5 Things I LOVE about Lithuania

I can’t believe that we are already through most of February now! It has been a great month, full of exciting adventures and increasing familiarity with our new home in Lithuania. As I have gotten to know and experience more about this gem of a country, I have discovered some things that I truly love about it here.

  1. Its History- Lithuania has a rich and long history. Early in its history as a Baltic state, Lithuania was ruled under their only king, Mindaugas. Over the years, Lithuania was divided among various countries. Lithuania also experienced devastating hardship during WWII and afterwards under Soviet Occupation. However, Lithuanians became resilient and illegally distributed books in order to preserve their language. Aother Independence movement emerged, and with huge gatherings and the Singing Revolution, Lithuania declared independence in 1990. Just this Saturday, the country celebrated Lithuania’s 101 Independence Day! In the aftermath oProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetf the Russian Revolution in the early twentieth century, Lithuanian’s declared their independence, and many commemorated this event this past Saturday. It is so interesting to see the history of Lithuania and know that many still alive today lived through pivotal moments in Lithuania’s history. There is so much more to learn, but I love this country’s fortitude and resiliency!
  2. Old Town- I also love Old Town, or Senamiestis, Processed with VSCO with f2 presethere in Klaipeda! There are so many coffee shops, ships, old buildings, and sculptures. One day, I plan on walking around Klaipeda to find (hopefully) all of the sculptures. There are also different events that happen in Old Town like the Festival of Lights and even some of the Independence Day celebrations. Old Town is a great place to walk around, have some coffee, talk, or even journal. And it’s so easy to get to by bus (bus 14) or foot!
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  3. The Food- So, basically, my favorite food here is Kepta Duona! I saw previous study abroad students post about it, and the hype was well worth it! It’s fried bread with cheese and garlic sauce, and it is super tasty! Some other favorites include potato pancakes, cepelina, kebabas and kibinai. Also, last Wednesday at LCC’s Lithuanian Independence Day event, I tried tinginys, which is a chocolate desert with cookies inside. I am definitely going to try to make some in the future. But, before you get to LCC, I’ll just leave you with some of these kepta duona pictures!
  4. The Baltic Sea- I love the ocean back home since it is so calming and beautiful. Seeing the Baltic Sea was something I was most Processed with VSCO with f2 presetlooking forward to doing here in Lithuania. During orientation week, we randomly walked to the sea, and the sun was shining and reflecting off of the water.  It was perfect and so breathtakingly beautiful. I also have been to the sea from LCC. You can either walk or take a bus. There’s also a tiny coffee shop on the beach too. I definitely will be taking trips to the sea to just take a walk break with friends, do some homework, or even have a picnic. Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
  5. The Unexpected Moments-Before coming to LCC, I didn’t have many expectations of what my time here would for sure look like. Since I didn’t know what to expect, I have been genuinely surprised and blessed by different moments here. I love the weather. It is so beautiful right after it snows here, and the world is so quiet. But I also love the unexpected sunshine that makes the city and school come alive. I enjoy encounters with people in shops where I can just barely understand our conversation with my limited Lithuanian, but we still can communicate. Unexpected adventures to new coffee shops or restaurants are filled with such fun. I was even so excited to  randomly find a sculpture that I had seen pictures of on Pinterest months before coming here. I have been trying to say, “Yes,” to doing more things here, and that’s when I experience more of this country in these moments.

Lithuania has so much to offer you. It is a uniquely beautiful place. Be open to this experience, and I’m sure you will learn to love Lithuania too.

Culture shock: How to deal with it

Culture shock was something I knew about but never really understood what it was or what it felt like to experience. Now I understand it – it can be very frustrating at times and make you want to retreat to your own culture and never come back.

For me, culture shock was coming to the realization that other people do not live like me, do not have the same values and traditions, and do not even listen to the same music as I do. Culture shock was being frustrated with grocery shopping because nothing is your own language, trying to communicate with people who do not speak your language either, or even trying to take the bus.

While it is overwhelming and frustrating, that doesn’t mean it’s not manageable or even a bad thing. To cope with culture shock, I’ve learned a few things. When things get frustrating, just go with it, laugh it off, or simply smile. When I grocery shop, for instance, I just try different things and see what they are and eventually I learned a few words for finding the things I need. Over time, grocery shopping became second nature because I learned what was what and I picked up on the words. As well as communicating with other people, I practiced the phrases I needed to get around and the words I needed to know and with some time communicating and getting around was a lot easier.

It’s also important to realize that you are in someone else’s home country now and that they might be just as frustrated trying to communicate with you but most importantly we need to put the tourist vibe aside. What I mean by this is not letting your culture impose on the one you’re in now. Learning and immersing yourself in this new culture is what you should really focus on. Just learn and go with the flow, be someone who invests time into the culture, have an open mind, and let that culture leave an imprint on you. Since I’ve started doing this I feel a lot more at home here in Klaipeda. I feel more part of the culture and the community as well. The more I learn about Lithuania, the most I learn to love it.

