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.

Making Klaipeda Your HOME

When I first arrived in here in Klaipeda I felt very uncomfortable. I was in a strange place away from home and in a different culture with a different language. As you can imagine I felt pretty scared, and this place didn’t feel like a home to me yet, just a place I was staying in for the next 4 months.

I came to realize though that the mindset I was currently in, was not the way I should go about the next few months so I started to change my mindset by deciding that Klaipeda was going to become my temporary home. I started by getting to know the area and getting out into Old Town and figure things out. I spent a whole day walking around by myself, through Old Town, just exploring and looking around, going down different streets and into different shops. I wrote down places that I thought looked good and that I wanted to try and started to make a bucket list of things to do and see.

The next step was actually doing those things. I started going out more, either by myself or with my friends and doing whatever I could. I went to tons of different coffee shops and tried their drinks and their food and did homework there. I tried different bakeries and different restaurants and tried things there. Eventually I found some of my favorite spots around Old Town and it began to be a comfortable place for me and actually start o feel like home. I learned different phrases in Lithuanian so I could order simple things or say things like hi, thank you and please.

Going out to explore and learning some of the language really helped me feel more at home here. Even coming back from Russia, I was so happy to be back in Klaipeda, I was so happy to be back in a place that I was familiar with and that I even understood the language more.

If you want to feel more at home here in Klaipeda, even if its just temporary, get out there and explore, go to restaurants, go to coffee shops, go to the festivals and events they have in town and in no time you’ll feel right at home here.

~Lauren

Roberts Wesleyan

Five Things to See in Vilnius…

… before orientation or during a weekend trip! Vilnius is the largest city in Lithuania and the national capital, but we only stayed two days during orientation. During that time, we saw some incredible things, but having stayed there for a week, there is much more to see and do. More than can be managed in two days. Now, I cannot say that every orientation schedule is the same, but if you’re planning ahead, we went to the Museum of Genocide Victims (also known as the KGB Museum), Trakai, Palanga, and Nida during orientation. Going back to the museum is highly recommended to absorb the history and information that they have compiled inside. It’s sobering, but a deeply enriching experience to understand the history of Lithuania.

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The Best Parts about December in Klaipeda

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“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
― Edith Sitwell

As Christmas approaches, there are some things I’m starting to miss about home like fireplaces with homemade cookies and my grandma’s laughter on an early Christmas morning. Its an almost conflicting feeling because I don’t want my time here in Lithuania to end too – there are so many things I’m going to miss so if possible, could I trade my final exams in for last minute coffee dates with friends and another walk to the Baltic Sea? 🙏🙏🙏

Its December 15th today and I don’t know where the beginning of the month went but here are some of the things I’ll remember the most about winter in Klaipeda 💖
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The first snowfall of the season ❄️

There’s something about the first snowfall of winter that gets to me each time – waking up in the morning and looking out the window and seeing nothing but white against a blue sky, coated rooftops, and the faded footprints of wild animals left behind in the snow.

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 The Christmas decorations in Klaipeda’s old town 🎄

In the first weekend of December, Klaipeda set up a gigantic christmas tree (or as some of us call it, the “fish tree”) in the middle of town along with little concession stands selling fresh apple juice and iced gingerbread cookies. At night, old town comes to life with its christmas lights and decorations – golden ornament shaped bushes flickering along with the city lights.

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The Real Reason to Travel – A Reflection by Landon

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Hi guys! There’s only two weeks left before the end of the semester and our return to the States Loudly Crying Face We are trying to get our last coffee dates in amidst the busyness of exams prep and final papers.

This post will feature an end of the semester reflection by one of our Fall ’17 study abroad students, Landon Hacker. Read the full post on his blog Landon’s Travels!

I have traveled quite a lot this semester so far. I am actually leaving again tonight to go to Oslo, Norway. The original purpose to all my travels was to see as much of the world as I can with this unique opportunity. The real question is why did I want to do this? Was it to just simply say I’ve been to all these cool places? Or was it to grow personally or spiritually in some way?

I believe that I wanted to grow personally from the extra travels I have been able to embark on. However, this desire quickly morphed into a vain attempt to simply say I’ve done things and been places. This is no good. There is no point to this endeavor. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes these fleeting desires are simply a chasing of the wind. I have realized that despite my travels thus far, I am still not satisfied. I am not happy where I am, I always want more.

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Photo by Landon

1 John 2:16 says ” For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- comes not from the Father but from the world”. The pride of life is something that I think I am guilty of. It is simply having pride for things you have or have done. Whether it be Rome, Norway, or Russia, taking pride in these travels simply for the fact that I have been to these places is not a gift from God. It is something that will drive me further from him. This kind of pride is meaningless.

