To under-pack or overpack???

What is one thing you wish you would have brought to LCC and one thing you wish you hadn’t?

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Katie and McKenna with their backpacks and luggage.

McKenna: Bring spanks for dresses, a water bottle, and ziplock bags. I honestly used everything I’ve brought.

Katie: I would highly recommend bringing a weekend backpack aside from your bigger backpack. It comes very handy when doing tours and walking around Klaipeda. Everything thing I brought I used.

Ana thought bubble

“I wish I would have brought some of my nicer clothes because European fashion is incomparable.” –  Ana

Ana:  I really should not have brought my blowdryer. I could have used the space for more clothing and maybe Hot Cheetos? I found the perfect hot tools here for a reasonable price. Also decorations from home are a must. It gave my dorm room more of a cozy feel.

Paige: WARM WEATHER CLOTHES!!! Just a few will do. It starts getting warmer towards the end of the semester.

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Kristina contemplating the question at hand.

Kristina: I wish I would have brought one nice outfit, even if it is not warm! Travel size liquids, makeup wipes, if you like specific drugs like DayQuil you should bring some. I’m so glad I brought pictures from home, it makes me a little less homesick. I used everything I had except my straightener.

Megan: Definitely more ziplock bags and a portable charger! I would leave excess of dressy clothes.

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Bring what is necessary and essential in order for you to experience studying abroad to the fullest!!

Cinthia: I would definitely bring more colorful clothing. I brought way too many grays and blacks and I probably didn’t need to bring my heeled boots…. Bring DayQuil and NyQuil if you are prevalent to getting sick. You can get some at the pharmacy but personally it is not the same for me.

Ally: Bring a swimsuit! Also, bring spandex if you like to wear them under dresses. I would recommend not bring sunblock, if you really need it you can buy it here.

Taylor: I would definitely bring ziplock bags, more shoes, different sizes for backpacks. I would bring my Polaroid camera. I hardly used it.

Adventures Outside of Lithuania

Although we absolutely adore Lithuania, it’s always fun to go and explore other parts of Europe during our time abroad. Thus far, the cohort has visited a total of 10 countries independently from the organized Study Abroad trips to Estonia, Latvia, and Russia!

“Traveling has allowed me to row and learn as an individual and I hope to be able to utilize all of my experiences in the future…” -Sarah

Poland

Poland colorful buildings

Group 1 to Poland pic

Poland

Ally: We learned the word “Kombinowac” which means “thinking outside the box.”

Sarah: I was able to see the deep impacts up close in person of the Holocaust.

McKenna: We walked the same ground as the Jews in the Holocaust at Auschwitz which was eye opening to hopelessness they lived in, but Poland was much more than experiencing history, it was a memorable time of deepening our new friendships.

Paige: Poland was great because it was our first real trip of the semester; I felt like I had a chance to see more of Poland than I would have independently.

Kristina: We hopped on an overnight bus to Poland as our first independent travel, with an LCC professor and some Erasmus students. We stopped first in Auschwitz, which was an incredibly heavy and heartbreaking experience, strongly contrasted to the colorful buildings and exciting history of Krakow little over three hours later.

Cinthia: I was sick the entire trip, but it didn’t take away from the powerful experience.

Taylor: Poland was incredibly powerful to see the actual place where Jews experienced the Holocaust; Also, the city was so beautiful with its colorful architecture.

Spain

KT and Cinthia in Spain

 

Cinthia in Spain

Spain Dalis 2

Megan and Ally

Spain

 

Castle in Spain

Ally: Barcelona was incredible! The elderly population was so active and the culture is so laid back, a lot different than the US.

Dalis: I was completely and utterly in love with the people, the food, and the language.

Cinthia: Spain was beautiful, and I loved speaking my native language, Spanish.

Denmark

Denmark Copenhagen

Denmark Copenhagen 2

Dalis: I found inspiration around every corner, the Danes are ahead of the game.

McKenna: The best part of Copenhagen was the colorful buildings, biking atmosphere, and being reunited with my cousin in a different country than normal.

