Alright, we’re picking up from where we left off last week! Like I mentioned last week, it is really easy to get sick in college, especially when in a different country. So, while at LCC, what do you do when you get sick?
Soup: Much like American culture, soup seems to be thought as a good way of recovering from illness. And fortunately, soup is a major part of Lithuanian cuisine! Everything from the cold beet soup, also known as pink soup, to potato soups, and plenty of stews. Ask your roommates what soups or stews they eat when they’re sick, and if you seem sick enough, they might even make it for you!
Pharmacy: Almost every grocery store has a pharmacy (which in Lithuanian is
vaistinė) that holds the basics of what you’ll need. Most likely, you’ll end up with the college cold, which isn’t serious. It’s just miserable and will definitely hinder your ability to get the most of your experience. Now, everything will be in Lithuanian, so download the language to your Google translate app so you can read the labels, but most people in the younger generations are able to speak English. They should be able to help you find what you need.
Traditional Cold Remedies: Every country and every culture has its traditional remedies that have been passed down through the generations, based on what they have in the local area. For Lithuania, that is honey and herbal teas. First of all, honey in Lithuania tastes significantly better than honey in the United States. Don’t know why that’s the case, but it’s the truth. Honey serves as a natural antibiotic that tastes really good and soothes the throat. Mix it with herbal tea, especially kumelīte (chamomile) tea. Cranberries also seem to be considered valuable for fighting off infection. Then, finally, there’s garlic. Now, you could just consume the garlic in kepta duona (fried bread with garlic and cheese sauce), but that’s probably not the most helpful. According to my research on cold remedies here in the Baltics, eating raw garlic is encouraged, but maybe just mix it in with other foods. Or, ask your roommates and floormates what their grandmothers would recommend! You would undoubtedly get lots of good cold remedies.
Now, if you managed to follow the suggestions from last week’s post, you shouldn’t ever get sick (in theory!) and won’t need to follow this advice, but if you do, fear not. Every challenge is an opportunity to learn and to grow. Illnesses in a different country are periods of vulnerability that do make things more difficult. Yet in that same time, this vulnerability creates an opening for strengthening relationships with the people and culture around you. In that way, you become part of the local culture in a way that we weren’t before.
Labas (Hello)! While you study abroad at LCC International University, it will be very useful to learn a bit of Lithuanian. When living in a different country, it is only respectful to learn the language (and culture) of where you are staying. I figured I could share with you guys some basic Lithuanian and where to use it!
Bus station- Autobusų Stotis. When at the Bus stop it’s not required that you speak Lithuanian, but it is greatly appreciated. I have been yelled at a few times for not at least trying to speak Lithuanian. So here are the basics:
One Student Ticket Please– Prašau vieną studentišką billetą
Does this bus go to ______ station?– Ar šis autobusas važiuoa į ________ stotį?
Stop Please!– Sustok prašau!
How much?– Kiek kainuoja?
Thank You– Ačiū
No– Ne / Yes– Taip
Market- Turgus.Grocery shopping has been one of the hardest transitions since I’ve been here. Here are a few words that will be helpful to you when shopping for food:
Where is _____?– Kur yra _____?
Ice Cream– Ledai
Check Out– Eilė
Personal Care– Asmeninė priežiūra
Restaurant- Restoranas / Cafe- Kavinė.These are some basics that will help you when you are at a restaurant or coffee shop:
Staying healthy while living at university is hard. Staying healthy while traveling is hard. Staying healthy while studying abroad can feel like an impossible task! It’s a combination of really close living conditions, environmental stress, situational stress, lack of sleep, less nutritious food, and new people. Same thing with traveling, but even more so because of the international context which brings in very different germs from all over the globe.
Yet, as college students, we often do not take good care of our health. Instead, we attempt to power through until we’re healthy again. That’s a terrible choice. It only lengthens the amount of time we get sick and makes it worse. That’s not great at your home institution, but while traveling abroad, it can be disastrous. At best, your experience will be diminished while you are sick, and your time studying abroad is already so limited. Losing some of that to being sick can make you really miss out.
Now, the best cure is preventative. All of this is common sense that we learn growing up. But, in the context of a new university and new school, it can be really easy to forget these.
