1. PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION
I am .... ......, I am from Kaunas, my address is Baltijos seventy-nine, flat nine, I was born on the .....th of ...... in Kaunas, thus I am nineteen now. I am male, and still single as I think I am not mature enough to marry. Thus, I have no children. I am Lithuanian, and of course I am a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania. My parents are administrative employees of the Municipality, but I am still unemployed as I suppose I have to get a university degree first. I am going to be a management specialist, but that is not sure as you can never tell what may happen in the nearest future. At least, I am willing to study managerial sciences. Nominally, the majority of the population of Lithuania are Roman Catholics, but to the best of my knowledge churches are usually empty. I declare nothing; I believe that God exists, but I do not think that any religion miight understand the mystery of God. There are other interests in my life. First of all, I am keen on driving. I also admire downhill skiing in winter and sailing in summer. I believe everyone should have a hobby in or
2. EDUCATION, SCHOOLING AND LEARNING
It is impossible to imagine life without learning. First of all, we get acquainted to the world by ourselves, and laater, at about seven, we start going to school. There are three stages of secondary education: primary school, basic school and secondary school, and the further you go the more abstract complicated it is. Secondary education is also provided by gymnasiums; these are schools for pupils specializing in a particular field. I am proud that I am studying at Saules Gymnasium which is famous for its traditions in mathematics. After graduating from gymnasiums or secondary schools, most pupils want to en
5. FAUNA AND FLORA; CLIMATE AND WEATHER
I live in Lithuania, which is situated in the central Europe, East of Poland and North-west of Byelorussia. My native town, Kaunas, is located almost in the middle of my country. There are few kinds of large mammals in my country – mostly elk, deer and wild boar. In some forests, some brown beers and lynx may still be found. Of course, there are plenty of smaller predators, such as wolves and foxes in Lithuania. Beavers are still quite common, as well as badgers and hares. The basic kinds of trees are oaks, lindens and birches, there are plenty of ferns in the forests. If you favour fishing, you may go catching pikes and trout. In the Baltic Sea, eels are the favourite species of commercial fishing. On the whole, there is a large variety of fauna and flora in Lithuania, but undoubtedly it cannot compare to the rich kingdom of animals and plants in tropical countries. The climate is moderate here. Summers are quite warm; the averages for July reach some twenty-four degrees centigrade, and the temperature rises up
6. TRAVELLING AND TRANSPORT
The most common way of traveling is commuting. Well, I live in Silainiai but my school is located in Zaliakalnis; that is why I have to go to school and back every day. Almost all people have to commute either by public transport, private cars, or just cover some distances on foot. In the centre of Kaunas there are plenty of tourists these days, and you are often asked the way. I try to be very patient with travelers and to explain them, say, that the Cathedral may be found if you go to the end of this street, then turn left and proceed straight. Public transport is really convenient in Kaunas, there are many routes of busses and trolleys, but some more trolley lines are necessary, for example, there should be a trolley line to Silainiai. Tickets in Lithuania may be purchases either in kiosks or on the bus. For intercity communications, you can buy tickets in advance or buy them on the bus as well. Coaches are quite modern and convenient, but trains are mostly uncomfortable and extremely cold in winter. When going abroad, we need no visas when traveling to the countries of the western world, but customs offices still exist. However, it is very hard to get visas to the USA, but visas to such countries as Russia, Romania or India are very easy to get; they just cost a lot. I think these countries lose a lot of potential tourists this way. When traveling, I usually have nothing to declare. We still need to exchange currencies, but the Euro is due to come to Lithuania in the nearest future, probably in twenty-oh-seven, and then we will have the same currency as the whole European Community; this will be highly convenient.
