For the last year Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) Communication Institute Lecturer Dr. Isabel Palomo Dominguez from Spain has been living with her husband and two young children in Vilnius. She says that despite the cold weather during winter months, she has discovered that Lithuanians are warm-hearted. She has found a new job at MRU, new friends and learned how to make the famous cold beet soup “šaltibarščiai“, which she said her family loves. She agreed to discuss her life in Lithuania‘s capital and some of her experiences.
-Why did you come to Vilnius?
I had an advertising company in Seville. I was also teaching at the San Isidoro University Center. We had already lived abroad in Libya. But, my family was looking for an immersive experience in an European country. Someone recommended Lithuania. We began to read and find out more and liked what we saw.
-Why settle down in Lithuania?
We had different opportunities to have an international experience. Some people recommended Lithuania as a peaceful country and a good place to live. We thought it could be a nice experience for our family and it is. I am lecturing at MRU where I conduct research and present lectures on “Digital Marketing.“ My family and I are happy here and have adjusted to life in Vilnius.
-You mentioned you lived in Libya, your homeland is Spain, but now you live in Lithuania. How do these countries differ?
Before living in Vilnius, we had lived in Libya. It was shocking for me the difference in culture and traditions. If I can compare myself to Libyan people, I feel that I am closer to Lithuanian people culturally. In Libya it was so different that sometimes it was shocking. But overall living in Libya was an enriching, though unusual, experience. We don‘t see too many differences between Lithuania and Spain. We don‘t feel like tourists or foreigners here in Vilnius. We have started to make friends here and settled down so to speak.
-How about your children? Have they adjusted?
My children attend the French School and are discovering new cultures, a new language and making friends. When we try to speak to them in English, they ask us to speak only in Spanish at home. My husband and I are very proud of how well our two children have adjusted.
-But you must miss Spain and your home?
Of course, I do. But in my home in Seville I feel colder than here because I have no heating in the house there. What I miss most is my family back in Spain – especially my mother, but we talk by phone a lot. Also, I miss the seafood that is so plentiful back home. In Spain, we are surrounded by the sea. I miss having fish, -no matter what kind or what size. I just enjoy seafood. Spain is our home and will always be home. We are making the most of our Lithuanian experience for now.
-What differences – from Spain, do you notice here in Vilnius?
When I meet someone for the first time in Lithuania, I am not sure how to act. Here I wait until someone extends their hand to shake it. In Spain, we just kiss as a greeting. Another thing is I never know when a conversation is finishing here. I wait for some cue from the speaker, the native Lithuanian. I also admire the fact that you are very sporty, athletic people. During the winter, you can see people running along the river through the snow. I think despite some differences, all is well. If you are not going to make the most of the differences, then stay at home and watch „Netflix.“
-What are your plans for the future?
Our expectation is to be here for a long time. We have a plan to stay here longer. We are happy here.