Kristina: At first, Copenhagen didn’t seem like anything special to me but as we wandered the streets without any particular agenda (which when my mom is the planner hardly ever happens), I fell in love with its abundance of copper, clean streets, and paradoxically quick but peaceful culture.

Cinthia: Although my time exploring the country was limited since it was during my 11 hour layover, I loved it!

Germany

Amelia from Germany

Germany with Amelia

Lisel Berlin Wall

Amelia: Here I learned a lot about German culture in a place with beautiful baroque architecture and neat history.

Liesl: When I was in eleventh grade and doing a project of the Cold War in Berlin, I never thought I would actually see the remains of the wall in person.

Norway

Sarah MK Paige Taylor Norway repeated

Norway

Norway flag

Sarah: I’ve been able to experience the beauty of God’s creation on top of a mountain in Norway!

McKenna: The scenery of Norway, from the fjords to the sea, was indescribable beauty that reminded me of the beauty of our creator as well.

Paige: Norway was like Alaska with a European charm; it was the most important trip for me because I needed a break from cities, and mountains fix a lot of things.

Taylor: I was in awe of the beauty of the nature around me, created by a God so beautiful and intricate.

Portugal

Portugal Dalis

Portugal

Dalis: A darling country that I will surely return to!

Netherlands

Schwab with Family Amsterdam

Amsterdam: Kristina

Dalis: There was never a dull moment in Amsterdam, the best time with the best people.

Kristina: I met my family in Amsterdam which was a surreal, fantastic experience. The diversity of culture and cuisine coupled with the plethora of English speakers in the Netherlands made this weekend feel like a quick trip home.

England

Taylor and McKenna in London

London

McKenna: London is my favorite city I have been to so far, I loved the old buildings, rich history, red double decker buses, and hearing English again!

Taylor: London was an incredible place filled with the best accents, most stunning views, elegant architecture, and sweet people!

Italy

Reno, Ana, and DalisItaly water viewsReno and Ana, AKA The RodriguezItaly Dalis

Ana: Polignano a Mare welcomed me with open arms and showered me with overwhelming beauty, but most importantly, it reminded me that generosity and kindness can make all the difference.

Dalis: It was completely magical in every way.

Reno: The best coast, the best food, the best people, and the best trip.

Sweden

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Cinthia and AnaSweden

Ally: When in Sweden: go to IKEA.

Ana: Sweden wouldn’t have been the same without these two.

Sarah: I had the opportunity to be part of Easter traditions.

Paige: Stockholm was only a quick layover, but exploring was still special and the pastries: WOW.

Cinthia: The Swedish meatballs were bomb.com

Taylor: Growing up in a Swedish town in California, I never thought I would get to experience the Swedish culture and traditions in actual Sweden, which I absolutely loved!

Sharing Food and Life Stories

LCC Freshman Zina Hamu

Iraqi briany prepared by Zina

Since I’ve been at LCC I’ve had such a huge opportunity to meet people from all around the world. My room alone consists of 4 different countries represented. Although it’s been so exciting, I’ve had trouble getting past small talk with the international students. I tend to not be so intentional in getting to know their stories, mainly because it is so comfortable to interact primarily with the American students. Despite my shyness, I finally got a deep talk with one of the international students, and it was while we were cooking in the kitchen. I was making my usual lunch, pasta with vegetables, when I saw my hallmate sautéing peanuts. I was intrigued by this, so went ahead and asked her what she was making. My hallmate, Zina, told me she was making a traditional meal with rice, raisins, and peanuts. I asked her where she was from, and she answered Iraq, just like my roommate, Rita. I asked her if she knew my roommate and she explained to me how they know each other, which led her to open up about her religious beliefs. Zina is Yazidi, which she explained is a religious minority which is currently being persecuted in Iraq. She was very open about the situation, and told me her whole family is currently living in a camp, because of the persecution from ISIS. I began to ask her more questions, as I was incredibly shocked by her family’s situation. She told me that LCC helped her to get to safety, to come to Lithuania and away from the persecution. She is the only one of her family that is currently safe, and the rest of her family wishes they could be in Lithuania with her. She hasn’t been home in over a year, and misses her family dearly. She wants to make people aware of what is happening in Iraq, so she has been asked several times to speak on a variety of platforms about her story. She is trilingual, with English being her third language. Zina prefers to speak about her story in English rather than her native language, because she says she feels the flood of emotions when speaking in her native language. When she speaks in English, she is more focused on saying the next word and using the right grammar to clearly tell the story, directing her attention away from the emotions in the story. She told me she loves to cook her traditional food, because it makes her still feel connected to her home and family. I was so touched by how open she was with me. There was so much I wanted to say, but I just told her thank you for telling me, and please tell me more so I can understand. She smiled and offered me a bowl of her food. She told me she would make the food for me again sometime, with more ingredients such as egg and chicken. This was just the sweetest gesture, and I told her I wanted to cook my favorite Mexican dish for her, ceviche. She got excited because she loves Mexican food, and fish! This short conversation, during our hour long lunch, simply cooking in the kitchen, was so incredibly eye opening. I want to listen. I want to learn. I want to understand.

