The Final Stretch

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As we enter into our last 5 weeks in Lithuania, we continue to reflect on what it means to be a traveler rather than a tourist. We have all discovered that there is so much to learn from other cultures and their people–from Russia to Poland to Spain and everywhere else we have gone, our most valuable memories from each beautiful country are of the cultural differences we see being lived out. This quote is what keeps coming to mind as I plan out my last few weeks abroad and prepare to head back to the States soon. I want to see all that the world has to offer because each new place adds something to my worldview and understanding of our Creator and continues to teach me to appreciate people who live differently than myself. 🙂

Moscow, Russia

After an equally exciting and tiring week spent exploring Russia, we are back at LCC and ready to finish our last 6 weeks here (WHAT??) strong! Our time in Russia was one of growth and one full of once in a life time experiences.We spent 3 days in Moscow and got to see pretty much all of the sites one would think of when thinking about Russia’s capital city. We got to explore Kremlin at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, and the Alexander Garden. We got to pose for silly photos in Red Square, in front of and inside of St. Basil’s Cathedral (the most beautiful building in the world, if I do say so myself!), and see Lenin’s preserved body in his tomb. We survived the Moscow Metro, which in and of itself was a huge accomplishment, ate some delicious Russian cuisine, and experienced a traditional Russian circus. In other words, what didn’t we do?

We started the trip with a 4 hour bus ride to Riga, where we stopped along the way to see the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. During the fight for independence, Lithuanian Christians were being oppressed. They started putting crosses in the ground to show they would not give up their faith, but the Soviet soldiers would take them right back out. The more oppression they faced, the more crosses they stood. Now lay millions of crosses on a small piece of land, representing the perseverance of the Lithuanian Christians, and showing an example of how God’s love can spread through human beings.

Then we spent 19 hours on a train from Riga, Latvia to Moscow, Russia. Here are some of our favorite things we did during our three days in Moscow:

Even the Metro was breathtaking! ^^

Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral (inside and out, day and night), Lenin’s tomb, matryoshka dolls, more cathedrals, goofy pictures 🙂

Russian circus! (with real lions and tigers, oh my!)

Countdown to Russia

We leave for Russia in less than 24 hours, and we couldn’t be more excited! After weeks of trip prep and Russian lessons, all that’s left to do is pack and get on the road. We will be spending spring break in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, the two most beautiful cities in Russia, seeing places like Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Hermitage, and much more! Here are some cool things about Russia I bet you didn’t know:

  1. Russia is bigger than the former planet Pluto.
  2. There are almost 10 million more women in Russia than men.
  3. Russia and America are less than 4 km apart at their nearest point.
  4. The Hermitage Museum has cats to protect the art from rodents. Each cat even has their own room in the basement.
  5. Beer wasn’t considered an alcoholic beverage in Russia until 2013.
  6. Traffic can be so bad in Moscow that wealthy Russians hire fake ambulances just to beat the rush.
  7. The Moscow metro is the fastest metro in the world, and also the most beautiful.
  8. There are 11 different time zones within Russia, more than any other country.

In our Russian lessons, we practiced the Cyrillic alphabet and learned some key words and phrases to take with us. Here are some of the must-know Russian words we’re working really hard to remember for our trip:

Привет  (privet) – hi, hello

как дела? (kak dela) – how are you?

пожалуйста (pozhaluysta) – please

Спасибо (spasiba) – thank you

английский (angliyskiy) – English

We may not have them down pat, but we have a 20 hour journey there to practice them some more! We’ll post lots of pictures and adventures to the blog when we get back from the trip! yвидимся, (see you later)  friends!

 

Come To Lithuania!

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Study Abroad Lithuania is now accepting applications for Fall 2016! LCC International University has over 60 countries represented in its student body and the experience of living with Eastern Europeans is a one in a lifetime opportunity! Talk to your home university study abroad office to learn more–applications are due by March 15th, so be a risk taker and check out this link for more information: https://www.lcc.lt/study-abroad-application/!

