Tell us a little bit about yourself: what’s your background and what were your reasons for moving to Lithuania?
My name is Ilias and I am a Software Engineer. I currently work as a PHP Developer at Genius Sports here in Vilnius. I am from Greece – I come from Stoupa, a seaside village in the Southern Peloponnesus. I studied Information and Communication Systems Engineering at the University of the Aegean, and then did an MSc in Computer Science at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands. I finished my studies in the Netherlands then had to return to Greece to complete my military service. I started freelancing as a web developer, but before I had decided what my next step would be I met my future wife (who is Lithuanian) and all my plans were cancelled! Before I moved to Lithuania to live I had already been here several times for different amounts of time. Settling here wasn’t a plan, it just happened as I spent more and more time here. I found a good job here so it was easier. In computer science it was quite easy to find work – Vilnius has been a tech hub for the last 10 years.
Did your quality of life change after you moved to Lithuania? In what ways?
I think the quality of life here is pretty high. The city is very green, and it’s a compact city so you can walk in most of the areas. Housing is still affordable and you can make a good living. The city is also very beautiful – there is a lot going on, especially in the summer. You can do a lot of sports and I think it’s a very nice city to live in. Now I have a family here and it’s a really nice place to have a young family.
Tell us about your work. What’s your current job position and how did you find this position? What are your main responsibilities and tasks?
I am currently working as a PHP developer in Genius Sports. I just found it through a simple job ad. I applied and I was accepted. I work as a back-end developer for this platform. It’s quite a big office here, but I work in a small team of 9, and we have a very nice atmosphere in the office. We develop software that handles sports data – these systems help leagues and federations to collect data and transfer and distribute it to the relevant people. I am a big fan of basketball, which is heavily based on statistics, and I follow basketball leagues a lot. So in my work I get to combine two of my biggest interests – software development and sports.
In terms of working life, what are the biggest differences between Lithuania and your home country / other countries you have worked in?
I see a lot of similarities with the Netherlands, where people also respect each others’ working times, and you are given the freedom to work in the best way you can. Specifically compared to Greece, where there is high unemployment at the moment, working times here are better defined and people respect them. I like the fact that in Lithuania they trust you to do your work to the best level you can – there is no strict hierarchy or bossing people around.
What do you get up to outside of work? Tell us about some of your favourite foods/places/things to do in Lithuania?
Outside of work I do sports – I play basketball. In Lithuania it’s very easy to play basketball compared to, say, the Netherlands because it’s not very popular there. I do some swimming, and I also enjoy walking in the city. Outside of Vilnius, Nida is one of my favourite places – it reminds me of my village. Since I came here I started hiking because it is very popular here and there are lots of forests where you can go hiking. I have also started reading more since I moved to Lithuania, and I am enjoying watching movies again, especially during the Vilnius Film Festival Kino Pavasaris.
Tell us one common myth about Lithuania that you’ve discovered is not true since moving here.
I would say the people are not stereotypically northerners – they are closer to southerners, especially when we are playing basketball. I wish I could understand what they are saying. Another thing is that I didn’t expect the quality of life to be so high, because there is this image of Eastern Europe for most people. But here the quality of life is much better than places like London, for example. And I didn’t expect the food to be so good. I really like Šaltibarščiai (cold beetroot soup) and some other dishes, but best of all is sūrelis – sweet curd cheese covered in chocolate with poppy seeds.
For someone moving to Lithuania, the adaptation will be easy, especially if you come from the European Union. There is not much bureaucracy. I certainly don’t regret moving here – here I have my family and the standard of living is very high.