Reminder To The Reader

Dear Reader,

I wanted to take a minute to remind you that you are not alone. I know I did not provide clarification on what “not alone” means, but I am getting there. I wanted to speak about the topic of friends. I know that those that are coming to LCC International University might have a fear of not making friends. It is something that many of us struggle with. Rejection, loneliness, and fear haunt us all. Let me state this as clear as possible, no matter if you are a Freshman coming into college for your first year or you are the Erasmus or Study Abroad student coming for a semester. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We all get scared, but I am here to tell you that the community at LCC International University is nothing, but inviting and warm. All of the people you meet here ranging from your roommates to your professors are people that will impact your life forever. You hear throughout different moments of your life that there are relationships that last a lifetime and you can find those people here. I know I have. Take the chance, face the fear and start a conversation with someone new. You may come into the program with the idea that these are only four months and they are short term, so what is the point of making friendships? Please, do not cloud your mind or block out the opportunities that could be placed in front of you. One of the first things they told us when we first got here was to always say YES to something, anything that someone offers or suggests. If your roommate asks for you to take a day trip to Kaunas and you skip a class or two, know that it is okay. Grades matter, yes, I understand that. But, at the same time please remember that you have one life and one chance to make an impact on someone’s life. Do just that, be in the moment. The here and now. Laugh a lot and live each day with the hope of adventure. The people you surround yourself with makes a big impact on how much you will laugh and love the environment you are in. Remember that.

Lots of Love. Continue to Change the World!

-K.C. 


Getting the Most Out of Your Study Abroad Experience While Living on a Budget

As many of us know, studying abroad has historically been a luxury for the rich. However, times are changing, allowing for a more financially diverse group of people to pursue an education abroad. Studying abroad is one of the most fulfilling experiences of one’s life, and it is important for as many people as possible to take the leap into a crazy adventure on the opposite side of the Earth from everything they know.

While studying abroad there is a heavy pressure to travel… everywhere. Many students see these 4 months as their only time to see Europe. Friends and family back home are expecting you to travel every weekend to a new and exciting destination, but there are many small and cheap weekend getaways you can plan so you don’t break the bank while still fulfilling the need to see the world.

Start by exploring Lithuania. There are many beautiful destinations in your host country to explore. Popular destinations include:

-Vilnius

-Kaunas

-Hill of Crosses (Siauliai)

It is very easy to take a train from Klaipeda to these three cities, and you get ½ off your ticket with your ISIC Card! Lodging for the weekend is also extremely cheap in these three cities. You can use the apps HostelWorld and Airbnb to find the best accommodations for you or your group. A hostel is usually best for 1-3 people, but Airbnbs in Lithuania are super cheap, so if you have a group of 4 or more it is usually better to split the cost of an apartment with everyone.

It is also easy to visit neighboring countries for a very low price point. Poland and Latvia are two very nice countries to explore that are not expensive or too far. We have found that it is easiest to rent a car in Akropolis when visiting neighboring countries. Having a rental car offers more flexibility in where you can go and at what times which is very nice if you aren’t very good at keeping to a strict schedule.

Traveling doesn’t have to be extravagant, and it shouldn’t be for a college student. This is our time to bask in the messiness of travel. It is important to embrace the fact that not everything will be pretty, and that you might get locked out of your Airbnb in Poland forcing you to sleep 7 people in a minivan for a night (yes, this happened to us, but it was honestly a great bonding experience and gives a good laugh now). Learning to let go and embrace the people and culture surrounding you is how you’ll get the most out of your experience abroad.

We’re Back & Better Than Ever

Where have we been you may ask? The world may never know… I want to start this new era of the blog with an apology. I know nothing has been posted in quite some time. The Study Abroad Lithuania staff have had a transition from their Spring Social Media Interns to their Fall Interns. So this is the first blog post written by the Fall Social Media Interns. But, I guess now that is cleared up this is the best time if any to introduce new Social Media Interns and give you a quick life update on what the Fall 2019 Study Abroad Cohort has been up to.

There are three Social Media Interns this fall, Kiera Conkle, Morgan Kaper, and Carter Losey. You can learn more about them on the Meet Our Fall 2019 Interns page. The three of us are actively sharing the role of writing blogs and posting on Social Media. 

