Moving from Canada to Lithuania to start a career wasn’t initially an easy decision. Sure, Canada is one of the best countries in the world for quality of life but, as a member of the European Union, Lithuania holds great job prospects. Well, Monika Slykaitė, who moved to Lithuania one year ago and joined the Citco group of companies (Citco) in Vilnius, weighed up the pros and cons – and decided to follow her head and her heart. With Monika, we talked about cultural differences, growing up Lithuanian abroad, adapting to a new (sort of) country, and more.
Monika, you moved back to Lithuania in September 2019. What was your life like before the move?
My parents moved to Canada when I was two, until the age of 10 I lived in Montreal and, after that, in Toronto. After high school, I worked in a bunch of customer-facing jobs, in fields as diverse as insurance, high-end fashion retail and even Christmas decoration distribution. Having seen different sides of different businesses, I learned a fair share about such areas as Marketing, Customer Service and Logistics, among others. Then I went on to get a Bachelor's in Finance from Sheridan College's Pilon Business School. My curriculum required me to do an internship, so I entered a huge corporation as a Financial Analyst Trainee. After spending four months there, I had developed a pretty good understanding of what kind of working culture I would like to work in. And I learned a lot about the practical side of Finance and Accounting as well.
After the internship, time came for me to find a job. And you know, Canada is a very crowded market in financial services, so I decided to try my luck abroad. As I was brought up Lithuanian, and my mom had a strict rule of speaking only Lithuanian at home, there was only one obvious choice.
Initially, I applied for a visa, only to have the application cancelled after some time. I phoned the embassy to learn what happened. Apparently, due to my having moved abroad as a kid, I had retained Lithuanian citizenship. I was a dual citizen all this time with zero clue about it.
Did you get any weird looks when you told people you were moving to Lithuania?
It's really funny, but as my husband and I were about to move to Lithuania, my parents were hosting this Lithuanian couple, who had just moved to Canada. They said we were crazy for going to Lithuania, since Canada surely had more prospects.
Well, for one, people believe Canada has a lot of career opportunity – but so does Lithuania. They also point to Canada as a country with immense social benefits, but Lithuania has as much to offer.
So, how did the move go?
As I had signed a contract with Citco before the move, there was no need for me to look for a job, so that was a huge plus. Besides, I had extended family here, and it wasn't the first time visiting, so the move itself didn't come as the biggest shock. Sure, it took me some time to sort out all the documents, find an apartment, understand how taxes and other ¨adult life¨ things worked. Vilnius is great, it has all you need as a city, and is very green at the same time.
There are, of course, some things my husband and I are still trying to get used to. Canadians are known for their soft manners, so the directness of Lithuanian culture took a bit of getting used to, but now we love it. Also, I think we got really used to getting same-day delivery with Amazon Prime in Canada. But waiting a few extra days for something to come in the mail is hardly a big problem.
Finally, even though I grew up speaking Lithuanian to my family, getting a hold of all the idioms and slang takes some time. Luckily, nearly everyone here speaks English, so they can translate any weird expression I might not have heard yet.
And how is working at Citco like?
I am really happy that I decided to take a job Citco. Since I studied Finance at university, I was a little bit skeptical about a career in Accounting. But it was really the company itself that was a good sell for me – Citco has a great work culture, and my team here is highly skilled and supportive. My job, which involves working in fund administration with clients from all over the world, is anything but boring – I can expect an exciting challenge every day. And I usually get one. For a person who loves continuous learning like me, Citco is a great place to be. Plus the work/life balance here is super great.