ciee - council on international educational exchange

Participant Bloggers

What can your story be in the United States?

3 posts categorized "Viktorija Puodziute"


Heart Skipped a Beat

In moments like this I like to close my eyes to feel souls of my beloved floating around me. Even if they are not here my memories are strong enough to make everything look kind of real - touches, smiles, looks, little talks. You know, souls dancing together like in Matisse paiting. Embrassing. Encouraging. Loving. Moments like this...
....Is that incredibly nice day in mid June. There's a little breeze but it's still warm enough to wear a little bright summer dress. Me and my two best friends sitting on a grass surrounded by hundreds of smiling people, smell of weed coming from bohemian hipster companies, enormously high sky, sun setting in the woods, feelings, all sorts of beautiful feelings, god, ain't it just so so good? And then they come to the stage - my favorite band - and everybody stands up and I'm sure hundreds of hearts skipped the beat with the very first guitar tune... Music can heal, can't it?

Ieva, Mantas and me - waiting for the XX in Merriwheather Post Pavilion.
One of these bright moments was also running to hug my mom and dad when they got of the bus coming from the DC airport. And then having them around for the whole 10 days: evenings together, showing around, telling stories, laughing at dad's incapability to fight jetlag, eating without forks in Ethiopian restaurant, riding city bikes at night to see monuments, teaching how to buy a metro ticket, going on a road trip together, gambling in Atlantic City, taking pictures next to the Love sculpture in Philly, trying out my Palaroid camera, getting lost in Times Square... I guess only those two little sweet teardrops running on my moms round cheaks while standing next to the MetOpera building can measure the feeling - just because you are really there -  right in the middle of your dream turning to reality. It actually takes some damn good guts to face it. To live your dream at it's full.  
After a show in the Kennedy Center with Georgetown in a background.

No forks? Feels Etiopian.
Dad feeling American in Philly.
Atlantic City boardwalk.
Manhattan at it's best.
Blogui 5
Oh yes, and that morning, that Sunday morning in April when I was told to wake up too early. "it's your birthday gift, remember?" - I was told. "But my birthday was two days ago" -  I mumbled keeping my eyes closed. "No no, you have to wake up, I promised to make your dreams come true". Damn it!... Only a grumpy moron could refuse offer like that! As I consider myself totally opposite  it took only a few more mumbles for me to get up. We're gonna sleep when we're old, right? My first dream was a cup of coffee - which was certainly easy to come true - for the other one we had to drive a couple of hours down south. There were four of them  - people I love - making a surprise for me and giving me only mysterious smiles when I tried to find out where the hell we were going to.
And that hell... hmm, if hell was like that we all would be sinful bastards. Beautiful, georgeous, breathtaking Shenandoah Mountains with endless horizon and me feeling happy, free, loved.
One interesting fact - we also met a fit, beardy and really friendly hicker who apperantly had been hicking since August starting from Maine where the Mountains begin. Google maps say it's about 538 miles from Portland to DC only. Imagine walking this distance up and down the hill? Imagine the path which might be rocky, uncomfartable, steep and dangerous? Imagine you're all alone with yourself for seven months? I can't. The only thing I can imagine is Baz Luhrmann calming voice: "....the race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself".
The Family.


I'm still having lots of precious moments and they seem to double in summertime. Everybody at my office knows that so - be prepared for big jealousy - I have every second Friday off! How fancy is that to run away from humid as my granpas sauna DC jungle and begin your weekend a bit earlier getting sexy tan in the beach? or to jump spontaneously on the bus to New York? or to have a girls night out with your best friend who flew to America from Zurich? or jump in the pool a block away from your new house?
Yes - a new house. Again. Have you already laughted enough and can read further? I know I should join some sort of "people who like to move out every few months" club and BAFF should probably give me a 'best movers' award but well I've finally found home where I feel safe - and after all I've been through past month (let's not get into details:)) it's finally peaceful and fun! 
Most of my summertime evenings are now spent on the porch in the backyard while having a glass of wine, nice chat, reading poetry or just enjoying a big summer storm. When I skype with my sister I make her wonder if she really hears birds singing around. My friends never skip the invitation to my house whether it's a traditional Lithuanian cold borch tasting, pizza evening, pre-party or afterparty. Everybody loves this place. We lough and cry, we get stupid and open our hearts, we teach my roommate some gentle Lithuanian cursing, we share music, thoughts and jokes. And it's wonderful. Some good times I deserve to have.

Image - Jun 21, 2013 15.11.30

Image - Jun 21, 2013 16.45.34
Ocean City.
Meeting best friend in New York is just crazy. Really.

