Becoming Latvian?

Friday, July 09, 2021

22 days. That’s how many days I have left as an official ESC volunteer at the AFS Latvia Office. A year has almost passed, and oh boy what a year. Lifechanging since day one and an unforgettable experience!

Before coming to Latvia, I had little to no expectations, other than moving here, working with something I had already done for 7 years, and getting to know a new country. I had even planned my return when the year had passed and I was going to move back to Denmark.

I knew very little about Latvia. As an av-geek and former pilot student, I knew Latvia from airBaltic. As a history nerd, I knew about it for their history for the past 120 years or so. As a tourist and AFS volunteer, I knew it after spending 48 hours here, visiting one of my friends who lived here, with several beers, cocktails, and vodka shots in my body for my liver to process.

I remember how I felt when I landed at Riga Airport. When I walked out of the airplane and set foot on the tarmac for the first time, for a split second I was reminded of Neil Armstrong and his first step on the moon. Of course, this was so far from being comparable, but still. I witnessed and unrealistic beauty from the orange night sky, and the happy feeling that raised up in my heart. It was magical.

I was very conscious of the honeymoon phase of every new experience of a new country. Yes, Latvia still felt amazing after the first month had passed, but surely it wouldn’t stay like that forever? When routines, weekly schedules, and the workload became increasingly normal. I was sure at some point it would all become ‘’normal’’.

Yet here we are. 22 days left, no plans to leave Latvia any time soon. I got a new job starting soon, I’m looking at apartments, planning stuff with friends in September, and feeling more at home here than I would ever do if I moved back to Denmark. Had you told me I would feel like this before I arrived, I would have laughed in denial!

Recently I went on holiday to Denmark, and it is very fittingly, the way I described for my family my feelings towards Latvia as a home: ‘’Coming home to Denmark now, is like going to your beach house for the summer. It feels good, familiar, and homely, and you love going. But when it all comes down to it in the end, it not really your real home. Home is where your base is, and my base currently is as Latvian as can be’’. So what now?

Well, I don’t know. All I know is, I have never been happier, and when you love something, don’t let go. I can’t imagine myself moving back to Denmark anytime soon. My future is all about establishing myself in this absolutely amazing country, learn the language, integrate myself as good as possible, and enjoy every single second of it! It’s in no way going to be easy, but so far, I have had amazing support from all my new Latvian friends, and I am sure that everything they have taught me, will stick with me all along.

My year in Latvia has given me more than I could have ever expected. The most amazing home with the most amazing people, having the most incredible culture, and oh my oh my, I am IN LOVE with Latvia. And I am forever grateful for what I have here now!



Author: Alexander William Blomqvist Eliasen

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