*Out of respect of Zina, I did not include all of the details of the story she shared with me. However, if you’d like to know more, I encourage you to see the video I linked below where Zina speaks on CNN.

https://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/15/middleeast/yazidi-girls-photography-refugee-camp/index.html

I brought up the idea of cooking traditional meals to my roommates, Rita, Elena, and Elina. They all thought it was a great idea and wanted to do it right away! We went ahead and planned to do it that Saturday at 8pm, bringing our favorite traditional dish. I was so excited to invite Zina, and even more thrilled when she said she would love to come. Since I am half Mexican, and absolutely love Mexican food, I decided to make my famous ceviche! I have been making ceviche since I was in 7 grade, and if you’ve tried it, you know that it is AWESOME! I went to the grocery store and found all the ingredients I needed (which was a relief since I was afraid they wouldn’t have shrimp or tortilla chips). Our kitchen was packed with all of us cooking our different dishes, and the smells were just amazing. We all invited several guests so it was a full house! The dishes served included kebabs, Iraqi briany, and ceviche. The kebabs were made of tortillas, chicken, spices, cucumber, tomato, mayonnaise, and Chinese cabbage. The briany was made of rice, nuts, raisins, noodles, potatoes, spices, chicken, and eggs. My ceviche consisted of crab, shrimp, cucumber, onion, tomato, cilantro, and lemon. Before beginning the meal we gathered to pray, and I was super happy to pray the blessing over the food and our fellowship. There were a variety of countries represented, including U.S., Armenia, Russia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan.  Most of the students on campus speak Russian, so naturally the conversation would vary from English to Russian. Usually when the students speak in another language I just listen and think about how cool the language sounds, or how I have no clue what they’re saying. It was hilarious because I was sitting across from my roommate, Rita, and her friend, Johanna, who both spoke Arabic, not Russian. So, for once, I wasn’t the only one clueless about what people were saying, it was great! To mess around I usually start speaking in Spanish and everyone will start asking what I’m saying, which I find pretty cool considering no one at home asks me for help understanding Spanish (considering half my family is fluent). I do enjoy being around the other languages, since being around Russian I’ve learned a few words! I’ve learned Привет (hello), Как дела? (how are you), Хорошо (good), Спасибо (thank you), and my favorite word, Шишка (pinecone). I even learned how to write my name in Russian, Тэйлор Эммерсен. It was so fun to have such a diverse group, and even joke about taking pride in our countries. The running joke of the night was from the three students from Iraq who started off by saying that the dish they prepared was indeed originally from Iraq. As people questioned whether it was actually originally from Iraq, they started to pick up everything on the table saying “this is from Iraq, this is from Iraq, even this is from Iraq!” We were busting up laughing, especially when all of us from countries other than Iraq started to say “I’m even from Iraq!” Getting to experience genuine laughter and fellowship with young people from around the world was just astounding. I had the most amazing time, and loved all the delicious food. I’m so glad they want to do the dinner again sometime this semester! I’m so grateful for the diversity at LCC, and that I get to meet simply incredible people from all sorts of backgrounds.

