Katya from Belarus is a true citizen of the world. Having spent four years in Budapest in her formative years, she realized that home is not where you were born, it’s where you feel good. And for the last six years, this feel-good place has been Lithuania.
You’ve been here for quite some time now. What was your path to where you are today?
Yeah, it’s been six years already! After living in Hungary as a teenager with my parents, I knew that I wouldn’t want to be tied to just one place or country. After graduating from high school, I came to study Marketing and Global Business at Vilnius University. The studies were in English, and I had the chance to go to Portugal twice – for ERASMUS and to do an internship. Despite that, when deciding where to settle after studies, Vilnius was my first choice. I don’t know, it just felt cosy, plus the culture here is not that distant from what I was used to in Belarus. So, after several months of job hunting, I landed a position at Booking.com. I’ve been working there for the last one and half years.
Are you in the same position as you started?
I started as a CS Partner Specialist, working with accommodation providers on the platform. When an opportunity came to rise to the position of Quality Advisor in the same department, I took it. My team was nothing but helpful and supportive, and the transition was very smooth.
You’ve had quite the international experience in your life. How does the Lithuanian culture compare to what you’ve experienced elsewhere?
One thing about Lithuanians I can say for sure is that they’re open and reachable. If you have some issues – and who doesn’t when moving to a new country! – they’re more than willing to help. And if in other places people tend to be more focused on themselves and their inner circles, Lithuanians are much more communicable.
How are you coping with the quarantine right now?
Well, work-wise not a lot has changed. I do miss spending time with my colleagues, but we still chat and video-call every day. Other than that, I really miss being outside and exercising at the gym. You can only do so much at home, you know? Right now, with all that time on my hands, I’m trying to improve my Lithuanian a little bit. You don’t really need it that much, as all younger people speak English, and older people – Russian. But it’s good to know the language of the country you’re living in. So yeah, I’m putting sticky notes with Lithuanian names on things, and learning five new words every day!
What are the first three things you’ll do once the quarantine is over?
First, I’ll probably go for a loooong walk through one of Vilnius’s parks – just to feel that spring has come. Then I’d stop by some cosy café for a cup of tea. It’s the little things you miss sitting at home, you know? And, of course, then I’d hit the gym for a full-body workout. It’s bound to be crowded, with all the people stretching and lifting after several weeks without exercise!