Where are you originally from and what is your background?
I’m from the Netherlands. My background is mainly in IT and robotics: I studied Computer Science back home, and then Robotics in Denmark.
And what do you miss most about home?
Obviously, my friends and family. I would also say I miss certain food products – I enjoy cured cheeses, which are a bit harder to find here in Lithuania.
What was the main reason why you choose to move to Lithuania?
Firstly, I have a Lithuanian girlfriend. I had the opportunity to help to rebuild her parents’ agriculture business here. In addition, the IT sector in Lithuania is very strong, so that was another strong push towards making the final decision to move here. In the end, Lithuania is an energetic, up-and-coming country with many opportunities on offer.
Did you have any big surprises after moving here?
Actually, I didn’t know that much about Eastern Europe, and I had only visited Lithuania as a holiday destination once before. So, when I came here to live the mentality did surprise me a bit – Lithuanians are very friendly towards foreigners, although they also have a completely different, exotic, non-Western way of thinking, and it took some time for me to get to know them. I am talking about personal expectations, ambitions, human interaction, these kinds of things. However, it definitely didn’t shock me, I got used to it rather quickly.
Did your quality of life change after moving here?
No. Sure, you will probably make a bit less money here working in IT than you would in the USA or even the Netherlands, but then everything is much more affordable in Lithuania, so there is a balance. I have maintained the same standard of living – I have a good job, and I am truly thankful to Telesoftas for giving me this opportunity to work at a solid international company.
What is your current job position?
I am a software developer.
What recent achievement or project are you most proud of?
Three months ago we started a new project for a customer, which means I am now building software for some of the biggest telecom providers in the world. It enables them to monitor their networks. This is a new method of monitoring networks, and I am proud to say that I have built this project from the ground up. It will be going live very soon, and it will monitor around 750 million phone subscriptions worldwide.
Also, I was recently invited to the Dutch-Lithuanian energy forum, where I met Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania, and Willem-Alexander, the King of the Netherlands!
Was it hard to find this job?
No, not really. There are loads of IT opportunities here, and Telesoftas was not even the first company I had an interview with. It took me about two months to find this position – Telesoftas just seemed like it had a good vibe as well as a team of professional people, and I could stay here in Kaunas without having to go to Vilnius or another city to work.
What are the biggest work-related differences between Lithuania and the Netherlands?
I work in IT, so it is actually all very similar in almost any country. In fact, one of the main differences is lunch! People in Lithuania eat a very substantial lunch, and it’s a big deal here time-wise. Folks back home tend to eat a sandwich or two at lunchtime and consider dinner to be the biggest and most important meal of the day.
Leisure time here and in the Netherlands. What are the strengths of Lithuania?
The amount of nature and its accessibility, of course. You have a lot of it here and it is very easy to reach. You can go not even ten kilometers from the centre of Kaunas and find yourself in the middle of a real forest – that would be impossible in Rotterdam, for example.
Another difference related to leisure time is that Lithuanians tend to spend more time with each other at someone’s home – at house parties, dinners, and so on. This is not the case in the Netherlands, where most people are used to just going out all the time. Maybe we have smaller apartments back home since there are so many people living in the cities …
Which common stereotypes about Lithuania are not true?
Well, Lithuania is indeed very welcoming to foreigners – no one treats me badly because “I took someone’s job” or anything like that. There is still a stereotype out there that Lithuanians speak Russian, that the English level isn’t very high, that the quality of life isn’t very good, none of which is true at all. Everyone was very kind to me when I moved here, and even older generations are always trying to do their very best to speak English with me. This does not happen that much in Western Europe – if a middle-aged or older person does not speak English well, he or she typically will not even try to talk to you, they might even ignore you.
“I don’t know whether I should go to Lithuania.” What would you say to someone with doubts about coming here?
I would say that he or she should definitely visit – they could come here for a holiday, on Erasmus, or for a year or two. But if that person is considering moving and settling here long term, I would advise them to carefully think about it, just like settling anywhere new for that matter. You have to pick the right place for yourself that will work for you long-term. Lithuania is a growing country, and it is certainly a great spot to flourish. I am happy about my choice to move here, and others should just weigh up their options and personal preferences.
If a friend was about to move to Kaunas, what advice would you share?
First I would say, “why didn’t you tell me that you are moving to Kaunas? That is great!” Secondly, I would tell my friend to invest in a car, because then you are able to easily visit all the nature around the city and further away too. Thirdly, I would calm him or her by emphasising that the worldview here is very similar to the one that people from the Netherlands have – our basic motto is “we don’t talk, we do”. And I notice this here all the time. Finally, be ready to explore everything this destination has to offer, from the museums to the fantastic parks and churches, plus the events and lots more.