-Study Abroad Intern Taylor Emmersen

Russia Part 2: St. Petersburg

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Soul Kitchen hostel recreational room.

Our adventures in Russia didn’t end when leaving Moscow as we ventured to St. Petersburg as our second and final destination for the trip. We arrived at our hostel late at night after the 4 hour ride on the bullet train, but our tiredness didn’t take away from how amazed we were by our hostel, Soul Kitchen. Soul Kitchen Hostel has been ranked several times as the best hostel in the world, and I could definitely see why! It was so cute with Pinterest-like decor and cozy rooms! The little things made it so special including free slippers, a foosball table, hair straighteners to use, and even fresh apple pastries made by the cleaning lady for everyone each morning!

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Beautiful blue church found during the walking tour.

Our first adventure was with a tour guide who had a British accent (which all of us thought was so cool!) The tour was so incredible, we didn’t even notice it was 4 hours long, especially because of how entertaining our tour guide was. He showed us many beautiful buildings with historical facts and stories behind the architecture. Our walking tour became a sliding tour and we slid across the slick ice pretending to ice skate with our snow boots across the canal.

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Reno and Ana getting ready to devour a gigantic milkshake.

One of our favorite dessert places was Mickey and Monkey. Let me tell you, this was no ordinary milkshake place. These portions were huge, and I’m talking America huge, topped with slices of cakes, candy, cookies, ice cream cones, and mountains of whipped cream. This was truly diabetes in a cup, but absolutely delicious.
Next on the itinerary was a Russian Ballet with the story of Cinderella. The theater was decorated in red and gold all over, with a huge chandelier and an orchestra at the base of the stage. Every movement was so elegant, every costume so intricate, and every emotion of the dancers so genuine. It’s so amazing to me how dance is a universal language, where the performers can illustrate a story without having to speak a single word.

rose International Women's day

A flower for a flower.

The next day was International Women’s Day, which is truly celebrated in Europe. Before leaving the hostel for the day, the only guys in the group, Karen and Reno, surprised the group by giving out a single rose to each of the girls in the cohort, so sweet!

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Grand chandeliers throughout the Hermitage.

We were all so excited to spend part of our day exploring the second largest museum in the world, the Hermitage. Apparently if you look at every exhibit for just 3 seconds, it would take you 9 years to see the entire museum, 9 years!!!  All the exhibits, and even the ceilings were more stunning than words could describe. Seeing all of the grand chandeliers made us picture Sia singing “I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, the chandelier!”

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Peep the tourist.

If you are a Disney fanatic, I bet you would fall in love with this next place we visited. The setting of the Disney movie Anastasia is based on an actual palace in St. Petersburg Russia known as Catherine’s Palace. It felt like a true Disney fairytale upon entering the palace, especially when it came to the palace ballroom. We were surrounded by the brightest of gold decor and the most beautiful painting covering the entirety of the ceiling.

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Loving the Khachapuri!

We then got the BEST food at a Georgian food restaurant including khachapuri, basically bread with a raw egg and cheese in the middle that cooks after they give it to you from how hot the bread is, and Khinkali, which are huge dumplings filled with beef. Wow it was so good! While at the restaurant, Cinthia wanted to practice her Russian with the waiter by ordering a pancake. When he walks over, she proudly says in Russian, “I am a good pancake with condensed milk.” The waiter confusingly responds in Russian “are you a good pancake with condensed milk?” Karen busts out laughing as Cinthia is confused about what just happened, until Karen says she said I am a good pancake instead of I want a pancake!

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Talented Russian dancers for our last night in St. Petersburg.

After the glorious meal we headed to our last show in Russia, Feel Yourself Russian. The show was so fun with traditional Russian costumes and dances with silly tricks mixed in. We all had such cheesy smiles on our faces watching these performers bounce around making high pitched noises along with fun music. It was a great last night of silliness, talent, smiles, and laughter.
For our last church visit we came to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. This was the only church thus far we could take pictures in, and I was so glad because it was absolutely gorgeous. Walking by the colorful illustrations flooding every inch of the walls led to admiration of the beauty of our God, who allowed us such this life-changing opportunity to visit Russia.