3. FOREIGN LANGUAGES
In modern world the distance is nothing and communication is everything. This saying reflects the reality, and as we chat or have businesses with representatives of other nations, we use foreign languages. Most people acquire these skills at school, college or university, and foreign language teaching starts at the age of about eight all around the world. It is not surprising thus that many people are fluent in one or more foreign languages. I usually had three or four lectures a week, and I hope my knowledge is enough to study some subjects in English at university. Hopefully, my knowledge of English will improve in the future. I know that there are some levels of language knowledge: beginner, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate, advanced and mastery. I don’t think that a foreigner might be equal in language skills to a native speaker, but my aim is to become fluent in my professional field as well as in any everyday situation. Apart from English, other languages are also important in modern world, first of all Spanish and French, but in Europe English will do anytime and anywhere. I’m glad there is a universal language. I know that in the European Union, there are language passports showing one’s skills, but I haven’t seen it yet. Our parents were fluent in Russian, and they would get high grades, but this language is of little value in the west. English is spread really widely; it is spoken in Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Australia with some thirty countries having it as the state language,. I’m glad I can speak English.
4. HOUSE AND HOUSING
My home is my fortress, English people like to say. We love our homes because it is the only place we can feel at ease; that is why there is a saying “feel at home”. In Lithuania, most people in cities live in flats, but a large number of people live in private or detached houses. Cottages are common, but no skyscrapers with private houses have been built yet. A flat usually consists of a kitchen, a few sleeping rooms, a sitting room, a hall, and a bathroom with a lavatory. In Lithuania, people tend to have much furniture, but in the west it is common to have wide spaces and few furniture items; the way of furniture arrangement differs as well. There are many home utensils, starting with the vacuum cleaner and dishwasher, and ending with the washing machine. These things do help, but they take so much space that there is a problem as to where to keep them. Of course, they help to tidy the flat, but they really take too much space. After I finish school, I’m not going to study in Kaunas; that is why I shall rent a room. Rooms are charged a lot, but the price is worth the independence and tranquility. Finding a good room in Vilnius is really difficult. When I’m grown-up, I shall have a large detached house with a garden around and a garage under the house. Only modern houses are good, five-storey and nine-storey houses built during the soviet times are worth nothing. In a large house, one can keep a pet, even a large dog and to feel free knowing that no neighbours will have any objections. A new house is great, but one needs to work hard in order to get it.
Although the post is quite outdated these days, but it still sometimes happen to send a letter or a package, or to receive one, and it usually occurs while being away. The problem is that not all locals understand such questions as “I beg you pardon, where is the nearest post office?”; the post office staff does not always speak English, either. Calling from abroad is usually easier, especially if it is possible to use the mobile phone. Unfortunately, sometimes these systems fail, and tourists have to use ordinary phones. The basic problem usually is to find out the international codes. A far more interesting thing happens whenever you call abroad and have to say “I’d like to talk to Mr. X”, but the person you’re talking to understands nothing in English; then you have to repeat the name of the person you’re calling. Sometimes people speak exotic languages when calling your office; then you try to explain that you’re connecting them to the secretary. Telegrams are not written any more, except for formal cases. To the best of my knowledge, Lithuanian Post has closed down this service. I believe, in long-forgotten times they were received in twenty-four hours. Currency exchange is much more common, especially if you have to travel a lot; then “Can I exchange Dollars” is a common question. Sometimes you’re robbed and need to call the police; then you say “This and that was stolen”; the police usually understand but cannot help. A different thing is with medical services. Doctors try to explain you in the local language and show something with fingers, but they do not understand such questions as “What regimes should I keep?”. It happens to call for help, either on the road or in case of fire and so on. In such cases, the most important thing is to talk in common words and terms, and it’s alright; the problem is settled.
Health and hygiene are two of the most important things these days. Formerly, people lived in plain nature and consumed healthy food. Modern people are not fit; that is why their hands and legs, head and feet, stomach and guts, kidneys and lungs ache, and doctors regularly hear “I feel pain in my knees, I have a sore throat” and so on. When traveling, two things are of extreme importance. First of all, health insurance is necessary, because if anything happens, it may cost a fortune. Hygiene matters as well. Travelling by train and by ferry, or even covering long distances by plain, some difficulties concerning having a bath may arise. Then it is important to ask the crew what the possibilities for taking a shower are and whether it is a free service. Accidents in traveling do happen, and it is extremely important to have a note with oneself containing major allergies and constantly used medicine. Mentioning blood group and major personal data would also be useful. If a health problem occurs, it is important to find some clinics or hospital. Phones of ambulances are the same around the world, but some problems may arise because of the knowledge of special terms. Finding a chemist’s is still easier, but some medicine is not sold in particular countries because of licensing. However, there are Internet catalogues, according to which, equivalents may be easily found. Of course, the best thing is to manage without hospitals and chemists’ when abroad as some misunderstandings may occur anytime.
