Friday, July 20, 2012

Museums, and lil' Miss Alysa

The day started off deceiving sunny, but quickly turned into rain.  On the plus side, I really do love to see Vilnius in the rain.  Couple reasons why:

1)  For one thing, it reminds me of Washington (which is always a good thing, and probably one of the top ways to get on my good side)
2)  It rains a lot here. Might as well decide I like it, and avoid being miserable for the next month.
3)  Vilnius just looks beautiful in the rain. 
4)  I've developed a hypothesis - when everyone is soaking wet and equally miserable, they seem to be nicer to each other.  What's the point of being reserved when you look just as much like a wet dog as the lonely old guy sitting next to you?
5)  When it rains, that just means I get to bring out my trust $2 umbrella. That thing is hearty.

This morning did start out eventful though, because we were approved for our VISA! Normally, you can only stay in a European union country for 90 days unless you get a special VISA, which we got today. Now my passport has a shiny brand new VISA in there, complete with grumpy picture. Hurrah.

After we all left the passport office, Dima had some free time and wanted to do something with us, so we ended up driving over to...
I've never actually been to KFC before now (on purpose, might I add), but today I walked away with 3 things:

1)  An Oreo milkshake thingy.  Sometimes, when you're away from America too long, you just need Oreos. You do.
2)  A yummy (and refillable) cup of hot chocolate. Yes, I'm aware I got ice cream and hot chocolate. Yes, I know that makes no sense whatsoever.
3)  A saucy wink from one of the KFC employees.  He was tall, fairly attractive and had all his teeth, so therefore I appreciated the gesture instead of labeling him as creepy.

We even made Dima try some Oreo goodness!  He's never had Oreos before (they don't have them over here, in case you haven't figured out), but seemed to like it! Mission accomplished.

After KFC-ing it up, Dima dropped us off at our apartment where we made plans for the day. On the way home, he even blasted 70's music and laughed as we all sang along to "It's Raining Men".  Good moment. 

Eventually, Elise and I ventured over to the Vilnius National Museum, planning to meet up with the other girls at the National Gallery at 4pm. 
The front of the Vilnius National Museum
The museum itself was interesting, and I loved the chance to see pictures of the city from the early 1900's.  To recognize places I've been, things I've seen, and icons that were present even back then.  As for the Art Gallery, I enjoyed that as well, but had a harder time relating to the paintings and portraits. 

Overall, it's been a great (albeit rainy) day.

For highlights today, I decided to take some time and talk about Alysa.  I was actually hoping to save her profile for a less busy day, because that girl requires a full 2 page blog post just to list off her stories.  I'll try to shorten it up though, and do the best I can :)

Alysa and I (with the ever present photo-bomber, Artur)
For starters, Alysa is the oldest daughter of Dima, our area coordinator for ILP.  She also happens to go to our Lithuanian branch (where we are the primary teachers), stays for the full two class rotations and is therefore at class with us for 5 hours each day, and also pops over to our apartment with Dima sometimes when he gives us Russian lessons. Since this is the case, I think it's safe to say that both Alysa and Sofia (her little sister) have special spots in our hearts, since they've been so involved in our life here. 

1)  First off, Alysa's real name isn't actually Alysa. It's Nikol.  Well, actually it's Николь since that's how you say Nikol in Russian, but that's beside the point. The point is, this girl is hilarious.  She was watching an American movie one day where the main character's name was Alyssa.  She decided she loved it so much, that she declared herself "Alysa" from that day forth.  

Since she signs her name as "Alice" (how you pronounce "Alyssa" in Lithuanian) and all the kids at ILP call her that, I never even considered that people outside of our little school may not know her as that.  This being the case, one day in primary, little Miss Nikol/Alysa signed her name as "Alice" on a picture she drew.  Brigita (the primary president) had a mini panic attack, thinking she had been calling her the wrong name for the past year! Areil reassured her that Nikol really was her name - ILP just does weird things to kids and make them spontaneously change their name. That's all.

2)  On that note, Alysa is a FANTASTIC artist! Dima has a secret penchant for artwork, and actually graduated in such from school.  Alysa definitely picked up this talent from him, and is constantly drawing all the time.  
She's also a good little sculptor, as you can tell from her green unicorn :) (complete with pile of sticks next to it - apparently, that's food)
3)  Alysa has a funny habit - she'll take an entire sheet of paper, and practice writing on it.  That in itself isn't so strange, until you look at the paper and realize there are words written in Russian, Lithuanian and English scattered across the whole page. She's a genius. Slightly.


4)  Did I mention that she won a Jujutsu competition when she was 5? Against all boys? Because she did. 


5) Did I also mention that she once put Janese in a headlock in class?  They were talking about being strong when Alysa waltzes into the middle of the room, and gestures for Janese to come stand by here. Janese was confused why, but walked over, and even bent down when Alysa gestured for her to do so. Once she was in range, Alysa grabbed her in a headlock and held her there for about 15 seconds before she finally let go.  The kids thought it was hilarious :)


6)  While we're on the Alysa-is-a-beast roll, she also did 110 push ups yesterday.  She beat Dima. 


7)  We're not sure where she picked this up from, but Alysa also does a mean Gollum impersonation.  you know this creepy thing he does? 
Minus the screaming part at the end. She doesn't do that. But she definitely has the creepy "My Precious" voice down.  


8)  Alysa loves squirrels. I'm really not sure why since I've really only seen 1 squirrel in Lithuania the whole time I've been here, but she has an obsession with them.  
Look how happy she is with her beanie baby rodent.

I'll admit though -those beanie babies are cute.
9)  She is super bossy.  Super.  Whenever any of the kids in the class are breaking one of the classroom rules (EX: eyes on the teacher, english only, etc.) she'll turn around in her chair and bark out the rule. Whenever she yells "English ONLY!" at one of the Russian speaking kids, I just laugh. 


10)  She loves to snuggle.  When we're getting her snack, eating dinner at her house or whatever, she'll always climb up on our laps and snuggle.


11)  She gets SUPER into the activities we do in class.  For example:
It's hilarious.  Really.
12)  She watches "My Little Pony".  In Spanish.  She doesn't speak Spanish. 


13)  Did I mention she LOVES "My Little Pony"? A lot?
Thanks to her, I know can name off about 8 different ponies.  Rainbow Dash is her favorite. Personally, I like Apple Jack. Though Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie are pretty great too.
 14)  She is SUCH a good sister to Sofia.  Though they may not always get along, they are so good about sharing things, and watching out for each other.  It's precious to watch Alysa zip up Sofia's jacket for her or get a token bag for her when they walk in. 
Also, together, they form an unbeatable team when it comes to fruit ninja. Trust me. I've tried to beat their record. I can't.
15)  She's such a good friend.  There are a couple kids in the classes that Alysa has really latched onto and loves, and man... does she love them.  She always tackles Danielle when she gets to class, and will shower her friends with praise.  She's sweet that way. 
She loves Artur :)
Basically, Alysa is simply wonderful and I LOVE that girl.  She always makes me laugh, picks the same orange token bag everyday, helps me clean up, and is my police officer when the kids are being crazy in class.  She gives the best hugs, makes the exact same faces as Dima (seriously, they look SO much alike) and can eat apple slices like nobody's business. 
Making a Unicorn.  The things "My Little Pony" does to children. Sigh.
When I think of my time here in Lithuania, I will always think of Alysa. She alone has made my experience coming here worth it :)

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