How Swedish and Norwegian IT specialists made Kaunas their own

21/08/2019

"Are you ready for an adventure?" asked the job ad that caught the eye of Simon from Norway just over six months ago. One year contract at the international IT company Centric in Kaunas attracted not only him but other young colleagues from Norway and Sweden. Today, having spent a few months in Lithuania, all four of them already feel like at home and share their impressions of an adventure that has brought them to a land they did not know much about.

Simon Ruud and Emil Hustvedt, who completed their IT studies at a higher education institution, as it is common in Norway, spent two years working in a local government office. When looking for further career opportunities and stumbling upon a job ad that offered a one year contract at the international IT company Centric in Lithuania, Simon did not hesitate to send his CV. "Soon I was invited for a job interview where I was asked whether I would be ready to move to Lithuania for a whole year - not just to a new city but to a new country, different culture and life - and I instantly said yes. True, my spontaneous answer was not enough, I was given some time to think, maybe change my mind and confirm my decision. Not only did I not change my mind, but I also suggested my future employers hire my buddy Emil. That is how we both found ourselves here in Kaunas," remembers Simon from Norway, who is always in good spirits and does not lack optimism.

Lessons on Lithuanian word formation

When trying to remember what they knew about Lithuania and Kaunas before arriving, young Norwegians shrug. "To be honest, I did not even know what language you speak. Lithuanian? Does such language exist? Oh, how cool!" Emil smiles.

So, the first acquaintance with the future workplace and residence started by browsing Google Street View.

“I entered the address of my future employer Centric IT Solutions Lithuania, and when I saw the building of Kauno Dokas Business Center, I was very pleased - it is impressive! Then I looked at the area of our future residence and I was also happy with what I saw. And things were even better when we arrived," Emil says. Recalling his first days in Kaunas, Simon first mentions local people who turned out to be much more pleasant than he expected, not refusing to help with translation or other things.

"Now, having lived in Lithuania for three months, I know where to find everything I need - from services to products, I even learned some Lithuanian keywords. Well, life is also made easier by the fact that we suddenly discovered that many Norwegian words resemble Lithuanian ones, for example, a cucumber - agurkas in Lithuanian, is agurk in Norwegian. So sometimes, when we want to say something in Lithuanian, we simply try to add the ending "as" to Norwegian words and hope that it will make sense and sometimes we succeed," the Norwegian laughs.

Experiences that nurture professional and personal qualities

Simon and Emil, who use Norwegian and English languages while working in Kaunas, say that their current work at Centric IT Solutions Lithuania is attractive because of its internationality and opportunities for improvement. "The company makes sure we improve not only as specialists but also as people. The work I do, though similar to the one I did in the Norwegian public sector, is somewhat different. I work with private clients and different support systems. As work load subsides (for example, in the summer, when everyone is on holiday), we try to study as much as possible, enriching our knowledge and skills," Emil says.

"I do not exaggerate when I say that Centric has opened up a lot of new experiences for me, and my commitment to living and working in Lithuania will provide me with more flexibility and courage to make similar decisions in the future, perhaps to remain in Lithuania for longer than the year agreed or move to other countries that have the subdivisions of Centric," Simon claims.

Fears were eliminated by smooth settling in

Meanwhile, Leon Corbally and Alexander Lundqvist, who came to Lithuania for a year from the Swedish capital of Stockholm, chose to work in Kaunas driven by different motives. For Leon, this is the first job after graduation and the first independent living experience while Alexander decided to step back to a more junior role, in order to be able to work abroad and join a strong team of Centric IT engineers in the future.

"What was my first reaction when I learned that I will work in Lithuania? I asked when can I start," Leon laughs remembering the beginning. "I had enough of the studies and really wanted to test myself in the labor market. Of course, it was a bit scary to move to another country, start a new job and get used to a new life but the environment, both at the company and in Kaunas was very warm and welcoming, so my fears quickly dissipated. I was promised a comfortable working and living environment - and that is what I got in every sense. From housing, travel, to the tasks at work. We got settled just a few kilometers from the office, which is extremely close in comparison to the distances in Stockholm. Right now, it is all very interesting to me, I like everything and I enjoy the independence and the sense of freedom."

Alexander, who has long dreamed of working abroad, says that the job offer in Lithuania attracted him with career opportunities towards which he is currently working. "Until then I hadn't heard anything about Lithuania. I had once visited Riga in Latvia but Lithuania was still a gray area to me. Even after googling Kaunas I found only several images of the Old Town. So, my decision looked more and more like an adventure. But the doubts were dissipated by Centric's care: accommodation, transport - everything was planned and booked, so I felt they had my back and I could safely move to a foreign country," Alexander says. He is currently working with Swedish clients in Swedish and English languages and has learned few Lithuanian words necessary for everyday life in Lithuania.

Delighted by the climate and the comfortable city

"Labas rytas, kaip sekasi, gerai, o tu?, iki, dėkui, " the Swedes list the expressions learned during their first months in Lithuania admitting that they do not dear to start a conversation in Lithuanian but always try to at least say their thank you in the local language.

"Although at first, I thought that Kaunas was nearly a village, after seeing the photographs of the office I realized that such a modern building could not be located somewhere in the countryside, there should be some civilization here," Alexander laughs. "When I arrived, I saw a beautiful, cozy city full of nice people. Well, maybe only the food in restaurants could be served quicker (waiting for food in a cafe for 45 minutes?! We Swedes may be relaxed but not when we are hungry).

When asked what he expects and how he imagines the rest of his time in Kaunas, Alexander confesses that sometimes he catches himself thinking about how will he return to Sweden? "I really like your climate (warmer and more pleasant than Swedish), an extremely cozy city, I can reach any destination in Kaunas quite quickly, and living is not expensive. Yes, life here is good, easy, and comfortable. I would easily consider starting my life here and continuing my career in Lithuania."

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