11. FITNESS AND EXPERIENCES
Nowadays many people lead a passive way of life, and, as a result, they have to exercise. People attend various clubs, where they do aerobics or gymnastics and try to build nice bodies on various exercise machines. Apart from that, they do some stretching and track walking. Exercises performed by professional sportsmen vary a lot. They lift weights, they punch, do sit-ups and push-ups. On the whole, they usually need to develop certain muscles, and whereas footballers widely practise running and cycling, motor racers are forbidden to do that and are incited to strengthen shoulder and neck muscles. Many famous sportspeople have personal trainers designing and scheduling their exercises. They regularly consult, and sportsmen get clear instructions as to how to perform various fitness and endurance tests. However, apart from their engagement in sports, professional sportspeople also spend much time in plain nature. They may breathe and savour fresh air, they may dip into the water and experience its freshness, they may touch and feel plants in the wild. They may admire all the variety of colours in the nature. On the whole, life is wonderful if you feel free to feel and experience the world around you.
12. PROFESSION, TRADE, JOB
Profession and job are two of the most important things in everybody’s life. We work for about forty or even forty-five years during the lifetime, and therefore it is important that we should find pleasure in what we do while earning money. Most people do not like their bosses, but they still have to put up with them. Anyway, employers have more rights than employees, and consequently, they are in superior position. It is considered impolite to pose questions concerning somebody’s job or salary, but friends sometimes discuss such things. Unfortunately, people sometimes are fired, but in most cases they get compensations equal to the salary of several months. In such cases, the best thing is to go to the employment agency and see what they may offer according to your skills and experience. They contact potential employers and negotiate with them, and while you are jobless, you still get some subsidy. When starting a new job, it is of importance to find out the major conditions: working hours, wages, precise location of the workplace, rules of holiday taking and so on. After starting a career, everybody wants to get to superior positions and to see possibilities for promotion. That is why many young people join small but rapidly developing companies in order to achieve something serious in a growing business. Making career this way is much easier than getting promoted to the highest ranks in large companies. On the whole, when planning a career, it is very important to consider one’s character and abilities, likes and dislikes in order to take the optimum decision.
13. LEISURE AND SPORTS
Apart from hard work, there are much more pleasant things in everyone’s life. It is first of all leisure and its activities. people prefer different things: some take up sports, others just watch tv, educate themselves go shopping or just do nothing. When people meet for the first time, it is common to enquire about one’s hobbies and preferences. Then the conversation may develop, say, if somebody adores tv shows, it is possible to ask what kind of shows are these, which tv channels are the best and so on. People also discuss favourite sports, and a recent football match, races or athletics competitions may frequently become a topic of harsh debates. People still argue whether it is better to watch sports events live at the stadium or on tv. Of course, tickets do cost and there are no replays, but being present at a sports activity lets us feel the spirit of the game. As a result, the emotions are much stronger. Apart from that, it is also possible to go to the theatre or cinema, but even the best scenarios written by playwrights cannot compare to the live drama sports offer us. All tickets may nowadays be bought without leaving homes, at ticket selling sites on the Internet, and it does make life easier. Some people even go to museums or read various books or papers. Of course, being interested in arts is great, but I think that only artists themselves can experience the power of action and what they want to say. Common observers, no matter how competent they are, would hardly experience anything similar to the ecstasy of having painted a picture or having scored a goal.
