From her early travels with family to the decision to study in the Netherlands and eventually settling in Italy, Sandra’s story is marked by a relentless pursuit of adventure and a deep understanding of her own evolving desires.
Tell us your story.
I started traveling with my parents when I was around 12 years old, and we mostly explored Europe. At 16, I realized I could travel without my parents. I promptly planned a trip to the Netherlands with my best friend, which turned out to be an incredible experience. It opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of traveling and exploring other countries. Despite still being a child 😄, I felt like an adult with the newfound ability to travel.
Upon completing school, I immediately knew I wanted to move abroad and pursue further studies. Due to my affection for the Netherlands, I decided to study there. Because of my love for traveling, I chose to enroll in International Tourism Management. I thoroughly enjoyed my three years in Leeuwarden; however, afterward, I realized I had explored everything the Netherlands had to offer. This realization fueled my desire to experience a new culture.
What did your life looked like before and why did you decide to change it?
My life in the Netherlands was incredibly busy. I consistently held 1-3 jobs to support myself, covering the costs of my studies and travels. Alongside this, I embraced the typical student life, attending parties and engaging in numerous social activities, all while maintaining a rigorous study schedule. After three intense years, I recognized the need for a change in my life. Consequently, I packed all my belongings and returned to Lithuania for the summer to reconnect with my family and friends.
Soon after, a new wave of Covid emerged, and unwilling to endure another lockdown, I made the spontaneous decision to move to Spain. During my three-month stay there, I took the opportunity to reconnect with myself, reconsider my life choices, cultivate new healthy habits, and simply allow myself some much-needed rest. Once recharged, I returned to Lithuania to start anew. However, I always sensed that something was missing. Being back “home” felt off—it seemed as if I had already experienced it before. There was a lack of excitement, challenges, and everything felt too familiar.
During this time, I met a Lithuanian guy living in Italy. Our connection deepened rapidly, and within three weeks, he had to return to Italy for his career. Given our strong bond, I decided to visit him in Italy, intending to stay for two weeks. Unexpectedly, those two weeks turned into almost two years.
What were the biggest lessons you learned on the trip and what did you understand about yourself?
I always knew that I was not meant to stay in one place for too long. I love adventures, meeting new people, getting to know different cultures, and spending time in nature. I feel like traveling connects all of these things. However, after spending so much time considering various places my home and attempting to distance myself from Lithuania, I realized that, eventually, everybody needs a place to call home and some stability in their lives. So, the most significant lesson for me this year, after traveling to over 15 countries in one year, is that you can’t run away from yourself, and everyone eventually needs a “home” to return to.
That’s why I bought a “summer house” in Lithuania, where I am planning to build a home in the future. This way, I can have a place to return to when I get tired of traveling.
Do you feel your life has turned out different than you previously thought? Have you found yourself different from what you always thought?
For a long time, I thought that the Netherlands would be my forever home. I certainly loved living there, but I feel like I never quite adjusted to the culture. Having lived in Italy for almost 2 years now, I can sense that this lifestyle is much more suitable for me. I appreciate the slower pace of life, the midday siestas, the laid-back people, and, of course, the food and the beautiful nature. At this point in my life, I feel very happy and fulfilled here.
If you could go back to beginning, what would you do differently?
Honestly, nothing. I feel like I am learning a lot in each stage of my life. I love that I got to experience Lithuanian, Dutch, Spanish, and Italian cultures. I feel that they are all different and provide unique lessons. I know that this is only the beginning, and in the future, I will explore even more cultures. Everything comes and goes at the right time; we just sometimes don’t realize it. I always try to embrace the hard times and find a lesson in them. That’s why I don’t think that I would have done anything differently..
If someone is secretly dreaming about the lifestyle you are living now, what would you tell them?
If you are scared to move away from everything familiar to you—friends, family, city, country, home—then try doing it on a smaller scale. First, have lunch in the city by yourself and get comfortable with being alone. Then, go on a short solo trip. If you still don’t feel comfortable moving abroad, consider moving to another city in your home country. Once you become familiar with being away from your family and friends, try moving to a new country. I know, it’s scary at first, but I promise you—it’s worth it! The more you travel, the more you realize that the world is way smaller and way friendlier than you thought.
Is it scary to go on the adventure of a lifetime?
For me, no. It’s way scarier to be born, live, and die in the same town. I have always felt a deep urge to explore the unknown, and I believe that traveling fulfills this purpose.
What are the most amazing things about living here?
Italy has soooo much to offer. I believe that you could live here for 50 years and still discover new places to explore. Nature has everything you could ever dream of—the sea and amazing beaches, beautiful mountains and mountain lakes, volcanoes, etc. Additionally, each little town has so much history to offer. Of course, the food is amazing, as well as the quality of it and the food culture. And the weather—it is so nice to have so many warm days and sunshine compared to Lithuania.
Living the way you do, what was the hardest thing in this whole experience?
As I mentioned before, not having a stable, familiar home and having to move often. Also, not having any friends or a sense of community. I work from home, so it is rather hard to make connections with people. I have also only now started learning Italian, so I hope soon I will be able to communicate with the locals without having to use my boyfriend as a translator.
What would you suggest for people dreaming about this lifestyle?
It is not always easy, but it’s worth it. You can come back to your home country anytime you want, and nothing will have changed. The only thing that will have changed is you.
What are the first steps in preparation?
As I mentioned before, start small. Begin with lunch or dinner by yourself, move to a different town, and only then consider moving to another country.
What are your next steps? Is there any adventure you are planning?
For now, I will enjoy my time in Italy until the end of May. Then, I will go to Lithuania, work on the “summer house” for the summer, and in the autumn, probably come back to Italy and explore a new region.