Hydrate! Drink lots of water to ensure you’re staying hydrated. Prevents headaches, tiredness, and the very irritating chapped lips.
Sleep! Okay, seriously. University students are terrible. I know that. I used to be like that, but it continuously degrades your mental clarity and performance. Plus, it weakens your body’s ability to repair itself and fight off early infections. Let’s not forget it makes it harder to learn, which is a significant aspect of studying abroad.
Eat healthily! Also very difficult, I acknowledge, and sometimes we have to re-learn how to do this when in a different culture. But it’s a fantastic learning experience as well. Talk to your roommates from the culture you’re studying in. What do they normally eat? How do they prepare their food? Eat lots of vegetables and fruit. These are full of the vitamins and nutrients that you need to function at the top of your game and get the best out of your travels. Plus, other cultures have different fruits and vegetables that you can try!
Supplements! Nobody likes taking vitamins and supplements, but they can give you that extra boost. Vitamin C can usually be found in other countries, at least in my experience, but if you don’t speak the language, that can be a challenge, so bring a friend or a handy translation app. If worse come to worst, citrus fruits can always be a boost.
Clean your dorm! For real. A healthy living space is clear of germs, bacteria, and other things that might cause illness to spread. Dust can cause congestion which can get infected. At LCC, there are room inspections once a month, but definitely keep it cleaner during the in-between times as well. You’ll feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Like I said, these are all common sense things that are too easy to forget when experiencing a new culture, especially for a brief period of time when we want to get as much out of an experience as possible.
But trust me, being sick while studying abroad is terrible. It leads to missing out on experiences and even if you do involve yourself with them, they won’t be as meaningful if you spend the entire time with a headache and congestion that makes you feel miserable.
Next week! What happens when (not if) you do get sick while studying abroad? How do you treat that?
We are a little over one month into studying abroad in Lithuania. I have already grown so much since I have been at LCC. I, along with other students, have realized how easy it is to get distracted from your goals you had planned for your time studying abroad. It is so important to come with goals you want to accomplish while abroad. One question you will be asked once you get here is what your purpose for the semester is. It is important to make sure to use your time wisely while here in Europe. The best way to make sure you accomplish your goals and purpose is by making a list before or when you first arrive.
Many people decide to study abroad for different reasons so it will look different for everyone. I personally had a goal to visit as many countries possible while here. I also wanted to get involved with a ministry and do benevolence work in the Klaipeda community. Other people’s purpose was to accomplish their practicum in teaching or youth pastoral, and others wanted to just experience a different learning culture. You can have multiple goals you would like to complete, just make sure they are realistic goals that you can accomplish. Also, be sure to talk with the study abroad staff about what you want to get involved in and they can help open many doors for you in the community.
Since everyone’s purpose for studying abroad is a bit different the distractions that hinder you from achieving those goals will look different for everyone. The biggest distraction I have personally dealt with is not finding my group of friends. The study abroads and university students make a big group. There are so many people to hang out with while you are living on campus. It’s impossible to feel close to all of them and easy to feel left out if you don’t intentionally put yourself out there. It is easy to allow yourself to never go out of your room or to only go to town by yourself. This can cause you to feel left out. It’s very important to remember your goals for the semester, or it is possible that you will get distracted and cause youself to miss the best semester of your life by feeling down. For me, it hasn’t been a priority to make super close friends, but I realized that without having people around there is something missing. If I could go back to the beginning of the semester I would have made sure that I did make that a priority.
On the other end, I have seen a lot of other study abroad students get too overwhelmed with doing too many things with their friends. They feel they don’t have time to even do their school work. If you don’t have time to do your school work, you for sure will not have time to accomplish your goals for the semester. An important thing to do is to find an even ground between having your own personal time, without being too isolated, and being too popular with no time to do the basic things that need to be done. Even if you do end up feeling left out due to your own choices, or if you are too involved with other people it is important to go back and remind yourself the reason you decided to study abroad.
Another thing to be careful of is the super cheap flights. Even if your goals are similar to mine, there is such thing as traveling too much. You are doing a STUDY abroad. It is important that you invest in your classes and take time to understand what it is like to study in a different country. It is so easy to be gone every weekend and explore new cities, but you will tire yourself out where you won’t be able to physically do your goals for the semester. Make sure to leave some weekends free to catch up on readings or to do big assignments.