14. RELATIONS AND CONTACTS
Every day we communicate with hundreds of people, and our communication skills largely define our positions in society. We talk to bosses and subordinates, friends and enemies, relatives and unknown people. In all cases it is highly important to know what things are expected to be said in a conversation, and how this is to be done. That is why communication intellect is probably the most valuable intellect to possess. Just imagine how difficult it is to talk to a girl if you want her to be your girlfriend. We feel awkward talking to senior people or professors at university although they might be friendly and willing to be kind to us; that is because we feel we have to respect those people. Meeting somebody you do not know is another challenge especially if the person is from a different country and culture. However, gradually we get used to such situations; besides, we get to know other cultures better. It is a great help to communicate with people from all around the world on the internet; this way we may not only develop our foreign language skills, but also to learn what and when to say. Misunderstandings do happen, but after your Arabian friend will remind you that he does not celebrate Christmas, you will know that for sure when communicating with other Muslims. It is of interest to become a member of some international organization as well, for example, to join volunteers or just to work as au-pair. Such experiences are for the lifetime; the just make us richer spiritually.
15. LATEST EVENTS
Modern world is sometimes called the worldwide village as it is easy to contact everybody and anytime. As a result, all the events in the world are interrelated. Everybody understands that pollution and radiation do not know state boundaries; we also know that war and instability in one region affects the whole continent and even influences the situation of the entire world. That is why, it is very important that fighting groups and nations should settle their conflicts as usually mostly innocent people are their victims. Two recent events caught everybody’s attention. First of all, it is the earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean, which took lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It was evident that all the countries of the world have good will to help the victims. On the other hand, two upsetting things became clear: there was no organization that could organize the aid distribution process efficiently, some regions were not warned about the coming disaster, and the aid failed to reach some regions that badly needed it. Besides, the aid was sometimes incompetent. Hi-tech equipment was destroyed in hospitals, power plants and factories, but the donations frequently contained cheap medicines only. The second event is the death of the Pope who was in fact a moral authority all around the world and the only person who was respected by all religious, political and military leaders. This is a great loss to all mankind, and with the election of the new pope the Roman Catholic Church will shows what world they want to see in the future.
We live in the world, where many people highly value material achievements, and profit is the only thing that most people seek. This resulted in the increase of pollution which threatens to make our planet impossible to live in. People already understand that pollution does not know region and state boundaries, and that the nature is more important than technological achievements. Poisonous gases are released, and they destroy the ozone layer which is around our planet. As a result, more and more people die of cancer and related diseases. Rainforests are cut down in Latin America, and consequently the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere gradually decreases. In addition, numerous accidents in nuclear power plants result in the release of radiation which kills animals and people all around. Luckily, people become gradually concerned with the problem, and the solution is looked for. Some regions have already achieved good results in combining ecological issues and production processes. For example, many countries in North Europe promote production without waste, and the factory which pollutes something has to pay for it substantially. This results in the cleanness of water and the improvement of human health. Hopefully, other countries will join their efforts in the nearest future. It is of vital importance not to destroy habitats of wild animals and plants in order to sustain the ecosystem. Apart from global problems, we must be concerned about things happening in our daily life. If we manage to decrease the amount of litter, the world would be cleaner and nicer.
THE LANGUAGE I STUDY
English is the most widely spoken language in the world. About one billion people use it as their native language, and at least another billion of us know it as a foreign language. Of course, not all foreigners achieve fluency and mastery, but on the whole English is more or less understood all around the world. Major English speaking countries are the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. Besides, English is one of the main languages in such large countries as Canada, India and South Africa. More than thirty other countries use English as one of the state languages as well. English-speaking countries range from such prosperous states as Australia to the poorest nations of the world, for example, Nigeria and the Philippines. It is not surprising that the cultures vary a lot: there are native speakers of English in every continent, and Jamaicans are really different from the Irish. It is not surprising that English abounds in varieties; even British and American newspapers differ substantially. English is a Indo-European language belonging to the Germanic branch. It was largely influenced by North Germanic languages, Latin and French throughout its history. Words are not declined, and it is an analytical language. There are many scientists exploring English, and probably the most famous of them is David Crystal.