Labas! I had the opportunity to interview a friend of mine who is also a SALT student. She has opened up and shared her study abroad experiences to help potential students know what to expect when they arrive.
What is your name and where are you from?: “Janell Ryan and I am from Long Island, New York.”
What is your home College and Major?: “I attend Messiah College and major in English and Psychology.”
Why did you choose LCC?: “I choose LCC becuase I have a friend who lives in Estonia. I saw this as a major reason to come here and meet her in person. Also, another big reason I came here was for the Russia trip. I would love Russia. It didn’t work out to go to Russia, but it was still fun, and Georgia was totally worth it too. The final reason I choose LCC is because it was in a country I never heard of. I had a general idea of where Lithuania was, but I knew nothing about it. I like jumping into the unknown.”
What has been your favorite thing you have done while in Lithuania?: “I went on a date with my mom at the beach through skype and I showed her the sunset while it was lunch time where she was. It was a very sweet time. I didn’t bring candles though. It wasn’t as romantic. She was wearing nice pajamas. And I couldn’t compete with her. Haha. It was a really nice time with my mom even though we are separated by so many miles.”
Where have you gone other than Lithuania and do you plan to travel more while here?: “I have been to Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Georgia so far. I am planning on going to the UK and Ukraine! The place that I was most looking forward to was the trip to Estonia becuase that where my friend lives and I finally got to see her. It was super crazy because we had never heard each other’s voices, but only pictures of each other. It was so cool to meet her finally and spend the whole day with her. I got to see really cool places in Estonia that the other study abroad didn’t see.”
What’s your favorite story you will be able to tell from your time here in Europe?: “The first night we were in Georgia, we went out to eat with a small group of friends. We were just eating and chilling then an older man comes up to us and starts speaking English. It wasn’t his first language clearly, but he tried to communicate with us. He was talking about how much he loved America and how he was so happy Americans were in Georgia. He showed a picture of his daughter who was studying in America. He was so nice and kept saying how much he loved us being in his home country. I was put off a bit becuase in New York people dont do that, but it was really cool to see in general how open and friendly people are. They are more trusting and open here, especially in Eastern Europe. It was really cool.”
What is it like studying abroad?: “Its okay I guess.. haha. It’s really good, more than good. It’s something I didn’t think I would be able to do. Its something that I have always wanted to do, but I didn’t think I actually would do it, and now I’m doing it. It’s so cool to see so many countries in one place and see all the different cultures blend in. Its a lot of cultures all in one and I like that a lot. I have learned a lot about Europe in general, but also about different Eastern European countries. Including Ukraine since my roommates are from there. It’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do if I were to stay at home. I’m happy and very grateful that I could come here.”
Where are you roommates from and what are they like?: “All three of my roommate are from Ukraine. One from Western Ukraine and the other two are from Eastern Ukraine (which is pretty different even though they are from the same country.) They all like talking a lot and they are very loud, in a good way. They enjoy singing and dancing. I get to listen to free music so I go with it!”
How do you handle being around people from so many different cultures?: “I guess, it’s not as stressful as I thought it would be since back home I work with a lot of people from Central and South America and even those countries are super diverse from each other. So, I guess I’m more used to different cultures than other people would be. It also helps that everyone on campus speaks English, but it also makes me feel bad that I dont speak their language. It can be a little overwhelming since on my floor everyone speaks Russian, except me. It can feel a little isolating, but you have to consider you are a study abroad. People dont single me out becuase of that. They still are welcoming.”
What would you tell yourself at the beginning of the semester knowing what you know now?: “Dont stress about your roommates. They will be chill. They won’t be crazy. Dont forget to be spontaneous.”
What is the thing you will miss the most when you get home?: “I am definitely going to miss the freedom that you have here. It’s so easy to just hop on a bus and go somewhere. The beach is not even a 15 min ride from LCC. Old Town is only a 5-minute bus ride from LCC. There are so many places to go around LCC. I am not used to this becuase at my college there is nothing around the campus. Here it’s so nice to walk around at night, feel safe and end up in a nice park or a forest trail. I can go for a walk from 9pm to 12am by myself and listen to music. I feel very safe and I dont have to carry a knife or pepper-spray like I do at home because I feel so safe here. So its nice not to feel like I will get taken or hurt by someone even though its dark outside and I’m by myself. All the food! McDonald’s here is very good. I will miss all the food becuase it’s so good and fresh here. I will also miss all the coffee shops. I feel like coffee shops that they have here aren’t a thing in the states.”
What advice would you give to future SALT students?: “Pack fewer clothes than you are thinking, and even less than you just imagined. Get an international phone plan. FOR REAL. Make sure you have a data plan because it’s annoying to get SIM cards here. Also, in your carry on put an extra outfit because if your luggage gets lost you will feel disgusting for the first week like I did. When you schedule for classes to take here, take classes that actually count for your major becuase if you take classes that don’t transfer it will make your time here more relaxed but you will regret it next semester and get behind.”
Would you recommend SALT?: “Yes, Of course, I would. I’m not being paid to say that I promise. Even though LCC is pretty small and probably smaller than you are thinking that it is, it is a really nice close-knit community. Also, while you are here you can go so many places. With the study abroad program you go to three different countries other than Lithuania. For me, since I had never left America that is a lot. Even places that you have never even heard of like Moldova or Georgia is easy to get to by yourself. Lithuania is in a nice easy accessible place in the world. Even in Lithuania, you can go to some really cool places like the Hill of Crosses, which I only knew from my friend that lives here. Or you can go to Vilnius which is.. wow… It’s such a nice place especially since you get to spend a week there when you first arrive in Lithuania. Kaunas or Palanga is also very close to LCC and they are really nice places to go and they are still in Lithuania. So even if you dont have the money to travel to other countries you can still travel in Lithuania and go to really cool places that you probably wouldn’t go to otherwise.”
It was so great getting to talk with Janell about her experiences here at LCC. I hope through her and her words you can see how great studying abroad in Lithuania truly is!