Culture shock is by no means a bad thing if you go about it the right way!

16.02.19 – A Day of Independence

A town filled with charismatic locals waving flags and professing their allegiance to Lithuania.

A weekend of lights, music, food, and fun.

It is Lithuania’s Independence Day! A day that the people of Lithuania profess their love and adoration for this beautiful country.

On the 16th of February in 1918,  Lithuania’s Act of Independence was signed, declaring the founding of the modern Republic of Lithuania. In the second World War, Lithuania was first occupied by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. As the war ended, German soldiers retreated and the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania. On March 11, 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Baltic states to declare its independence.

That being said, it has taken Lithuania quite a long time to become what it is today. Today was a day to remember the dedication and persistence that Lithuanian’s possess and to express the outstanding amount of love in this country.

 

 

 

Suite Living

Never shared a space with more than one person? Have you been constricted to dorm life up until now? Well, here is your chance to finally get a taste at living with 3-4 roommates…who happen to be international…how cool.

The suites at LCC are split between two main buildings; Neumann and Enns. There was no particular order (at least to my knowledge) that we were split between the two buildings, however, a significant amount of study abroads are living in Neumann. LCC students are given the option of hosting international students every semester, therefore, the students you are living with were expecting you.

Both dorm buildings have at least 5-6 floors, divided into EAST and WEST sides, with about six rooms on each floor along with a large lounge and kitchen area. This space is perfect for communal cooking as well as quiet study. You typically can find me in the lounge – there are large windows which let in the little sunlight that Lithuanian receives! There are RA’s assigned to each floor. Forewarning, they are co-ed, therefore, the opposite sex will be meandering freely.

Each suite is split into two sides, a two bed side and a three bed side which has a bunkbed. Typically, study abroads stay in the two bedroom side unless you decide amongst your roommates that you are staying in the three bedroom (which was my case!) Both rooms are divided by a sink area and a refrigerator. You also share a toilet and a shower, which both have doors – yay privacy! Also, do not worry about bringing your own sheets, they will be given to you. I do advise bringing your own pillowcase and small blanket. It will make your room feel more like home.

Students are paired with 3-4 international roommates – which means, they can come from many different countries and cultures. I am currently living with 3 Ukrainian girls, whereas a friend of mine is living with one Lithuanian, one Ukrainian, and one Kazakhstan student. You will be an expert on the countries your roommates call home by the end of the semester.

Suite Living is a unique way at providing students with a cultural experience while pursuing an education. It is set up in a way to help you learn more about other cultures and groups of people, as well as learning about yourself and how you interact with others. You will have the chance at trying new food as well as activities, games, and movies. At times you will get discouraged and wish you were back in your comfortable dorm environment, however, I encourage you to embrace this opportunity to firsthand witness cultural growth and relationships evolving right in front of you! In essence, you will learn to love the concept of suite living and experiencing life with new people.

How to Get Involved at LCC

During your time abroad, it’s important to get involved! Leaving the dorm room and engaging with the community opens up a way for interacting with students. There are so many opportunities here at LCC. I definitely appreciate all that there is to do. I try and finish my homework during the afternoon, so that I can go participate in activities with other students later in the day. This is a great way to meet new people and encounter new cultures.

Here a few opportunities that you will have when you come here:

  • Independence Days– There are over 40 countries represented at LCC. During the semester, students present their country, its food, music, and traditions for others to learn about. This past week, we celebrated Kazakhstan’s Independence Day. It was such a vibrant atmosphere and a great introduction to a culture I had no previously encountered before. Students played games, watched music videos, and tired some delicious food. Next week we have a Lithuanian Independence Day, and I am so excited! Everyone has such a fun time hanging out and learning about another culture together.

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  • Student Life If you are looking to fellowship with other students or to just ask questions about faith, then there is a Bible study for you. Also, every Wednesday, we have chapel during the lunch period and are able to worship together and listen to a message. Students have the opportunity to be involved with the worship band. Some study abroad students and I are participating in this group, and I have loved getting to meet new people and worshiping with students from other countries.

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  • Alpha-Although this group does fall under Student Life, it is a special weekly gathering that I just wanted to mention. Once a week, students and faculty gather and share a meal together. Then, they watch a movie discussing different parts of faith. Afterwards, students discuss topics presented in the movie. This is an open place for students to ask questions and even answer them about faith. I went this week and will be attending for the rest of the semester. I really appreciated the time to be around people and discuss our ideas.

