Lithuanians in the UK often read the Lithuanian press (Lithuanian Americans have their own), and post comments in news portals. They are the most 'connected' part of a diaspora which comprises students, young people who move to make quick money or who have fallen in love with life in the UK. Low budget flights (the cheapest one-way can start at 34 euros from London to Vilnius) and EU rights add to the simplicity of the fact that Lithuania is just a few hours away. Most Lithuanians in the UK, unlike perhaps in the US, do not exclude coming back home once their mission – educational or financial - is accomplished.
Dating between Lithuania and UK
Some Lithuanians enjoy life in the UK and stay for longer, like journalist Yulia (pseudonym — Ed.), who moved from Vilnius in 2002. 'I started writing a column for one of Lithuanian newspapers,' she explains. 'Londoner's Diary is about trying to find love in London. Believe me, it's not easy at all. That's how the idea of the female magazine was born.'
The internet boom in Lithuania is reported to have begun around 2005, one year after Lithuania joined the European Union. 'Blogging is still a relatively new trend in Lithuania,' explains Yulia. 'It's not as popular and big as in the UK or USA and so on. Of course we have quite a few blogs about travel, cooking, style and kids. Lithuania is a very reserved nation so it is hard for us to put our life and love on display. That's why we do not have many dating blogs in Lithuania!' With a population of three million, it seems that Lithuania is a country where everyone knows everyone; it's even joked about as being 'the country of brothers-in-law' ('švogerių kraštas').
Lithuanian expats blog to keep in touch
Stories of flirting and dating patterns abroad are very popular and usually make it into national women's magazines. Expats thus stay connected by broadcasting their lifestyle to Lithuanians at home. 'I started blogging after emigration because in the UK my world view expanded, I got an impetus to create,' says UK-based cooking blogger Milda, aka Ziupsnelis druskos ('A Pinch of Salt'). 'The blog occupies the empty space left by the activities I lost when emigrating. I never try to predict the readers' wishes. I write about what interests me and the way I want it. Another main reason for starting the blog was the need to use Lithuanian more often, because I don't in my usual environment. Sometimes it feels I need to search for a word already!'
The latest 'in' thing in Vilnius is the Marks&Spencer food section
'Lithuanian female bloggers do mostly write about cooking,' agrees Dovila, citing the example of popular female blogger, Beata Nicholson, a fellow UK-based resident. 'Beata started her cooking blog couple of years ago and recently published a bestseller with the same name as her blog, Beata's Kitchen ('Beatos Virtuve').' With an online shop set for launch and a chic apron collection in the pipeline, she is as successful as they come.When it comes to cooking, Lithuanians are amazed at how many spices and other things they can find, and how easily they can cook anything they want when in the UK. Indeed, the latest 'in' thing in Vilnius is the Marks&Spencer food section. If Lithuanians have come to dabble in strong loose black tea and various sauces, it has to be down to those who have spent time in the UK who have helped this trend to reach its tipping point - via blogging or otherwise.
Other Lithuanian women bloggers to watch:
From top left to bottom right:
Atvirasgalas ('Open End'), a collective blog of several ladies about women's issues, discrimination, politics, etc
Drugelisdanguje ('Butterfly in the Sky'), creative writing from another Lithuanian emigre in the UK
Jogosmityba, 'yoga cooking' in Lithuanian
Wonderland - cafebabel.com's Vilnius-based blog
Images: main and in-text courtesy of Dovila Ileviciute/ Videos: solidaruslondonas and knygeshe/ both via Youtube