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2019.10.14 17:00

Mexican student dreaming of Europe finds home in Lithuania

LRT.lt 2019.10.14 17:00

Manuel Palacios from Mexico gave up a profitable bakery business in the heart of Mexico City to study and live in Vilnius. Having some German ancestry, he felt the desire to come to Europe.

“I know that there is something here in Europe that is for me. I feel it,“ says the artistic, piano-playing student. He is now pursuing an undergraduate degree in Informatics and Digital Contents at Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, according to Mykolas Romeris University press release.

How did you decide to come study in Lithuania and not in Germany or another Western European country?

I was looking at different websites for universities in Germany, France and Spain. I found nothing much to interest me. Then I noticed this University in Vilnius. I checked the programme. I discovered that I would have a chance to spend a year in South Korea as part of the programme. The timing was right, I didn‘t have to wait a semester or a year to apply. I sent in my documents.

Only then did I start checking out videos on the internet about Vilnius, the city that would become my home.

What did you know about Vilnius before moving here?

I didn‘t know much. I started looking at YouTube videos and wasn‘t expecting really anything. It seemed like a very nice country with very beautiful girls (smiles).

I know it‘s a big challenge, because I don‘t speak the language yet.

So you want to learn Lithuanian?

Of course. I plan to study here for the next several years. I have to learn so much. I also want to live like local people do.

You had a successful bakery business in Mexico City. Wasn‘t it difficult to close it down and move to Europe?

Yes, my bakery was profitable. I worked and managed it for the last two years. I also was a pastry chef.

But I wasn‘t completely happy. I had this desire to come and live in Europe. It was always in the back of my mind. From the age of 20, I always wanted to live in Europe.

I started to save money. I also listened to European jazz music and this also heightened my interest in moving to Europe. I have a lot of vibes that somehow I know this music and it reminded me of something.

But you were born in Mexico City. You surely must miss the food, spices, colours and your family in Mexico?

Yes, I will miss my family – my brother, parents. Mexico as a territory is very beautiful. We have deserts, rain forests, beaches and rivers and lakes.

But there are many things I will not miss. Mexico City is polluted. Often, when people from other cities or countries come to Mexico City, they complain of headaches, sore throat, dry eyes and other health problems due to pollution.

There is also a lot of garbage on the streets in Mexico City, unlike in Vilnius, which is a relatively clean city.

Also, in Mexico City, it is a problem to cross the street because cars do not stop for pedestrians. So you have to be quick and run across the street. In Vilnius, cars have to stop and they do stop for pedestrians. I like this.

Are there other differences you have noticed?

For one, it is easy to get a driver‘s license in Mexico and there are no tests or exams, unlike in Lithuania. That is why people drive so poorly in Mexico.

How old were you when you learned to drive?

I was 15 when my father started to teach me to drive. I got my first car when I was 19.

You mentioned music, your love of jazz. You like to play the piano?

Yes, I play the piano. I have met a fellow student from Ukraine, Max. He plays the the guitar. We are looking for two other musicians and want to start a band and play together. That is the plan.

In November, the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) is celebrated not only in Mexico, but also in Lithuania. In your country it is a big holiday. How do Mexicans remember their deceased loved ones?

Yes, we celebrate for three days beginning on October 31. During this time, we remember the deceased, but also celebrate life. There is much food and yes, we drink alcohol – Tequila and other drinks. My parents traditionally have a party during this time.

How long do you plan to stay?

I hope to live here in Lithuania after I graduate. It depends on whether I can get a job here. I want to start a family and live here. I am happy here.

Somehow, I feel this space, this quiet in Vilnius and Lithuania is good. The vibes are good. You know, I‘m a dreamer. I think, if you don‘t have any dreams, then you don‘t have any goals. As for my fellow Mexicans, I can tell them that Lithuania is beautiful. They simply don‘t know what they are missing.