How I ended up in Belgium: The story of an 11-year-long search for a country to call home

| Dit artikel past in een opdracht voor studenten uit het eerste jaar met als onderwerp cmp - international programme.

I head shot of Aiste Vaitkeviciute in a café

A picture of Aiste telling her story of finding her home


It’s been over a decade since I lived in my home country Lithuania. At first, I considered it home, but the connection faded over time. Sometimes, I still call it home, but I don’t feel at home there anymore.

My life was never spelled out for me. My family never lived abroad. They never moved. They have never known anyone who traveled as much as me, who just left. But why did I go?

In 2012, it was luxurious to go abroad. All my classmates were wealthy, but my parents weren’t. I wanted to fit in and prove to my more privileged classmates that I could do the same as them. That’s why I ended up studying abroad. After my application for an international high school in Italy went through, my life had been transformed for good.

My family always hoped that I would come back home, and for a long time, I believed I would too. I have a loving family, but my ties to my country are complicated. The longer I stayed away, the less I wanted to return home. Once I moved the first time, moving back was less appealing than moving abroad again. Whether I returned to Lithuania or moved to another country, I’d have to start over – new school and communities. But moving abroad could give me bigger and better opportunities for my personal life and career.

My initial reasons for moving abroad were a better education and financial support. It all started with an international high school in Italy. Followed by an undergraduate degree in the American state of Maine. Lastly, my master’s degree took place in a couple of countries in Europe, including Hungary and the UK. This has resulted in 11 years on the run.

Between my undergrad and my master’s program, I went back home for a short period. These six months were eye-opening and drastically changed my perception of my home country. Even though Lithuania will always be my home, things like the working environment and the hunger for more and more money shocked me. The country stayed the same, but I had changed. I am no longer the same young girl who used to live in Lithuania, and I will never be that girl again. I realized my attitude and opinions had changed at that point. I wouldn’t accept it. I wouldn’t accept that I had changed. My perception had changed, and I wouldn’t move back permanently ever again.

When Covid hit and I didn’t take a flight home, that was when I knew I was not going to move back.

Aistė Vaitkevičiūtė

After my master’s, I knew it was time to find a place I could call home. Hungary didn’t feel like a home. I had no job. My university friends had left long ago. In short, I had no future there. I started looking for jobs in the most important political capitals in Europe: London, Berlin, Brussels… It seemed the right choice because I studied international policy and human rights.

In February 2023, I moved to Brussels after getting a position in the European Commission working with human rights. A few months ago, that contract got prolonged and will last six years. It is the first time in 11 years that I have committed myself to staying in one country. I’m starting to find a community, connect with locals, and immerse myself in learning French, the local language. I now don’t need to worry about anything else. In my head, it’s not temporary any more. Belgium is my new home.

De auteur

Victoria Jensen

Profiel E-mail

International Journalism student passionate about human rights and climate change