I was 9 years old when my father surprised me on a beautiful day in the middle of May. I had just come home from school and there he was on the doorsteps. Both of my parents were living in Iceland at the time, and I was left with my grandmother back in Lithuania while they worked and laid the ground for our new life in Iceland. I was incredibly happy to see him, after many months. I was even more excited a few moments later, and I felt like the happiest kid in the world when he told me that in one week I was moving to Iceland with him.
It's been 20 years since I left my home country Lithuania. A lot has happened in the last 20 years, and few of those experiences have had a major impact on me. For that reason, I would like to share my story and experience, on my first life-changing adventure.
A week after the breaking news, there I was, taking a plane for the first time and super excited to see a new country. I remember that first flight like it was yesterday. We flew with SAS airlines, I even got a pack of cards as a gift on a plane. My excitement was over the moon, to see a new country, a country that I was told was so different from what I was used to. Unfortunately, the landing was not as fun as the flight itself. I had pain in my ears from the air pressure the following few days. However, it did not dull my happiness and excitement.
My relocation was at the beginning of summer vacation, I had the whole summer ahead of me to adjust to a new country. This meant, I went to summer school, to learn Icelandic, where I met my best friend Gintare. We didn't connect at first, but after we did, we were inseparable, and remain friends to this day. I spent a lot of time working with my dad in construction. Yes, I was actually working! I was a kid, so I could not do anything major, but I was working with some minimal tasks and got paid for that. This was my first experience making my own money, at the young age of 9.
I started attending Icelandic school at grade 4 and it was hard for me to integrate. School was quite hard for me as an immigrant, because I was bullied. You see my name in Icelandic means "a bus". So kids thought it was hilarious and were made constantly fun of me. Because of bullying, I had to change schools. I have experienced bullying several times for different reasons. When you are a kid, it can hit you really hard. At a young age it's hard to understand why these things happen, makes you confused, unsure of how to handle it and it can also make you question what is wrong with you. But situations and experiences like these can also make you grow hard skin and learn to stand up for yourself.
At age 11, I got myself a job to deliver newspapers. That job didn't last too long, since I hated waking up early in the morning, and delivering papers in Icelandic winter is especially challenging. Through the years I occasionally worked in constructions with my dad. Just to make some money, and spend it on goodies. It wasn't until I was 13 that I got myself an actual job. My first official job was as a cashier in a grocery store. I have basically worked one way or another ever since, in multiple different jobs. These were the good old times when you could start working at this young age. As immigrants in a foreign country, my parents were working incredibly hard, to be able to provide for us. At a very early age, I understood how hard they worked, and I didn't want to ask them for money. I wanted to earn my own money, so I can buy things I wanted (even though then it was mostly junk food, clothes, and graffiti spray cans).
It took me 2 years to learn Icelandic and a few more to develop my skills and speak like a native Icelander (though, since I live in Norway now my Icelandic skills are getting a bit rusty). It's definitely one of the harder languages to learn. Iceland is the county I call home now. I spent the majority of my life there and my family still lives there. Though I will never be a true Icelander, Iceland is a big part of me. I am forever grateful to my parents for making the decision to move to Iceland. To an island far from everything in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. It was not an easy decision for them, but they were looking for a better life. Through the years I met a bunch of amazing people and made good friends. The country has given me so much and it has been a huge part of shaping me into who I am today.
Hope you enjoyed reading this little story of my first big move.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.