She was born in a city near the Baltic sea and has the courage to bring up social issues that others are afraid to talk about. She opens her heart to people and lets the emotion flow like the ocean waves because she is patient enough to catch the right one. Meet Eglė Puidokaitė, an amazing mom, social activist, LCC student, and… surfer!
To begin with, could you please tell me more about what your life looked like before studying at LCC?
After I graduated high-school I went to Kaunas to study Public Communication at Vytautas Magnus University. I loved living in Kaunas. During the time in Kaunas, a new beautiful person- my child - entered into the world and in my life. I wanted to dedicate all my time and love fully to her, so I took academic leave from my studies for three years and came back to Klaipeda. I feel like I grew up the most during the time of raising my child. I learned a lot about myself from my parenting and from my child. I also started reading a lot of books about child psychology, which later developed into my love for psychology in general.
You are a local student from Klaipeda. Why did you decide to stay here and become a student at LCC International University instead of going to Vilnius for example?
I always wanted to explore the world and still want and plan to do it someday. However, when I became a mother it became a bit more complicated to have spontaneous travel abroad for long-term living. I decided to stay in Klaipeda and raise my child in a familiar place until I become more confident with my finances, goals, and life. When I came to LCC, instead of asking about transferring credits, I asked about possibilities to study a new field for me - Psychology. It was a bit scary to accept that my degree would take even longer than I initially expected, but I felt stronger and stronger that I was genuinely interested in changing to study Psychology. I chose LCC because I like how diverse and international it is. I always love being surrounded by different cultures, learning about them, and getting to know different people, so it was a perfect fit for me. It was kind of like a simulation of living abroad and exploring the world by studying at an international university, just based in your own country. Interesting fact, LCC community members (some professors and some students) were the ones who encouraged me not to drop my previous studies and finish them so I enrolled at LCC and at the same time continued my previous studies. It was scary to take up such a step and study in two universities at the same time but I thought if it does not work, at least I tried. I want to encourage everyone to always take chances, even if it seems quite impossible, because at least you know you have tried!
How does it feel to be a sophomore? How do you enjoy studying Psychology so far?
I must say the first year went very fast. It feels like you learn the most in the first year about the LCC community, by being in it and studying. I still enjoy psychology a lot as it is a wide and interesting field. I believe that psychology could be a great choice of studies for anyone as it teaches us about ourselves and others, and helps us to understand and be more conscious. LCC has a lot of great psychology professors that bring interesting and different perspectives to this field of study. Studying online makes it a bit more complicated to stay focused and I truly miss in-person classes where we could have discussions, raise questions, and communicate.
Apart from your classes at University, you are actively involved in the city community. What are the projects that you are currently working on?
This past year I started working with a local non-profit organization, Klaipeda Social and Psychological Help Center, which focuses on three major issues: domestic violence, human trafficking, and prostitution. I never saw myself working in this type of an organization, however, I always felt I was an advocate of human rights, equality, and justice. I became curious about ways to help change the issues people face, and how to build-up a more conscious, empathetic, and open-minded society. I started working in this organization as a Communication Specialist, but it gave me a chance to get to know the issues of violence, prostitution, and human trafficking from a closer perspective and see how to fight these issues. I have had a chance to be a part of campaigns, events, and seminars, which brought a lot of knowledge and growth and also new ideas on how to overcome social injustice.
Do you think that activism is important? What have you accomplished so far?
I do believe social activism is very important. More importantly and more crucial is to ask yourself questions about why you want to be an activist, what messages do you want to bring to the world, and what changes do you want to make. So far, I have been involved with an international campaign, “The Last Girl First,” whose main goal is to raise societal awareness of sex trafficking and the prostitution problem of marginalized communities. It was originally developed by an organization in India and now is led by the International Association CAP (Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution).
With all we’ve already mentioned, it seems like you have a really diverse personality! I know that you have one more big hobby - surfing. How did you start catching waves?
I grew up in a city near the Baltic sea. I always loved the water, but I was never really interested in water sports, even though I saw and knew people who used to surf, kite surf, and sail. One day I finally got the courage to try surfing. It seemed difficult, as an unfamiliar sport to me. I must say I fell in love with surfing from that very first moment. It gave me everything I needed the most - freedom, connection with nature, adventure with sun and water. It helped me release feelings I held for a long time, like anger, sadness, and pain that I was carrying from different hurtful experiences in my life. Mostly surfing helped me to work on my arrogance and pride. In the sea, pride and arrogance do not survive. The sea is stronger than you. The sea decides when to bring a wave or not, and you can simply choose to go with it or fight with it and lose. Once, you learn this and let your arrogance and pride go, you can start catching waves. I really like a saying once said by a surfer, that all people who surf are simple, honest, and happy because in the sea, they let all negativity and arrogance go.
Can you describe your feelings when you stay on the surfboard and move together with the sea? What is your favorite part of surfing?
My favorite part of surfing more than anything else is to be in the sea and wait for that one special wave with all those other surfers. It is a unique feeling, when we are all in the water, no one speaks, but one eye contact can tell you more than a thousand words, as you only hear the water splashing while waiting. It feels so liberating to catch a wave, like you and the water suddenly connect and become as one as the wave carries you to the shore. The feeling is so good, that it is worth patiently waiting --sometimes longer, sometimes shorter-- for the right wave, for that one catch. To be honest, I haven’t met a person yet who didn’t fall in love with surfing after trying.
Klaipeda seems to be a pretty cold spot for surfing. Is weather an obstacle for you?
Not at all, but the oceans are not warm. There is a special wetsuit with parts to cover you from head to toe and keep you warm in the water, even in the coldest time of the year when the sea and the weather are very cold. I know it seems hard to believe and it can be a struggle to try surfing in the cold, however, it just takes a good wetsuit. Of course, surfing in summer is more exciting and better for beginners. In summer, the waves are small, it is warm, and you can often surf just with a swimsuit. But cold season surf gives you a chance to try big waves, the wilder ones. Bigger waves give more adrenaline, but require more experience too.
Which time for you is the best for surfing: morning, evening, or nights? Why?
I love morning surf. It wakes me up and builds up to my mood for the whole day. I always feel so motivated for the rest of the day and have such good energy. Evening surfs especially in early autumn or summer are very calming and joyful, because you get a VIP view of a sunset in the sea and waves are usually synchronous. Anyway, surfing at any time of day pumps me up with a good mood and energy!
How do you manage to find time for everything as you combine family, work, studies, activism, and hobbies? Any time-management secrets?
I often ask this myself. I must be honest, I don’t always manage everything and sometimes I just have to prioritize one thing over another. Instead of spending time stressing over how to manage everything and do all I have to do, I just go and do it. One by one, step by step, and eventually I always get things done. Having a planner, where I write all my due dates for assignments, work, and other tasks, helps a lot as I can see clearly what is upcoming. Honestly, I often feel that God helps me a lot too. I feel that doors are opening up for me and obstacles are getting moved out of my way when I do things with all my heart and passion. I feel He is looking over me in my hard times and helps me not to collapse.
Are you planning to connect your future career with one of your hobbies or do you have something else in mind?
I definitely want to keep involved with activism and build a better society for everyone in Lithuania. I want to work on human rights, and equality issues in general, as it is a problem everywhere and we need to be united on these topics. I also feel that surfing will always be a hobby for me. If I ever decide to switch to psychotherapy or counseling, I would definitely want to incorporate surfing as a tool for therapy. In my own experience it has shown me how much it can help a person to heal, release emotions, and grow.