Camping weekend 
Going for tubing on a school bus!

Photographer Mantas Kubilinskas-9
Enjoying talks on the porch.

Lithuanian cold borsch tasting.

By the way, there was also this kinda life changing moment recently. I was sitting next to the canal in Georgetown crying after a horrible day when this stanger came by asking if I was fine. "I'm ok" - I replied wheaping so after a while he came back and gave me a double chocolate cupcake...
Somehow life here in the States made me believe more in myself. Be more optimistic or just take things as they are. It also made me realize that life is so so so full of heart-skipping-the-beat moments. Your job is to grab them, feel them, embrace them, experience them, and then let them go but never ever forget.
So if you are miserable, if things go wrong, if life gives you lemons, a punch in the face or shows you a middle finger - just look around you and don't worry. Because - believe it or not - there's always gonna be somebody with a cupcake. For you.
Georgetown canal where a cupcake story happened..


Good Friday

I once fell in love with you just because the sky turned from grey into blue…

            There are days that people call bad, and there are days people call good. No one really knows how they come and go, how they change each other making this incredible chain of memories and feelings. And there are also those special days, those incredibly amazing days when nothing extraordinary really happens but… you just fall in love. With your new home, with a boy, with a bright yellow dress, with cold outside and probably mostly with yourself. Again. That marvelous change from grey into blue comes suddenly and unexpected. After the storm.

                Well, sincerely, I had some shitstorm days recently (I apologize for my vocabulary). I remembered Maggie telling us something about that late and nasty “cultural shock’ which sneaks out to your brain and heart knocking you down completely unprepared. Bing bang and here you are sitting with a lemon-sour face and having no freaking idea what happened to the cheer and laughter and ‘ohmygodi’minamerica’ emotion. Furthermore, my ‘cultural shock’ was kinda mixed with a huge homesick feeling (I get emotional before Christmas) which lead me to listening to some neo-folk (!!!???) music at work naively trying to combine Revit training with my precious memories of Vilnius and people in Vilnius (and not only). Do I ever listen to folk music when I’m in Lithuania? No. The only escape from my miserable thoughts was working a lot and working hard so I was more than happy helping everybody in the office and participating in every activity I was offered (FYI I’m not only talking about free-food-drinks Office Holiday Party).

HOK Holiday Party

 HOK Holiday Party

                Most of my dear readers know that I used to work with children back in Lithuania. We had cool workshops on Sundays and a bunch of other activities at schools so when Deadra from human resources suggested me to take a part in We Care event I thought for about, hmm… 1 second. It was a real glittery blast! Literally glittery because our HOK gang (consisting of females only, shame on you men!) were more than prepared to learn kids from Boys and Girls Club how to make tiny shiny X-mas decorations from cookie forms and glitter. My kid was a hero there making a super cute drunk-eye star (see the pic below!). The event took place in Anacostia (which has kinda dangerous reputation) so I won’t go into the details how I went to pick up my new phone afterwards and got lost in a dark empty highway in Landover. Mom, it all went just fine, yes, I promise, I won’t go to any strange places alone again!


                Now with the new phone I look totally stylish and completely fit to American fashion environment as Sunny Sanita to California so I decided not to hide my awesomeness and go with a flow in a Fashion at Work event. Dressed to my best, after some perfect photo smile trainings in front of the mirror, I was more than ready for my 5 min photo shoot. In the end we had some really cool pictures of who we are, how do we look and what do we feel. It was a big work fun again! But probably not as big as our special wellness program trick to replace chairs with gym balls. They say it’s good for your back but to be sincere I think it’s the best for your Pink Floydish brain and butt then they get Comfortably Numb after 8 hours of working. Just bounce a little and you’re happy. Until you’re stupidly moody again!


            Kids, if you see some grey coming, go to eat marshmallows. With hot chocolate. IMMEDIATELY. Don’t wait till your sad and pathetic emotions turn into a head ache and a sore throat the morning after. To get over my miserably, self-pity and a running Niagara falls nose I used the best medicine – cleaning the house, hot shower, beauty procedures, candles,  good talk with my Latvian friend Ieva (the only strong bond with the Baltics so far) and Paolo Conte on YouTube. When you sit at candle lighted home dressed with sleeping pants at 6pm, sipping hot wine time by time, you have a perfect condition for memories to come…

