could just learn your language !!. Regards Mark

Agne said...

Hi, Mark.
I thought about visiting the country in Britain, but transport is expensive, so I stayed in London. Anyway, I feel like I still haven't seen so much of London ;)

Anonymous said...

You should have gone to a country side or small town in Britain to have a real impression on UK beautiful landscapes and picturesque villages and houses. Walthamstow is not the part of Ldn you should judge London life-style by. It is pretty much like Zemeji Panerai or so.
Don't trust any brit saying they would want to learn your language.
They say that every time they are abroad in every country to every girl they meet. Politeness made in UK.
Most of them don't speak any other language despite having it at school and university.
Is Palanga or Kretinga worth visiting in July this year.

Agne said...

I stayed in Walthamstow, but I spend all my days in the centre of London.
If you want to visit Lithuanian seaside you should go to Curonian Spit ;)

Lynn said...

A metro for Vilnius? That would be a little excessive as the buses and trams seem to work for the city size. The city is pretty compact and even the outlying areas are not that far away. I remember coming into the city and it was all woods along the road and suddenly the city appeared. There are plenty of other construction projects that would be far more helpful.

As far as your price observations to many foreigners things seem cheap in Lithuania simply because it usually is a little (excepting certain goods like you mentioned which are likely more available locally) but the Lithuanian wage is so much less than that of a Briton or German or American that it makes things much less affordable.

That said, housing in London or most other western cities is far more expensive. And there are certainly other costs that take up much of one's paycheck. But the standard of living is certainly a good bit higher.

However, the food prices you mentioned in UK is decent and is actually a touch cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables are in the US.

I think it is hard to understand a multicultural city unless you are there for awhile. For me, it is strange to be in one place and there not be people of every shade and different languages being spoken on the streets. After awhile it becomes an everyday thing and you think nothing of it all.

It's interesting to see the reverse perspective of someone who is not as used to it seeing it.

Anonymous said...

I am lithuanian girl, living in UK already for one year. I agree with Mark, that reall English spirit you can feel in smaller towns or villages. Walton-on-Thames, where I am living, is quite, safe and lovely little town by the river Thames. Although, sometimes it is too quite for me, so I just take a train and in 45 min I am in London. Very first time for me there also was unusual - huge crowds of ppl and they are never stop moving! Crazy! I love West part and Central London, I got used to these crowds and I miss being a part of them. However, couple times I was in East London, and to be honest, I felt a bit scary and really unsafe there.

Recently, I was in Brighton - LOVED IT! New English experience . It's amazing how you can feel so different in every part of the same country!

Agne, if you visit Britain again someday, you should see and feel the spirit of country side. You will find out, that even such a big country like Britain can also be calm and quite :)

Although, I miss soo much my country, fammily, friend (most of them are still there - strange, hah?), and reall Lithuanian summer -very hot days and rain with thunders at night...mmm...

Lithuania is very nice country, worth to visit! Like every single country all over the world :)


Agne said...

Daiva, thank you for your comment ;)
After visiting London I realized that Lithuanian summer is really great :)
I wanted to go outside London, but prices of transportation were too high for me to travel away from the city. Maybe next time. I believe that England is a very beautiful country. At the moment I have a picture of its landscape on my desktop :)

Anonymous said...

im from ireland, last year i visited lithuania (klaipeda) with my lithuanian boyfriend, comparing klaipeda to belfast i did see a difference in both cities but non the less a nice city, housing was very different and i found i really cool that 4 in the morning we could go into a road side garage and order food and beer lol :) i am 30 years of age and never in my life did i see so much snow for me that was the highlight of my trip, but over all yeah i would advise ppl from ireland or britan to go and see lithuania :)

Andy said...

you should try central England next time... I live in a town outside of fact the airport only 4 miles away and can get flights direct to Kanaus.

Within a few miles you will find Shakespeares birthplace.. Warwick Castle, kenilworth Castle...and lots of countryside and small towns and villages... that is real England...I find London too much.. and for a foreigner I can see it being a bit overwhelming.. so next time try the midlands!!

Ophelia said...

Labas :) I agree that a big difference between British people and a lot of other countries is that British people are so friendly and smiley all the time - but, if you live here longer you can see that this is not so brilliant... People are polite because they have to be, rather than because they actually are interested in what you have to say/feel. I noticed that yes, it is true that the Lithuanians I have met look more reserved, but you also know that when somebody is friendly to you it is genuine. British people have a saying, 'my home is my castle' - that it is really like a fortress. You have to know someone for many, many years before you get the privilege of being invited into their home (even then people are not so hospitable). So everyone is polite, but it is so hard to get beneath this superficial friendliness and to talk about real feelings, issues etc. I suppose every culture has its good and bad points. But because English people are SO polite it can be difficult to talk about certain issues more candidly.

Agne said...

Hi, Ophelia :)
I agree with you! What I love about Lithuanian people is their sincerity.

Anonymous said...

hi i am an Asian guy last month i travel to palanga with my wife. people are good sometime they look at me like i am from different planet. food is really good really peaceful love walking on the palanga beach with my wife and her dog

Adi Adindas said...

Dear Agne

I really like you blog. You are speaking from your heart and have been blatantly honest. I met quite a few Lithuanians here in London; and I an tell you that they are very nice people although they are not as talkative as Brtis.

Now your query regarding, where people in London spend their money, I think you have answered them all. People in London, spend most of their money in public transport and accommodation. For instance, you are talking about the district of Walthamstow/ which is in Zone 3. A monthly travel card in Zone-3 will cost people £131.40 a month. A proper furnished single room apartment in London zone-3 will already cost Londoners about £700 a month. Weekend entertainment will also contribute to significant cost. For instance visiting opera pus drink will cost about £25 a week. Not to mention, the temptation of buying designer items such as those from Hermes Birkin, Louise Vuitton, etc.

Indeed, agricultural product is, dairy products are cheap For instance, dairy product like whole milk, two pints (e.g 2.27 l) l it is relatively easy to get it for £1. It is very cheap is not it? Yes I fully agree. It is the government policy to subsidize the British farmers so they will not extinct in competition with imported agricultural products.

Keep this nice blog … Hope to see you again in your another article