Now that you know about the people that are writing this semester let me get you all caught up on what has been happening the past month that we have been abroad, we will have more detailed articles on all these topics at a later date. However, after a few flight delays and different journeys, our Cohort began our study abroad adventure in Vilnius, Lithuania for our orientation week. Throughout these first two weeks, we toured around Vilnius, went to the KGB museum, traveled to Trakai, Nida, and Kretinga, went to the beach and took a lot of pictures and we have tried so much food. 

However, the vacation life ended because we left for LCC International University to get ready for classes. I know that statement may sound kinda sad, but let me tell you we’re still having a blast. During our first month abroad we have got over the jet lag, we have figured out the busing system, we have learned a little Lithuanian, found our favorite places to get coffee and we have made so many new friends. This is just the beginning of our journey and we have so much to share with you! I hope you’re as excited as we are.

Until next time continue to take adventures and try new things. 

-K.C.

Iki Pasimatymo!

~ Cameron ~

“As I say  my final “see you later’s” this upcoming week, I of course find myself reminiscing on some of my favorite memories thus far; The transformation I saw within myself going from anxious to step into a four-month-long journey in Lithuania to NOW being anxious to step back into my life in Pennsylvania; Discovering a newfound love for many countries other than my own including Ukraine, Lithuania, Syria, Iraq, and Russia; Experiencing the sunset on the beach and dipping my toes in the Baltic Sea; Grocery shopping more than 2x a week; and many many more memories that I wish too keep between this country and mwah! I find myself asking others about their study abroad experience including others from my home university, and I am finding that LCC has provided me a much broader and deeper experience that I could have ever expected or imagined. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and fall in love with a place so far away from home, yet so close to my heart. I am beyond amazed at the friendships I have established, the relationship I have strengthened with myself, and the increase in WONDER and JOY I am finding in my journey with God.”

~ Lauren ~

“It’s hard knowing that you have to leave a place and people that you have grown close to and love very much. It’s the last week of my time here in Lithuania and I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my time here. This experience has been the greatest thing for me and I have seen such a change in myself. The me 4 months ago is not the same person I am now, I am so much stronger, more independent, and have developed a deeper love for traveling and seeing new places. I have created a second home here in Klaipeda and will have a hard time saying goodbye. It’s been a good journey though and one that I will never forget. I must say, I am very nervous to go home, excited of course but it will be a challenge going back to the old lifestyle that I have in Rochester, New York ,and there are a lot of things I know will be different within myself that will radiate out into my daily life. I have overcome this 4 month challenge though and I am ready to take new challenges head on.”

~ Megan ~

“This semester has been nothing short of life changing. I have discovered so much meaning during my time here in Lithuania. From beautiful Baltic Sea views, walks through the forest, sunsets on the beach, white winter storms, and magical nights in the places I’ve travelled to, this semester has been unforgettable. I have encountered and adopted a new way of life that I had not expected. I now understand the importance of being intentional with your time and the relationships you make. I have also grown to appreciate the spontaneous moments that are full of life,and in them I see God’s hand. These are the moments I will forever remember. I have loved befriending new people, deepening relationships, and encountering and embracing new cultures. It is very bittersweet leaving this place that I have come to call home. Here, I have learned more about myself and grown as a person while making friendships with some of the best of people. Klaipeda, Lithuania will always hold of piece of my heartAs for now, I will take these life-shaping experiences, newly formed relationships, and new found appreciation for the world, its beauty, and all the people in it with me as I take my first few steps into the next journey.”

 

We won’t say good-bye, but just see you later to our home here in Lietuva.

 

Reflection

We are nearing the end – approximately 11 more days in the semester, 19 until I see my family, friends, and boyfriend. This downhill stride is one that is full of excitement anticipating those reunification’s, however, it comes with a pit in your stomach knowing you must leave the place you have called home for FOUR whole months.

This semester has taught me many things – personally, relationally, and spiritually.

#1. Intentionality: I have learned the importance of being intentional in relationships and friendships. I have also learned who from back home were intentional about hearing and experiencing the things here in Lithuania with me. I was amazed at how creative some got in their letters, packages, and even text messages in attempting to show their love towards me. I found that relationships can in fact make it despite the distance. You learn how to adapt to the time difference, although, ask me the first month I were here and I would have most likely shed a tear from exhaustion and frustration.

I have also learned how important it is to be intentional with myself. I am firm advocate for self-care and living a healthy lifestyle. That, of course, can take many forms depending on the person. I admit, my body was not happy with the changes that were occurring around me. I needed to find a new routine that worked for me and not feel guilty for taking an hour or two by myself to recuperate.