…So you go to New York again. You cook Quesadillas for the trip. You sing 90s songs, clap your hands and sleep within a 5 hour drive. You lose your breath when you see Manhattan for the first time. You lose your breath when you see Manhattan for the second time. You keep losing your breath. You walk a Pitbull Josephine in a Harlem Dog Park. You try to make friends with Josephine when you enter her home with hosts being away. You fail. You give her a whole jar of coconut oil. You still fail. You eat Thanksgiving dinner in Chinatown with Chinese yelling so loud you can’t hear your own thoughts. Dinner is no good. You try not to break your neck starring at skyscrapers in a Holiday empty Wall Street. You go to the rooftop bar. You lose your breath again. You run from the macho hitting on every female on the dance floor. You go to Jane hotel. You talk about Jane hotel. You drink mimosas for breakfast. You sunbathe on a bench in the High Line. You get into the fight with a 15 year old for the ice cream in Chelsea Market. You cheat on cupcakes with Cuban Tres Leches. You grab a beer at Jimmy’s Corner in Times Square. You eat pancakes for breakfast next to the Brooklyn Bridge. You make Instagram pictures. You go to an intellectual date with Solomon. R. Guggenheim, Frank Lloyd Wright and Pablo Picasso at the same time. You accidentally run into your roommate in Central Park. You melt with the crowd in the 5th avenue…

                NYC is just a never ending story from which you would never want to get out. But you have to. DC does look like a cute village afterwards but somehow it starts to feel like home. Especially when you go to your best friend’s building Holiday party where grandpas and grandmas look like stars from old 60’s movies and they dance with blues playing around. Or when you finally start biking to work. Or when you’re making Christmas Eve dinner yourself. Timshel – this is what’s given to us by Lord or whoever you believe in. A right to choose and create our own life, your own home, your own spirit.

sweet fragrance of moon

has brought me to your room

where you walk milky magic

from that ancient gloom

                It’s a good Friday today. Friday before Christmas Holiday. Friday when you take longer lunch in the kitchen having cup of tea with Sam and Jackie. Friday when office closes at 3. Friday when you make DIY Christmas trees and presents for friends. Friday I’m in love. I feel blessed for experiences I had and will have, for my new ‘family’ in the US, for my friends everywhere, for kindness of people, for good words I hear, for my boy and my family. I’ve been loved and this is the best present I could ever had.


Wish you all some shivering feeling inside during Christmas.

Let there be some magic. And the sky mostly blue.


*Title song: CocoRosie – Good Friday


Cure from any kind of sadness

 From Brooklyn

Jane's Carousel

When you're here Josephine...

Tallest building in Manhatten 

 New York style parking

 New York style parking art instalation


Photo 15
Cenral Park!

In Love! 

Pre xmas baltimore
 Pre Xmas in Baltimore

Merry merry
 Merry Christmas! ;)


Sort of Revolution*

So here I was sitting on the grass in front of the National Building Museum with a banana and a donut for lunch when I kinda felt somebody’s watching me. My legs hurt after walking all around the neighborhood searching for that two thousand and something row house where they were having an open house for an available room so I just kept sitting there pretending I’m alone. But there was it! That tiny suspicious squirrel looking at me as I’m an alien landed illegally on its land. We were sitting in that awkward position for about ten minutes till I gave up and walked away leaving the squirrel rule that precious piece of earth I wanted to put my tired butt on.  

Please don’t think I’m afraid of squirrels. I’m really not. They are cute and funny and everything, and they remind me of my rabbit Gringo back at home, but they do rule the DC’s land. And if you walk late in the evening dreaming about cupcakes (oh dear Lord what a piece of heaven!), feet massage, zeppelini, bath with bubbles, boyfriends or whatever – they will definitely ruin this delicate moment by appearing from nowhere and scaring you to death. Until you just get used to it.

Getting used to things is probably one of the most interesting parts of the ‘living in a different country’ experience. Like eating lunch for lunch and for dinner because you can’t handle the portions they give; or that even the smallest cup of coffee fills your body as you have had three of them; or the jumbo slice pizza because big parties must be followed with big junk food absorption (actually a local very good DC band  called Ugly Purple Sweater even has a song for jumbos). I can’t complain – being small this time helps me to save money but sometimes I just loose myself in this enormously big environment (or in the supermarket helplessly trying to choose cereal from thousands of types of them). So this is just the time you change. This is the time you start taking everything as it is.  

Meanwhile changes have become a permanent state and feeling for me. In a little more than a week I’ve changed two neighborhoods, 3 beds and 7 roommates (and this is not the end!). I had to start saying hello to total strangers in the street and do a little chat with everybody I’ve met. I had to take it easy when the bank had sent me all the papers to access a visa card but not a visa card itself. I had to get rid of that jet-lag thing ASAP because waking up at 5am and drinking tons of coffee at 3pm was not cool at all. I had to let people guess where the hell I am from five times per day and stay patient till they list out all the Eastern European countries they could remember. And what a surprise – all these changes were more fun than a torture. I just realized that this is the way you grow up.

