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What can your story be in the United States?

06/09/2016

Living in the Capital of World Politics

If the life gives you a chance – take it. If it changes your life – let it.

Stepping across the Atlantic into a totally different culture can be a challenging, but at the same time, very rewarding experience that develops your personality and broadens your horizons. Almost a year ago, I decided to change my life – to build my professional experience, leave my comfort zone and rediscover the world. And here I am - in a country which, since my arrival here, never ceases to surprise me.

Life in Washington DC is pretty busy and, not to mention, very different from what we are used to seeing in Europe. As a major political stage, it attracts many people from all over the world who make the city so international that sometimes it’s even hard to feel the real American life here.

Washington DC is a very vibrant city, offering you limitless personal and professional possibilities so that it’s hard to know where to begin your journey. I guess there is something for everyone in this city, whether you are looking for intellectual pursuits, leisure time activities or multicultural influences. Career-wise, being here is a unique opportunity as it lets you experience the rhythm of US politics and gain first-hand knowledge of it. And the time couldn’t be better. With a changing security environment in Eastern Europe, NATO reinforcing deterrence on its Eastern flank, the United States increasing its military presence in the Baltic countries, and, on the top of that, the upcoming US presidential elections, the time spent here is an invaluable professional experience. Everyone who has ever studied politics or been involved in it would agree that you cannot get understand it without experiencing it yourself.

I am extremely grateful for the chance to be part of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Centre’s team working with the Transatlantic Security Initiative. The initiative provides the forum to shape and influence debates on the transatlantic security challenges facing NATO and its partners. Working at the Council is extremely rewarding. The daily meetings with security experts and top US and foreign government officials give me an extraordinary opportunity to enhance my knowledge and expand the network needed to work with transatlantic security issues. The biggest highlight of my first month here was meeting former Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Phillip Breedlove. For those who are not familiar with security affairs or NATO, Gen. Breedlove served as the top US and NATO military officer responsible for the conduct of all NATO operations. Furthermore, given the current geopolitical situation, being a Lithuanian in a DC think tank gives me an even greater advantage as Lithuania is getting quite a lot of attention because of the security situation in the Baltics.

IMG_0047

Securing NATO's New Frontiers, Conversation with Gen. P. Breedlove, Atlantic Council

“The world is a book and those, who do not travel read only one page.” Saint Augustin

This is one of the things that make the United States so intriguing. Having lived in one city doesn’t mean you have discovered the whole country. You get the feeling of what life is like here only by traveling. Driving across the country is time-consuming but, at the same time, a fascinating experience letting you discover the diversity of American life. And believe me, this country has a lot of things to offer. No matter where you are, try to travel as much as you can, as it one of the things which definitely will change your impression of American culture and the country itself.

Even though it’s only the second month since I am here, I have had a chance to visit the Shenandoah Mountains, travel across Virginia and South Carolina, do some camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and hike to the Mount Mitchell, which is the highest point east of the Mississippi. The greatness of this country definitely resides in nature, which is really jaw dropping here.

Sunset

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Caroline

The world is really tiny

And it really is. I guess one of the most incredible experiences of moving to another country is meeting new people. What is even more fascinating is when those whom you are meeting have roots coming from your home country! It happened to me here several times, when a person whom I was talking to already knew Lithuania because his/her great grandfather or grandfather came from Lithuania! It just makes you feel that we all are somehow connected.

As this is my first blog post, I will stop here. But I promise to come back soon with more stories as the best is yet to come!

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