Top Five Reasons to Come to Lithuania:

  1. KEPTA DUONA. This Lithuanian delicacy consists of fried bread covered in a cheesy garlic sauce, and it can literally be found everywhere in Lithuania! Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 5.01.23 PM
  2. Trips to Russia, Latvia & Estonia. No other study abroad program builds in (and pays for) trips to three other countries! When else will you have the chance to get a Russian visa and spend a week in Moscow and St. Petersburg? And, before you go, you learn some of the history of the culture and the language so you can fully appreciate the experience.
  3. The Baltic Sea. Easy access to the Sea and its sunsets are some of the highlights of living in the coastal city of Klaipėda for four months!IMG_3626 (1)
  4. Living with Eastern European roommates. As a study abroad student, you are placed in a room with three or four other roommates from Eastern Europe. This allows you to live a true European lifestyle while also breaking stereotypes about their culture and your own. I live with two girls from Belarus and one from Ukraine, and it’s probably the most educational and rewarding part of the semester in Lithuania!
  5. Experiencing yourself and God interculturally. Being thrown into a different culture as quickly and fully as an international university requires, you are given an opportunity to learn about God in ways you may not have experienced Him in the States. Living in a Catholic country and being at a Christian university with Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Muslim students is an experience unique to study abroad Lithuania!

If you don’t believe me that applying to spend your semester in Lithuania will be one of your best decisions, here are what some other study abroad students think about it so far:

“If you’re looking for a place that pushes you outside of your comfort zone and provides  you with experiences that allow for personal growth and diverse cultural interactions, study abroad Lithuania is the perfect program!” – Allison, from Wheaton College

“Lithuania is a great location if you’re hoping to explore as much of Europe as possible in your semester abroad! I get to learn about and invest in Lithuanian culture while also traveling and seeing other parts of the world.” -Rachel, from Azusa Pacific University

LCC Celebrates American Independence

The LCC student body represents 30 different countries, and every year the school celebrates the Independence Day of each of them! For the ones that fall on a day outside of the school year, like the Fourth of July, a different day is assigned and the students from that country are in charge of preparing food and games to present their culture to others. Tonight we celebrated American Independence!

It was challenging to think of ways to celebrate without a BBQ and fireworks, but eventually we came up with other fun, ‘traditional American’ ideas! We hosted a version of America’s Got Talent, where there were three talent categories: carrying an egg through an obstacle course trying not to break it as if it were a baby (like a lot of high schools simulate with a bag of flour), a game using U.S. customary measurements (because we all get confused trying to do the conversions!), and an American Football trivia game (because all the fuss about the Super Bowl, and the group of us that stayed up to watch a game that started at 1:30am LT time, really puzzled the rest of LCC). The winners were crowned prom king and queen! And, maybe the best part, was the food! We made chili and corn bread to share and it was a delicious taste of home–and a little on the spicy side! IMG_3656

In planning tonight we realized that this is the flip side to being a traveler rather than a tourist. As important as it is for us to adopt the cultures we are now surrounded by and be invested in those, we should also be enthusiastic about sharing the American culture with the rest of LCC. Breaking cultural stereotypes is a two-way street, so while we are trying to get rid of the stereotypes we all have about Eastern Europe, we need to recognize that the Eastern European students are doing the same about their stereotypes about the States. Celebrating each other’s Independence Days is a fantastic way to do that, and we all had a blast being true Americans for a couple of hours! 🙂

“As someone who isn’t overly patriotic or proud of being an American, I was nervous about our Independence Day celebration. I always worry about how Eastern Europeans perceive me as an American. But being at LCC and attending other independence celebrations has taught me not only to be more open to other culture, but also to trust that people from other cultures are open to hearing about my life and my story, too. National identity is important, and that’s something we can share with each other. But I think sharing about our homes is only the beginning of something that’s more important–hospitality and community.” – Jessica, from Indiana Wesleyan University