Actually going to the office everyday 8-5 feels like a grown up too. Ok, let’s say 8.30-5.30. Unfortunately I’m not a morning bird so after my jet-lag ended I felt a bit sad. You know, running to the bus and eating a messy sandwich at the same time looks ridiculous if you’re a neighbour watching this marvelous scene through the window. Anyway, my co-worker Sam suggested me to stop all these morning routines and just bring that stupid sandwich to work as we have two huge fancy kitchens with coffee machines (yay!) and everything, and sometimes cookies in the morning. Unless I think I’m burning more calories while running and eating at the same time. Doesn’t sound as a bad idea when you live in America, does it?

If we wouldn’t take the morning thing into consideration, I fell in love with my office here. I loved that old warehouse transformation into a shelter for creations to happen. It looks like a little piece of Amsterdam was injected into the DC landscape as we have a canal on one side and the Potomac River on the other. Huge floor to ceiling windows to take a glance to the world (you know, architects sometimes forget that there is so much more than AutoCAD), reddish-brownish bricks contrasting with white shiny kitchen panels and people surrounded by models, sheets of paper, drawings, pencils, books, magazines, posters, stone examples, etc. - oh I could talk forever. I do like that architectural atmosphere: group of people making sketches, discussing, helping each other, making jokes, going to grab some food, having their messy work-spaces, sharing candies, work and ideas. Obviously the office is not really a family like thing but still very cozy considering 100 people working in it. And I had a cake three days in a row – isn’t it the best place? Especially for the very first days…

I’m afraid to sound a bit like Obama’s commercial (FYI: but my first time was great too. I mean my first time living here in the States. My first burger bite was confident - because nothing fell out of it – and I found out that sweet potatoes are even better than my beloved bread snack back in Lithuania (though got to add some more information here – other burger bites were a total disaster J).  My first cupcake made my mouth a total cupcake junkie and I don’t know how I will keep working in Georgetown without spending all my lunch money on the red velvet bakery miracle.  My first flu shot, insisted by my boss, made me dizzy and happy for the rest of the day – wasn’t bad at all.  My first chicken and waffles with honey dressing in Shaw tavern – super strange and super tasty! And – best of all - my first Halloween party ended up meeting my first huge hurricane, or the Frankenstorm, the other day. I’m still figuring it out whether the storm arrived itself as a welcome party for me or we made Sandy to come by dancing all night dressed up like nouns, priests, disco stars, zombies, cats, nerds, doctors, the tomorrow mornings, pirates, lifeguards, skeletons, etc. Probably it was my friend Sam aka Sailor with a hurricane radar picture on his chest showing that he is prepared for any storm to come. Afterwards we were laughing with Katya in Skype praying my goodbye US party would go much milder!

Well in the end all kinds of storms come and go whether they are outside your window or in your heart. It is only the mess they leave behind to care about. Like strange dreams of running late to the plane even if the flight was weeks ago. Or waking up and for the moment not realizing where you are. Or that lump in the throat after the Gospel Holy Mass in St. Augustine church when you just can’t deal with all the sudden emotions you haven’t realized you had. Peace after the storm, I would say. If you are prepared enough – like an American with barrels of water and food for a year – you will be just fine picking up all those shattered feelings to the place they belong. And then you’re yourself again, just not at home.  



*I didn’t know how to title my blog so decided to name every post by my favorite songs.

(Fink - Sort of Revolution)

** All this was actually written almost a month ago. I feel a bit different now. I'll let you now. Later ;)

Adams Morgan. Moving here tomorrow! :)  (Thanks Roderick for the picture)

Brunch after the Holy Mass. Barack Obamlet in menu! (it was before the elections. Can you imagine how popular was that? Espacially in liberal DC)


Oh that child inside... In Washington Zoo!

Typical lunch place in Georgetown. 5 min from my office! Charming

Lunch break. Winter here is coming slowly.

DC landscape

My first home

Arlington Cemetery. Breathtaking!

My favorite house in DC. I call it "Adams Family"!

The one and only - best burger ever.

This is how I work.

This is how I work 2.

This is how I work 3.

The Office.


Halloween 2.

National Gallery of Arts - my first stop. Photo0813
Equal partners play forever.

Thanks for reading! Goodnight ;)