Why did you come to Vilnius?
There are a lot of opportunities here in Lithuania. I came to Vilnius to study Psychology. I am majoring in Psychology. A lot of African people would like to come to Europe to get a job. I myself never expected to be here. When I was told I could go for studies to Europe, I thought that it was a joke. Then I grabbed the opportunity. I always thought I would go abroad when I was about 30 years old, when I earned some money. As you see, it happened much sooner. I am just so happy here. I also want to learn Lithuanian language.
What did you know about Lithuania before coming here?
I didn’t know anything. I had also applied to study in universities in Canada and France. I was accepted in Vilnius and this is where I am now. My friends came to Vilnius for studies in January. It took me longer to arrive in Vilnius because I had to get a visa.
What differences do you see between Lithuania and Ghana?
Accra is the capital city. It’s very very busy and overcrowded. The best of everything is in Accra - the best stores, the best schools, etc. Here I noticed that life is much more peaceful. Things are very well organised in Vilnius from the traffic signals in the streets, to public transportation and home life. In Ghana it is a bit more chaotic. Drivers don’t always stop at the crosswalk to let pedestrians cross in Ghana. If there are no cars in the street and the light is still red, pedestrians tend to cross in Ghana. Here people are more orderly.
What other differences did you notice?
People in Ghana are superstitious. This is especially prevalent in communities of less educated people. The youth of Ghana are more fully immersed in European culture - the songs, music for example. It seems that people from Africa know more about Europe than the average European about Africa. I am surprised by Lithuania’s high suicide rate. Also, I was surprised by the number of people that go to see a psychiatrist for their problems. In Ghana, we have close family ties and talk to family members or friends about our problems
What surprised you?
I was shocked that you can go walk in the woods in Vilnius. In Ghana, the forests are bushy and there may be snakes, so you can’t walk there. The forest is also a very noisy place in Ghana. There are a variety of animals there. One time I was almost bitten by a snake in a forest in Ghana.
You are always smiling and very positive. How do you manage to stay so optimistic?
My life is full of grace. I gain my happiness from seeing other people being happy. I don’t want anyone to kill my vibe or my joy, so I work at staying positive. I have to self-motivate myself daily. I repeat positive phrases or compliments to myself - in front of a mirror for about 5 minutes, as I’m getting dressed in the morning. I’ve been doing it a lot. I admire and say many good and positive things about myself. This boosts self confidence. If I stop being positive and I don’t focus on my goals, I will lose my self-confidence and be shy. Then, I may become sad or even depressed. I don’t want - no matter how sad I may feel, for other people to feel my negative emotions. I don’t want people to feel pity for me. So I stay focused and try to be positive. You know, if you are always thinking about problems, this may depress you. The problems will always be there. But we can stay optimistic while combating the problems.
You play the piano, but you prefer playing drums. Do you have an opportunity to play drums in Vilnius?
I’ve been playing drums for about 15 years, but I have no formal training in music. People are very surprised in Ghana that I play drums because many of them remember the “noise” I made in public gatherings, when I was a little boy, but still trying to play drums. Music is like food for the soul. It helps you calm down, if you are stressed. I play in Vilnius in a rented space in Fabijoniškės. We have a pianist from Korea that practices with us and a singer from Ukraine. We call ourselves simply the “Vilnius Band.” We are looking for a place in Vilnius where we could play for an audience, but we don’t have our own instruments, so it is complicated. Music is my passion. Every night, despite that I don’t have drumsticks, I do special “drum exercises” moving my wrists in a circular mission. That helps me to stay ‘in shape’, despite the fact that I can’t practice with an instrument every day.
What are your plans for the future?
After I graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Mykolas Romeris University, I plan to pursue Master’s Degree studies. I would also like to apply for an Erasmus Mundus international studies programme.