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Nothing like exploring, laughing, and building new friendships in this new place.

It was so hard to leave Russia, because of the incredible experience and wonderful memories we had there. We will forever treasure the faces we saw, conversations we had, and laughs we shared in Russia!

 

Russia: Part 1 in Moscow

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Overnight train ride to Moscow, Russia. Choo Choo!

What better way is there to celebrate finishing midterms than going to Russia for spring break!! Packing in itself was an adventure, as we fit 9 days of stuff into a single backpack (mind you the backpack was huge, nearly tipping us over when standing). We bundled up in our winter coats, scarves, hats, and gloves, grabbed our backpacking backpacks, and stepped out of the train into a winter wonderland!

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Tour guide informing the Study abroad group about Kremlin.

We first visited Red Square, Moscow’s main site of tall shopping centers, business buildings, and cathedrals! We had a three hour walking tour inside the walls of the Kremlin. The Kremlin is the political center of Russia, with manly buildings inside including the “White House” of Russia (where Lenin and Stalin sat, and currently Putin sits), 10 churches, and a museum. The churches were so intricate and beautiful, just like all the buildings we saw in Russia, but even more so. The tops of the churches were bright reflective gold, and the walls as white as the falling snow. It was great to take a break from the cold and explore the museum, filled with royal crowns, carriages, silverware, and ball gowns (it was shocking how tiny the waists were, since the ladies took out a couple ribs to shrink their waist size)!

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The circus where many amazing performance were made.

We then headed out for an actual Russian Circus!! There were many acts including juggling, dancing, stunts, and animals! The tricks were unbelievable, daring, and so incredible! We often shuffled in our seats when watching some of the routines, especially as a girl danced across a tightrope on ballet slippers, and even went down into the splits! There was one performance unrelated to stunts which was so captivating as a man sang a song in about a dozen different languages, including Spanish!

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The metro station was filled with beautiful art.

Throughout the trip we constantly used the Metro to get around Moscow. We took a few hours within our Comrade Groups to explore the stations, as each one is absolutely gorgeous with artistically detailed architecture. It was so nice to take a break from rushing train to train and stop to admire the beauty within many stations.

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St. Basil Cathedral always filled with color.

We bounced from several metros until taking one to Red Square to see St. Basil’s Cathedral. To us it was called “The Lolly Pop Church.” The Cathedral has many colorful round swirls at the top, which instantly made us fall in love with being fanatics of bright colorful candy looking things!

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The Russian Market is the best place to get souvenirs at a reasonable price.

We then exchanged our extra money, and rehearsed our Russian in preparation for the Russian Market to get all the souvenirs we’d been waiting for. We spent about 3 hours out in the freezing weather bargaining for madruschka dolls, Christmas ornaments, and music boxes!

 

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The famous madruschka dolls. So many of them, we almost bought them all.

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Christ the Savior, the biggest Orthodox Church in Europe.

After the Market we went into an operating church, known as Christ the Savior, which is recorded as the biggest Orthodox Church in Europe! Out of tradition, all of us girls wrapped our heads in scarves and headed in to see people on there knees praying to God in full dedication, and beautiful worship music ringing throughout the enormous building.

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Borsh, the traditional soup in Russia.

After a cold day it was glorious being warmed up by hot traditional soup, borsh! There could’ve been no better way to end the day than a sugar high with melted chocolates fondue including white chocolate, milk chocolate, and caramel along with marshmallows, strawberries, brownies, and cookies for dipping.

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International Business Centre in Moscow.

For our last day in Moscow we split up to visit different places such as the Moscow International Business Centre, Grand Maket, and Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics. After time taking pictures and exploring the last bit of Moscow we went off on a bullet train to St. Petersburg, where we would finish our spring break trip in Russia.

***Stay tuned for part 2 about St. Petersburg!***

Do Your Internship Abroad

There are so many opportunities when studying abroad to Lithuania to participate in internships, volunteer programs, and even your practicum! We asked several Study Abroad students who are participating in one of these programs to describe their experience so far.

