Big Fish, Small Pond Syndrome

My appearance on Lithuanian national television highlights an aspect of my life in Lithuania that is very particular to my life in Lithuania.  In the United States, I am just one more graduate student in history trying to get funding and write my dissertation.  In Lithuania, I am an American scholar who speaks Lithuanian and one of the few non-Lithuanian historians working on Lithuanian history.  This opens doors for me that wouldn’t necessarily be open to the average Lithuanian doctoral student or the average American who comes to Lithuania.  Sometimes it even brings a little bit of fame.

It would be easy to let it go to my head and start thinking that I am a pretty big fish and not pay attention to the fact that I am in a small pond.  I certainly don’t mean that Lithuania itself is a small pond — there are a lot of smart, talented, and influential doctoral students and scholars in Lithuania, quite a few work and are recognized outside the boundaries of Lithuania.  I also don’t want to denigrate my own capabilities.  I have worked hard to establish myself here and many opportunities have come about because other scholars respect my work.  At the same time, I am aware that sometimes I get attention just because I am an American and I speak Lithuanian — I’m a novelty.

Reminding myself that, in some of these situations, I am simply a novelty keeps me humble.  I know that I will continue to work as a scholar in Lithuania and likely will live here again.  While it’s fun to get attention and be interviewed on television, in the long run my life in Lithuania is based on professional and personal credibility and relationships.  I might be a fish of a different color, but I’m just one more fish in the pond.


About amanda

Creating academic and public environments for the humanities to flourish Researching Soviet and Eastern European history Engaging people and ideas as a writer and interviewer Traveling as much as possible View all posts by amanda

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