The last thing that I have noticed that is a distraction to accomplishing your purpose while studying abroad is the culture shock. Culture shock is something that everyone goes through especially by the end of the first month in the new culture. I personally have allowed certain things in the culture, such as grocery shopping or the style of food, to affect me. When culture shock happens and I feel aggravated with little things I had to remind myself that studying abroad in Europe had been something that I wanted to do for a long time. I had to remind myself that this is a feeling that happens when you experience something that is very different than where you are from and that I will eventually get used to it. I have heard stories from the past of people allowing the culture of the country they are in to affect their lives while there. They focus so much on wanting to go back to what they are used to instead of trying to learn more about the culture. If you allow yourself to try to understand why things are done the way they are you can find the beauty in the moments and will soon be over culture shock.
I really hope that when and if you come to this point in the semester you are reminded of why you came to LCC. I hope that you can look at how far you have already come and how much more time you have to grow and accomplish the purposes of why you choose to study abroad. Take time to go to the ocean, a park, or a coffee shop and reflect on the time you have been here and see how you have worked towards your goals for studying abroad. If you are straying away from your original plan, try to maneuver back and set your priorities to where you truly want them. Remember that while you are overseas, life is still life and it still has its ups and downs. Don’t allow life’s little bumps to affect your time while studying abroad. Instead, use them as fuel to ignite yourself to help you complete your purpose of studying abroad and become who you want to be when you leave to go back home.
(And any other weekend trips)
One of the big questions about studying abroad is packing. There’s already a post about packing for the semester, which you should definitely check out! (Hint- pack what you think you need and then leave a lot at home!)
This one will be much more focused! A weekend traveling between Latvia and Estonia doesn’t sound like it would require much packing, but that includes many hours on a bus, including an overnight trip. Plus, aren’t Latvia and Estonia really cold?
Yeah, a little chilly. Chiller than Klaipeda at least and since all three Baltic capitals are coastal, expect rain and wind. Plus, as with most traveling, there is lots and lots of walking planned for the trip, regardless of the weather.
That means we should pack lots of heavy stuff right? Well, no. One thing we’ve learned and been advised is to not bring suitcases, even if they have wheels. Apparently, suitcase wheels and cobbled streets do not get along.
This is the recommended luggage for this trip, any form of weekend travel, and the Russia trip for nine days.
Yeah, not big is it? How are we supposed to prioritize and fit warm clothes in that, especially with a nine-day trip in mind? Practice! Shorter weekend trips are a great way to design your own process and priorities.
But what you do need for this trip is a passport, ISIC card, waterproof coat, waterproof shoes, and probably no more than three outfits. Minus the coat and shoes, everything else can be easily rolled up inside a carry-on backpack. Another important part is layering! Good layers that you can adjust as weather changes are vital when looking at chilly or rainy seasons. As one saying goes, there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. Look ahead to what’s expected and prepare accordingly. Fleeces and sweaters are really good for that, so have a few of those on hand. You can find lots of good tutorials on packing for a backpacking trip in Europe which are better than what I can teach you, so if you have more questions, do some Google searches and learn from those who make a living traveling.
See? I even added a first aid kit for blisters, cooking burns, and other small things like that. (Staying healthy while studying abroad will be another post!) For a long bus-ride, your coat can make an excellent blanket to save space, while the travel pillow is a great way to make sleeping easier.
If you already went to Riga and Tallinn, how did you pack? If you haven’t gone yet, what do you think the most challenging part for you would be? What other tips and suggestions would you like to see from us this semester?
With only being here for one month, I can already see that I made the right choice to study abroad at LCC. This program is not just a basic study abroad opportunity; it is so much more than that. There are many unexpected life-changing events that I have been able to enjoy. The study abroad staff at LCC has been sure to help me and the other study abroad students transition into making Lithuania our home. There are a few main perks that I have noticed that has helped make this adjustment smoother. There are more than I will list here, but here are the top five!