  • Clubs– If you are looking for a specific group to get involved with, LCC does have a list of clubs. These include clubs for movies, science, chess, dance, and even more! Also, if you want to start a club during your time here, you definitely could!
  • Athletic Games and Activities- Some of our study abroad students have attended the different soccer and basketball games here. Go Moose! Some have also participated in the pick up volleyball games as well. There are also Zumba and Yoga classes if you are looking to destress and workout in a fun way!

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  • Internships- As a study abroad student, you will have the chance to apply for an internship with the program. This allows you to work with faculty in a variety of ways. This blog is run by the Social Media interns, but there are also interns working in the Writing Center, the Communication/Marketing Department, in a classroom for teaching the English language, and in the CIE office for planning events on campus. Fun fact: One of the study abroad students is currently an English tutor for a young girl in the community. She is fluent is three languages, English now being her fourth!

In order to enjoy and love your time here in Lithuania, it’s so important to get involved. Our cohort was encouraged to do this, and I am definitely challenging myself to do so. Get out there and take a risk and engage with the community! My challenge for you would to join a group you wouldn’t normally participate in at your home university. By becoming more involved, this experience will be all the more rewarding for you!

Sėkmės! (Good luck!)

Orientation: What to expect!

Labas from Lithuania!

This is the beginning of our fourth week here in Lithuania, and we wanted to catch you up on all that we have experienced, most of which happened during our orientation week.

The study abroad students flew in from all over the U.S., many of us connecting in countries like Amsterdam, Poland, and Germany before even arriving in Lithuania. Once we stepped off the plane and were greeted by the study abroad staff, our journey soon began.

We stayed in a hostel in of Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania. In the following days, we visited many coffee shops, explored the Old Town, and tried traditional Lithuanian food. We also spent some time at the Museum of Genocide Victims, which described the role of the KGB in Lithuania. It was a sobering experience and introduced us to the reality of Lithuanian history.

After a short stay in Vilnius, we left the capital and visited the castle in Trakai. The castle sits in the middle of a lake. When we went, the snow fell perfectly as we ventured through the castle and made our way back to the other side for lunch. If you have ever seen The Chronicles of Narnia, that’s what this place reminded us of. Also, if your orientation group visits Trakai, you need to try Kibanai! It is a savory pastry with meat inside!

Soon thereafter, we arrived to LCC! We were finally able to unpack our bags and settle down for a night. It felt nice to be back in the familiarity of a dorm room. Some of us even ventured out for our first grocery store run.

As a last trip for the closing of our orientation trip, we attended a traditional Catholic church in Kretinga, which was an eye-opening experience to be a part of another culture’s and even denomination’s worship experience. That day, we also tried Kepta Duona, a fried cheesy bread heaven, and bubble waffles while on the boardwalk in Palanga.

Needless to say, our orientation week was packed full of exciting sites and new experiences. It was a great way to start our semester here in Lithuania! When studying abroad, is important to try new activities and immerse yourself in another culture in order to learn the most from it.

Although our expectations may not be reality at times, our experiences here are helping us to grow and to learn the most that we can during our time in beautiful Lithuania!

Here are a few pointers in regards to preparing for your first week in this beautiful country…

  • Shower shoes (flip-flops or slides) are a must for the hostels/hotels that you will be staying in not only during orientation week but for future travel
  • Small toiletries (You will get a chance to purchase some items at small shops along the way, however, it is the little things that we seemed to be needing such as Q-tips, tiny travel size shampoo and lotion…)
  • Scarves, gloves, hats! Lithuania is naturally COLD, therefore, you will need to be dressed accordingly. If you feel like a bundled up snowman that cannot move its arms, then you are dressed appropriately and you will not be the only one dressed as such.
  • A positive attitude. You are about to embark on such a transformative journey and we fully acknowledge that you may be feeling uncomfortable, scared, and a surplus of other feelings, however, be present on the strolls through Vilnius, the museums, and the fun restaurants they take you too. You will have these memories for the rest of your life. Have FUN and LOVE life here!

 

We are back!

Labas!

bloggers

We would like to take a moment to introduce ourselves as your Spring 2019 Social Media Intern Team, specifically those of us in charge of the blog.

Our bloggers for this semester are Cameron Walker and Megan Hamilton from Messiah College in Pennsylvania, and myself, Lauren Walker, from Roberts Wesleyan College in upstate New York! To meet the other talented people on this team, visit the “About” page and get to know them a bit.

We are so excited to be on this journey with you for the next 3 months. Our goal for this semester is to show you what it means to be a study abroad student and to immerse ourselves in Lithuanian culture as well as other cultures. We want to take you on our trips and experiences around Lithuania and give you plenty of advice on living abroad and loving your semester here.

Stay tuned for our February theme of “Learning to love…” where we will be talking about how to love yourself, local living, and finding the good in our time here at LCC.