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Ally and her colleague signing people in for CMAP.

Please briefly describe your internship/practicum/volunteering and its daily activities.

Ally: We meet once a week to prepare for our weekly CMAP session. Then, we meet with the students the following day for about two hours. We present a topic related to multiculturalism, play some games, then have tea and cookies. We end the session with discussion questions. We answer questions related to the presentation but afterwards we can talk to the students and get to know them. Additionally, each semester we have two movie nights. We watch a movie related to multiculturalism then have discussion questions afterwards.

Amelia: I am an English teaching assistant. On Mondays and Wednesdays I work with 5th and 6th graders, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I help out with adults. Sometimes I create my own lesson plans or activities and lead the class, but usually I help people with their pronunciation and conversational skills.

Felicia: Every Tuesday and Thursday me and my co-teacher, teach English to adults between the ages of 25-60. Our class is at beginner English level so they are learning a lot of vocabulary and basic grammar points such as he, she, it; to be verbs; possessives; etc. Right now they are learning about family members.

Katie: CMAP is the name of my internship and it stands for community multicultural awareness program. The team is dedicated to discussing topics with high schoolers and making them more aware of the different cultures around them and the importance of being informed. We meet with them once a week and introduce a topic, play a game related to the topic, and end with discussion groups. The discussion groups give us and the students time to reflect on the presentation as well ask and answer any questions.

Paige: I have a psychology practicum at a local elder day care center, and it’s been an incredible experience! I do a lot there, but I mainly teach a yoga/chair exercise class every weekday morning, along with observing individual and group therapy sessions that my supervisor conducts. Everyone is so warm and welcoming at the facility; every day feels like a celebration.

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High school students learning about multiculturalism.

What is your favorite part of your position?

Ally: CMAP is great because you not only work with other students from LCC but you also get to form friendships with students from local high schools. The students get to know more about you and America while I get to know more about Lithuania and their culture. I love being able to form friendships with the students because we compare and contrast our cultures. I love watching them smile when something we do is out of the ordinary for Lithuania. For example, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are apparently an American thing. Something I learned about the students in my specific group is that they not only had to learn Lithuanian growing up but also had to start learning English in elementary school. Then in middle school or high school, they have the choice to take either German or Russian. Many can speak three languages fluently and they are only in high school!

Amelia: My favorite part of this position is getting to learn from amazing teachers while getting to know the students!  I especially love just being able to converse with them and tell them a little bit about the culture of my home state and country.

Felicia: My favorite part is connecting with my students. I am also learning some Lithuanian and I get to have basic conversations in English and in Lithuanian. We have a great group of students who seem to get along with one another and are being challenged with the new content.

Katie: Being able to interact and get to know kids from Lithuania, discuss important topics with them, and have fun.

Paige: One of my favorite parts of my practicum is the projects my supervisor gives me. It sounds weird that I love the “extra work” the most, but I think I’ve learned so much through the projects I’ve completed! It’s really developed my interest in other forms of psychology than what I mainly have studied.IMG_3317

Amelia uses several books to create her lesson plans.

What is the most challenging part of your position?

Ally: Sometimes there might be a language barrier when talking with some of the students. However, other students help translate for their friends. This program is great for local high school students because they not only get to learn about multiculturalism, but they can also practice their English in a safe and welcoming environment.

Amelia: The most challenging part is actually probably not the language barrier! It is more the fact that I have to rediscover the English language!  I have been challenged to think about why we use the expressions we use or what words really mean.  I am falling in love with my own language while daily coming to realize its complexity and perplexity.

Felicia: The challenging part is explaining new vocabulary. However, my co-teacher is from Lithuania, which is helpful for translating difficult vocabulary terms. It’s also challenging that we do not live in an English speaking culture, so I cannot ask the students to practice reading signs and use English daily, since its easier for them to simply speak their native language in their native country.

Katie: The students do not speak English fluently and I do not speak Lithuanian fluently so there is a language barrier that can make it difficult to communicate effectively sometimes.

Paige: The most challenging part for sure has been the language barrier. I don’t speak much Lithuanian or Russian, so it’s difficult to build relationships with the clients verbally since none of them speak English.