#2. Communication: I had assumed I was a good communicator prior to leaving, hah, think again Cam. It wasn’t until leaving until I realized I actually suck at communicating and needed to learn how to effectively do so. I was grateful for the patience that my friends and family had with me through the process, even the friends here with me. I learned that with being miles away from home, communication is all you got. You cannot physically go and hug that person after a rough day, you have to simply talk about it. Although it was difficult, I would not have it any other way. This semester has shown me what strength in relationships looks like. There is such beauty in debriefing with your significant other or friends about a rough day and being able to share with that with them by simply ‘talking’ about it and reflecting on your day.

#3. Self-confidence: This semester has taught me a greater appreciation for myself as an individual, and as a daughter in Christ. I have embarked on journey’s this semester that I would have never in a million years imagined I would have experienced. Who would have thought I would be navigating Russia with a group of once-strangers? I have seen myself go from anxious about navigating airports and cities to one struttin’ confidently through international airports and the city of Klaipeda. I have experienced the heaviness of being away from family and friends, who I once depended on to uplift me and remind me of my worth. But, I was forced to rely on myself and my God in Heaven for the reinforcement of my worth. I began to understand how transformative separating oneself from ‘comfort’ can be in one’s life. I am so grateful for the newfound confidence I have in myself. I am incredibly proud of myself for willingly choosing to step on that plane in Washington and head to a country I knew nothing about.

#5. Cultural competency: For this one, two stories are needed. Back track a couple weeks and I find myself sitting in the 3rd floor kitchen when a boy walks in. We start a conversation which leads to talk about faith and religion. He proceeds to tell me about his Muslim faith and asks me to articulate my beliefs for him. All of a sudden he blurts out, “Ya know, I just feel the need to tell you that not all of us are terrorists. We are actually really peaceful people.” My heart sunk and I still remember that moment like it were yesterday. The realness in his voice struck me. I of course knew that already but his words were so personal and real that it pierced through me. Here was a freshman from Afghanistan feeling the need to defend his religion and his people to some irrelevant American girl. I was honored but I also was taken back all at the same time.

Despite all of the ups and downs this semester, it has been one of the most invigorating and fulfilling four months of my life. I have created such incredible relationships here and back home, but most importantly, with myself. I continue to amaze myself everyday here.

I encourage you to say “yes” more than you say “no”, dive head first into the semester even though you are uncomfortable, go to chapel, go see the sunset on the beach, and so many other things!

~ Cameron, Messiah College

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

The semester is coming to a close, and I am finding it hard to really grasp that my time is almost over here in Lithuania. This study abroad experience has been nothing less than life changing. I have experienced another culture, travelled to different countries, and made a home here in Klaipeda. I definitely did not expect all of this.

I remember back to our first week in Lithuania, starting in Vilnius. It seems like just yesterday, but at the same time, it feels like years ago. I remember being shy and nervous about this new experience, and very unsure. Who would have known that after 4 months I would go from feeling restless and overwhelmed to settled and content in this new place? If you told me that I would see Poland, an item on my life bucket list, or stand in front of the Baltic Sea so many times, or even enjoy going grocery shopping by myself, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, all of these things and so much more have happened.

One of the main reasons I will miss Klaipeda so much is because I have settled more into myself here. I didn’t realize this was happening until after the Russia trip. I feel more secure in making decisions and even taking time to go out with friends or even just by myself.  Studying abroad has taught me to embrace more of an independent and intentional spirit, which I never realized I needed before. I truly love who I have and am still becoming due to my experiences here. Klaipeda will always hold a very dear and special place in my heart. It’s home.

Of course, Klaipeda has become home for other reasons as well. I love going into the city, especially now with the beautiful weather. My favorite moment is when the bus passes the main square and crosses the bridge into Old Town. I love looking at the boat and seeing the coffee shops. Now, it is so familiar and comforting. I go into the city to explore, to study, and just to breathe. A lot of this happens at coffee shops, and I am not complaining! 10 Tiltu, Musangas, and Caffeine are my favorite places for chilling with friends, journaling, and getting some homework done. I will definitely miss these places and all of the delicious bakeries and walking through Theatre Square for different events when I go back to my home in the States.

