Who are you? – My name is Lukas Pacevicius and I come from the suburbs of Strasbourg in France. To a native French my name already reveals that my family must have international roots (Dutch on mother’s side and Lithuanian on father’s side). Both sound strange to French ears and sometimes made Frenchmen class me among foreigners. Especially when I was a kid, other French children saw me as a Dutch, mostly because of my name and my double nationality. The Dutch in turn said I was a Frenchman because I had a French accent when I spoke to them. At home with my father, we use dialect, French and Dutch to communicate: he speaks in Alsatian to me – a dialect of Upper German – and I answer him in Dutch or French. Therefore, my ear is used to Germanic languages. Moreover, the history of the Alsace is intertwined with both French and German history. Both are good reasons why I share a particular interest in Germanic culture and why I have the feeling I can understand a good part of the Germanic way to think and act.
And yet, I feel more French than anything else. I think in French, I behave like a Frenchman and in general, I master the French language unlike any other. I love to express myself exact, even when I make use of other languages. Nevertheless, I often experience that people put the label “not a Frenchman” on me because of my multicultural roots. However, that doesn’t really affect me, because I know for myself that there are more upsides than downsides: I learned to appreciate other cultures, I do speak French as everyone else and I can draw from a big pool of intercultural experiences that perhaps some other people can’t.
“Avoir le cul entre deux chaises.”, having the butt between two chairs, as we say in French, doesn’t fit for me as it does for many others of my kind that I met who went to work in international institutions or international schools and never learned to call France their home.
I personally spare no effort to accumulate as much knowledge as I can on everything out there and there is a particular reason, why I don’t make a single field of interest my own: in addition to the great interest for craftsmanship that I inherited from my father, I have nine elder brothers and sisters who all are specialized in a certain field. As the youngest, I spent plenty of time on listening and exploring what the others do. Being around them fostered my curiosity in all their subjects.
First, their calm is impressive. It’s calm everywhere in cities and on their roads. Even when there is a traffic jam, nobody honks, all keep their distance, there is no anger. That is totally different to a traffic jam in France. In general, they respect each other’s personal space much more than we do not only in the distance they keep between their bodies but also in terms of noise they put on each other. They are less forcefully present.
Second, Norwegians take much more time before they speak. They are less spontaneous in communication and not that talkative. Nobody talks just to fill silence, to use the space that exists. When asking for help, their answers always will have meaning though.
I dream of working in a hospital sometimes. This might sound strange for a business student but the corporate world with all its promises isn’t appealing to me. I picked my studies because of my interest in the topic, but not to earn as much money as possible or because of what I would do with it later on. I like to be useful to others by using my knowledge in environments that are closest to humans and health.
And yet, I search for prestige, what can seem paradoxical and contradictory, and there precisely is the dilemma. But in both ways, I can’t stop to go further. When something seems to be like building castles in the air, I remind me of this quote from Oscar Wilde that I was taught once: “Wisdom means to have sufficiently big dreams so as not to lose sight of them while pursuing them”