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Artsy Journey into Vilnius

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Literatų Street

Whether its the charming basement art studio you’ll find by the train tracks serving homemade ginger kombucha or the hidden blue street decorated in art paying homage  to historical writers and poets, you will be bound to stumble across something extraordinary in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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Window shopping in August

A lot of students in our study abroad group have gotten the chance to take weekend trips to cities such as Oslo, London, Prague, and Rome. But there was something about Vilnius that drew me back for a second trip. Especially if your short on money and time, Vilnius makes for the perfect weekend trip from our university in Klaipeda. Its a four to five hour journey by bus and with your ISIC card, you can receive student discounts for transportation.

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Thanksgiving Away From Home

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Fall ’17 Study Abroad Family 

Happy Thanksgiving weekend friends! 🦃🎉🦃🎉🦃

Even though we are over 5,000 miles away from home, we’ve still found a way to celebrate in Lithuania with homemade dishes – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, spiced apple cider, deviled eggs, mac & cheese and many warm desserts.

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Standing in line for food 😋

After long weekends of away traveling, and an endless stream of exams and papers, I think Thanksgiving Dinner is what a lot of us needed.

The food disappeared fast … what can we say though – we’re great cooks 😎✌️

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Klaipeda Coffee Shop Guidebook

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One of things I am most thankful for as a student at LCC University is that we are surrounded by an abundance of coffeeshops in downtown Klaipeda. Even after three months here, I still haven’t visited them all 😂Here are our study abroad cohort’s favorite coffee shops….

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1) Coffee King

Address: H. Manto g. 13, Klaipėda 91246

Pros: Unique variety of themed coffees and teas including Marilyn Monroe and Bob Marley tea.

Cons: Because of Coffee King’s smaller size, it can get easily crowded during the weekday afternoons and prime homework time.

Recommended Drink: Elvis Presley Tea

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Aš Kalbu Lietuviškai – A Reflection by Katie

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Photo by Katie Wells

Hi guys! Its unbelievable how fast the semester moves… tomorrow morning, we’ll be on a train bound to Moscow, Russia but we’ll keep you updated on our many adventures through Instagram!

This post will feature a halfway point reflection by one of our Fall ’17 study abroad students, Katie Wells. Read the full post on her blog Kate In Klaipeda!

As everyone should know, I’m a regular at probably three different coffee shops. They all know I’m American now and so interactions go one of two ways. The first is I walk in and greet the barista, “Laba diena!”

“Oh hey! Welcome back!”

“No, gosh dang it, I’m practicing Lithuanian.” And then they laugh and ask me how classes are going.

The second goes more like this: “Laba diena, prašom maža latė” I order, feeling pleased, until the barista asks me a follow up question and I stare blankly. I reluctantly huff out a “kalbateangliškai?” and the barista smiles pleasantly and asks “for here or take away?”

“Oh, for here.”

“Okay, that’s čia in Lithuanian.” Bless your precious souls. Whenever a Lithuanian is eager to help me fill in the blanks, I always get excited

For another interaction, we started ordering in Lithuanian and the worker just cut us off completely and asked us to speak English.

Probably the funniest interaction (at least to me) was trying to order pizza for ten people and I started listing the order and the worker just smiled at my attempt at ordering in Lithuanian when she could clearly hear my accent when I said “pepperoni” and “Hawaiian”. Nevertheless, she let me do my entire order in Lithuanian and only corrected me once because of a grammatical error.

Despite some of the challenges, I’ve embraced every moment to speak Lithuanian. We did presentations in Lithuanian class on our families and I enjoyed each small sentence that was successfully constructed. I then went to the mall by myself a week or so ago and managed to do an entire transaction, even after I miscounted my change and she had to ask me for ten more cents. Even at LCC, I try to find a Lithuanian and talk about my day (although I still don’t know past or future tense and I end up asking how to translate something anyway).

In any case, I’m determined to learn as much Lithuanian as I can and get out into the world every day. Which is typically getting coffee, but it’s still good enough practice for now.

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Trying 10 random Sūrelis Bars in Lithuania!

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For me, one of the best parts about living in Lithuania is going to the grocery shop and coming back with an arm full of uniquely flavored sūrelis bars to try. I’ll admit its probably not the healthiest habit but after a stressful week filled with exams and paper deadlines, I’d say that you deserve to end the day with something sweet.

For those of you who don’t know what sūrelis bars are (first of all, you are missing out!!), they are a sweet snack made from curd cheese that taste almost like a cheesecake bar coated in a chocolate.
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At every local grocery store in Lithuania, there is an wide assortment of sūrelis bars flavors ranging from chocolate to poppy seed to jelly filled. After some intensive research and homework, five of us choose 10 random flavors to try out and here are our thoughts…

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