1. So many travel experiences!
To begin your experience as a study abroad, you start with having orientation in Vilnius, which is a great city to start exploring Lithuania! You get a lot of free time to tour around with your new study abroad friends and interns! Along with exploring Vilnius, you get to visit places like Palanga, Trakai, and Nida! There are also other travel experiences outside of Lithuania, for example, this weekend we will be exploring Riga, Latvia, and Tallinn, Estonia and in October we get to sojourn in Russia! These mentioned are all included in the study abroad program, but there are bounteous more opportunities to explore the rest of Europe for super cheap!
2. You don’t have to pack a lot because most things are provided!
Before I left for Lithuania I was so nervous that I was going to forget something important that they don’t have in Klaipeda. I almost brought a lamp with me while I was packing… (It was a small foldable lamp but still totally unnecessary!) I was told that LCC study abroad program would supply those kinds of things, but I was still worried because I didn’t know exactly what those things would be. Once I got here I was so glad that I left my big stuff at home in states! Every room has a lamp on the walls, and we were given bedding, a pillow, hangers, and basic cooking supplies. This is so helpful! Anything that isn’t supplied by the program is very easy to access at Acropolis. I bought a small mirror to go on my desk, a vase to place flowers in, and basic school supplies for just a few euros! The only big things that I brought with me from home was my soft blanket and my pillow. (By the way, if you bring your pillow and you wash it before you pack it, be sure to let it dry… because I didn’t and it molded and I had to trash it.)
3. Support Groups!
One thing I love that the study abroad program offers is the support groups. So far, there have been three main ways of showing this. First is the Tri-S meetings/dinners. Second is the study abroad staff and cross-cultural class. The third is study abroad bible studies! When I first heard about the Tri-S meetings I was very excited! The study abroad students are divided into groups where we meet with a family from America that is living here in Klaipeda. It is so encouraging to hear from adults who have moved from the states, experienced culture shock and gone through the same experiences we have as we journeyed to this new land. It’s a nice, intimate time to express how you are getting along with the culture. There is also normally amazing food! The study abroad staff has been so generous to us by showing us around and teaching us in the cross-cultural class. There we get to learn more about the culture of where we are staying and traveling. This class and the staff help us adapt better to living in Lithuania. Lastly, we have the study abroad bible studies. There are many bible study options on campus at LCC, but it is nice to be with study abroad students who look at this whole experience abroad as a gift from God.
4. Once in a lifetime opportunities!
There are many things that you can be apart of while studying abroad at LCC. There are internships where you can teach English, help in schools, and gain experience for your future while abroad that you might never have been able to do without this program. There are also very cool events that you can participate in when the time arises. For example, last weekend we were offered to attend a trip to Vilnius where we were able to see Pope Francis as he celebrated Lithuania’s 100th year of statehood. It was an experience that I will never forget and will always be thankful to LCC for allowing us the opportunity to attend. There are many more opportunities and they change as new events happen throughout the years!
5. Amazing Relationships with students from all around the world!
The last and my favorite perk of studying abroad at LCC is the relationships that you make while being here, not only with the other study abroad students but also the full-time students. Since LCC is an international university there are people from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Americas, and literally all over the world! There are about 30-45 countries represented on campus this semester! That makes for super diverse dorm rooms, great food being cooked in the kitchens and interesting conversations in class! The best part about LCC being so diverse is making friends from all around the world, learning about each other’s life experiences, and building off of each other to help grow as individuals. You can learn so much from other people once you allow yourself to open up and be poured into.
As I said in the beginning, we are only one month into this amazing experience and there is so much more LCC has to offer! It still feels like it is a dream that I am here. I know as soon as I realize that this is a reality, our time here will almost be finished. So far, choosing LCC to study abroad has been one of the best choices I have made and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time here is in store for me and my new friends!
… before orientation or during a weekend trip! Vilnius is the largest city in Lithuania and the national capital, but we only stayed two days during orientation. During that time, we saw some incredible things, but having stayed there for a week, there is much more to see and do. More than can be managed in two days. Now, I cannot say that every orientation schedule is the same, but if you’re planning ahead, we went to the Museum of Genocide Victims (also known as the KGB Museum), Trakai, Palanga, and Nida during orientation. Going back to the museum is highly recommended to absorb the history and information that they have compiled inside. It’s sobering, but a deeply enriching experience to understand the history of Lithuania.