Studying abroad in Lithuania has also taught me the value of spontaneity and intentionality. Some of my favorite memories were the ones that happened randomly, like going out late to see the Light Festival on Valentine’s Day or saying yes to a friend for going out to get coffee or kebabs or seeing the sunset on the beach. These are treasures. It has also been rewarding to be more intentional with people, both familiar and new. I have met new friends among the study abroad students and the LCC community. Again, coffee at coffee shops or even dinner or lunch at a new place are a great way to get to know someone better. (A theme is emerging here…can you guess where I like to spend my time?)

I know my time as a student here must come to an end (but does it have to?!). I will be taking back so much with me: a new outlook on the world, a high appreciation for different cultures, new words from a few languages, and new and valuable friendships. It’s a little bittersweet for me since I am not sure when I will be back in Lithuania, but I will be back one day! I don’t know what will come next on my journey, but I will have all of these things with me. Lithuania is truly a gem of a country with so much to offer and to teach you. The next chapter is about to begin shortly, and the journey continues on.
Labai ačiū Lietuva. Aš tave myliu.

~Megan

Messiah College

 

My Study Abroad Experience: A Reflection

The me 4 months ago would’ve told you I wasn’t ready to study abroad. She would’ve said she wasn’t brave enough and was terrified to leave her life behind for 4 long months. But I got on that plane, terrified, not knowing where exactly I was going or what I was getting myself into or if I was even going to be able to do it. The me today will say that studying abroad has been the best decision I’ve ever made and I would do it again in a heartbeat! Studying abroad has changed my life, I am now more confident. I have found my purpose in life and have found my strength. I’ve learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of and I know now that I can accomplish anything, and I’m strong enough to be alone even in a foreign place! I have become so much more courageous these past few months and I’m not afraid to be a leader and take charge now. I’ve interacted and learned about so many different cultures so my world view has expanded so much as well. Hearing so many different opinions and learning about so many different cultures has opened my mind up to new ideas and new ways of looking at things. I’m not afraid to be alone anymore. I’m not afraid to do things out of my comfort zone, I’ve realized that my fears are just fears and I can’t keep feeding them!

I also have a different take on traveling in that I will not just be a tourist, but I will make a home in every place I go and make a point to learn their history and be a part of their culture. I’ve really learned to become a part of the culture I’m in and see it as a place where people grew up and have their own lives and not just an amusement park to see just tourist things. Of course, seeing tourist things will still happen but I also want to take time to see the coffee shops, bakeries, book stores, restaurants and other shops. I’ve now been to 6 different countries in 4 months. Never would I have thought I’d be able to do that! I’ve walked through all these countries and navigated my way around, I’ve learned some of the language and I’ve learned the history!

As for Klaipeda, it will always be my second home, the place where I found my true self, where I found amazing people, where I spoke a different language, where I mastered public transportation, and where I found a new look at life and traveling. Living in Klaipeda, Lithuania has been the most wonderful thing ever, I will truly miss everything about it when I leave and it will always have a piece of my heart! For anyone even remotely thinking about studying abroad, DO IT! It will bring nothing but goodness to your life! It will be scary and nerve wracking at first but after the first 2 weeks you forget why you were even scared! I’ve wanted to study abroad since high school, I almost didn’t because I was too scared and didn’t think it would work out but I pushed through that fear and I do not regret it one bit!

As for coming to LCC university, it had given me so many opportunities to grow as well. What’s cool about LCC is that it’s literally one of a kind, it’s the only school of its kind within the European nation. It’s 68% international students, from the US to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc. and 32% Lithuanians. LCC sends a clear message of wanting genuine growth out of everyone who attends, it’s a place to get to know new people from different places and will definitely leave a lasting impact on you! There are so many opportunities to get involved and be a part of LCC culture!

As I look back on myself 4 months ago, first coming here I thought this experience wouldn’t change me that much and that I wouldn’t grow or gain much out of it. Now, forwarding ahead 4 months I realize how much I have actually changed, I’ve become such a different person than I was when I first got here. I’ve become a more open, confident, strong and my worldview has also changed completely. I’ve also gotten so much out of this experience, learning about and seeing new cultures, living in a new culture, learning some new language, living life on my own and being in a foreign country living my life. It’s crazy to think what 4 months can do, 4 months that I thought would be long and hard but we’re actually short and challenging in the best way possible.

Overall, I’m sad my time in Lithuania is coming to a close, I’ve made this place my second home and I will miss it dearly. I will definitely be coming back here the first chance I get!

~ Lauren

Roberts Wesleyan