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Felicia is taking charge in her teaching internship.

How has your position influenced you thus far?

Ally: Lithuania does not have much diversity so it has been fun not only practicing my public speaking but also teaching students more about multiculturalism. Additionally, it has been so much fun forming relationships with students. The students’ English speaking just amazes me! The students are so intelligent and so sweet. It has been a blast getting to know more about them but also their community, friends, family, education, hobbies, and so much more!

Amelia: This position has encouraged me to think about English and teaching in new ways.  I have become more confident and I have learned that sometimes the best way to teach is just to spend time in conversation.

Felicia: This position has impacted me on how to communicate in my own life more efficiently and effectively.

Katie: This position has influenced me by helping me become more aware of different cultures and how to interact with people from different cultures.

Paige: I think my experience at my site really made me more open to trying out different forms of psychology, like geriatrics, that I wasn’t as interested in before.IMG_3316

Ally and Katie are discussing CMAP events.

What is unique of doing your internship/practicum/volunteering here in Lithuania compared to the States?

Ally: We meet once a week to talk about multiculturalism. There is no incentive really other than some free cookies, practicing English-speaking, and making new friends. Students come right from school and spend two hours with us. It’s a great program and I wish I had something like this when I was growing up. Students get to meet students from other local high schools and as well as meet the leaders from CMAP who represent three different countries. Additionally, students also get to know more about college life since the sessions are held at LCC. There is so much this program offers. The main focus of the program is to focus on multiculturalism but we get to have so much fun in the process as well.

Amelia: I love that my internship is so practical and hands-on here!  In the United States, TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) practicums just involve a lot of classes with maybe one possible hands-on application.  Here, I can apply my skills by teaching students who actually are learning English as a second language!  In the process, I am learning more about their language and culture that is helping me to be a more effective teacher and have more appreciation for the beautiful diversity and languages in our world.

Felicia: I am also learning their language by being emerged into the culture as well as learning in an introduction Lithuanian course. Doing so helps me to understand my students’ frustrations.

Katie: Doing an internship here in Lithuania gives me experience with a different culture than the States would. The other people on my team are from different countries as well and this gives me experience with working and interacting with people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Paige: I think that’s what makes doing a practicum here unique — nonverbal communication is sometimes the only means of interacting with others, and that’s okay.

We hope that this has encouraged you to take part in an internship, volunteer program, or practicum abroad in Lithuania!

 

How To Manage a Dietary Restriction Abroad

We asked several students who have dietary restrictions to share their experience regarding buying and eating food while studying abroad in Lithuania.

 

What is your diet restriction or diet preference?

Paige: Whey (found in dairy) makes me super nauseous. Back home, I mainly eat clean, vegan food because my body generally just feels better without animal products.

Kristina: I’m gluten free—not by choice but because of Celiac.

Katie: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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Kristina cooking her favorite meal.

Were you concerned about being abroad due to your diet?

Paige: Lithuanians LOVE their dairy: cheese, creamy sweets, sour cream, the whole nine yards. Obviously I wanted to feel like I had “authentic” traditional food while living here, but I also didn’t want to be sick for four months. Meat was less of a concern (I occasionally have chicken at home anyway) since many restaurants can easily accommodate vegetarians.

Kristina: I was definitely concerned about accidentally making myself sick while in Lithuania because I knew things wouldn’t be conveniently labeled and especially because I don’t speak the language so I can’t just ask questions.

Katie: A little, I felt as if I knew what I could and couldn’t have and was prepared to figure it out as I went.

Has it been hard finding proper food for you?

Paige: Since we make our own meals in the dorm kitchens, I choose to make all dairy- & meat-free foods. This way, when I go out, I feel like I’m not overloading my body if I have some dairy (like a few pieces of kepta duona!). Most grocery stores have alternative milk options (coconut is my go-to) and even some vegan cheeses and desserts. The quality of food here is great (a lot less preservatives are used), so I feel good about the food I buy and eat.

Kristina: It actually hasn’t been as difficult as I expected to find gluten free food—our fantastic experience coordinator Rugile has asked questions for me when we eat out as a cohort and I already knew at home how to substitute things when I’m cooking for myself. I have even found gluten free pasta and on the rare occasion bread(!!!) in the grocery stores. I generally cook for myself so I can monitor what I’m eating, but it really hasn’t been too difficult!

Katie: Sometimes, when it comes to meat, pasta, or eating out, it’s hard to actually find anything that I can eat that doesn’t cause my gerd symptoms to react.

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Katie’s famous smoothies.

What is your go to meal?

Paige: I love quick-cooking food that I can use in different ways throughout the week. My favorite so far has been a quinoa and lentil salad. I ate it warm the night I cooked it, but in the days after, I ate it cold over arugula with nuts, dried fruit, and a poached egg over top.

Kristina: When I’m cooking for myself, I keep it pretty simple: you’ll find me eating a lot of rice and potatoes. My go-to snack has always been  PB&J, so I’ve managed to completely replace bread with rice cakes; I use them to make peanut butter sandwiches, ham and cheese, and even next to my eggs and bacon in the morning.  You’ve just got to get creative!

Katie: Smoothies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Easy and simple to make.

What do you eat when you go out to restaurants?

Paige: It’s really hard to find things that aren’t likely cooked in butter. However, the dairy here is less processed and hasn’t left me as sick as it does in the States. When at restaurants, I like to get something different every time. I try to stick to foods that aren’t going to be creamy, and you can easily ask for the whipped cream/sour cream to be left out. Potato pancakes are always tasty!

Kristina: I generally stick with meat and vegetables while I’m at restaurants, which has been so easy here because sometimes it seems like the only food for Lithuanians is pork and potatoes, which is perfect for me!

Katie: Going to restaurants is hard because I can never know what is in every dish, so it’s a guessing game and I try to pick dishes that are least likely to upset me.

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Despite all diet restriction we all love kepta duona!

How have you managed to navigate through the grocery store?

Paige: I went to Iki for the first three weeks, then made the grocery store conversion to Rimi. Rimi just has a better layout and lots more options for produce, dairy-free foods, and healthy snacks. Also they have an entire aisle dedicated to teas and coffees.

Kristina: Grocery stores are going to be almost the same in Lithuania as anywhere else, just less things have a label of allergen free. I learned the Lithuanian words for wheat, barley, and gluten so I can check the ingredients for questionable items, but in general I know what I can and can’t eat, so grocery shopping is easy!

Katie: The more time I go to the store the better I become at finding things I need. I’m at the point where I only buy certain things and know where to find them.

Would you recommend people with a special diet to study abroad?

Paige: Don’t let a special diet hinder you from enjoying from time here! There’s so many great options for people in grocery stores and a good variety of restaurants — you’ll love it.

Kristina: If anyone wants to study abroad, a special diet should not be their deterrent, especially in the LCC program. Because you’ll cook most of your meals for yourself you won’t be at the mercy of chefs who don’t understand allergies and you’ll have lots of control over your own health. If you want to make it work, you absolutely can!

Katie: I would say yes it’s definitely worth it but depending on your special diet and how prepared you are might affect your experience.

What are tips you can give future study abroad students who have similar diets?

Paige: If you’re lactose intolerant, bring your Lactaid. If you’re whey intolerant, throw caution to the wind every once in a while. Traditional Lithuanian food is incredible. Even if you can only try a bite or two at a time.

Kristina: First, there are going to be things you simply can’t find here (like corn tortillas🙁) so be prepared for that, but you aren’t going to starve to death. I suggest you learn the Lithuanian words for your allergy before you come just to make things easier and then start building your collection of recipes of things you can eat—without special substitutes like gluten free flour or soy sauce.

Katie: Bring a hand blender, easy to pack in your suitcase and it’s so worth it. I eat smoothies almost every day and eating would be harder without it. Know that there is a lot of good and interesting food that you’ll want to try, eat it, you might not feel good afterwards but I haven’t regretted trying all the food over here.

Classic salad by Paige and midday snack by Kristina.

Thank you to our current study abroad students for taking time to answer our dietary question!