Prepare to fall in love. Lithuania is unlike any European country you think you know about. Here are a few things that may be important to know before going (in no particular order):
- You do not need to know Lithuanian before you go. It would be helpful if you were fluent, but it’s not a huge loss if you aren’t. The school is taught entirely in English, so you’ll be fine there. I do, however, strongly advise learning either through the Intro to Lithuanian class or from friends. You will need it in town. Especially at the grocery store.
- I recommend Coffee King, Coffee Inn, Max Coffee, and Coffee Port (Try their chicken panini!) for doing homework and Donut Tree for buying donuts.
- Try every Lithuanian dish. Yes, many of them include potatoes and sour cream, but it’s amazing nonetheless. Also, kepta duona. Eat as much as you can of that and learn how to make it because you will crave it when you return home (if you don’t decide to move there permanently).
- Remember that the American cohort is not the only group of people you can talk to (The American study abroads have a bad reputation when it comes to this). It’s hard, but try to make friends with people outside of it. And try with your roommates, they’re usually great people.
- Do NOT jam pack your single 50lb. suitcase with clothes and shoes. You will need a lot of space on the way home for the clothes, shoes, and souvenirs you buy while abroad. Just think, you will be living in Lithuania for four-ish months and traveling to Estonia, Latvia, and Russia. And you have the time to go anywhere else you want. That’s a lot of souvenirs. I went to Spain, Ireland, and England on top of that and had to mail two boxes home…that was not fun for my wallet.
- If your friends/roommates invite you to go somewhere, just go. Forget sleep or homework (seriously). Studying abroad is just as much about experiencing new cultures and making friends as it is about studying.
- Take pictures, but don’t get too involved in it that you forget to experience what you’re trying to remember. And don’t worry so much about wifi so you can talk to people and scroll through social media. Enjoy a certain amount of disconnectedness. Everyone from home will understand. I do, however, want to say that wifi is important to keep in contact with your cohort and program leaders, so make sure you have everyone on Facebook so you can message them or call them if you need to. Safety first.
- Get a month-long bus pass. It’s super cheap and extremely handy because you WILL be using the bus almost every day. It’s how you get to any restaurant, coffee shop, or shopping center. (The grocery stores are in walking distance, so you won’t need a bus for that). Also, on the note of buses, pay attention to daily bus schedules.
- Taxis are pretty cheap, especially if you’re splitting them. But so is walking, which you can do to get back to campus if you’re in Old Town and the buses have stopped running. Don’t panic.
- Research local fairs and celebrations and GO!
I could talk about Lithuania for days, but I think I have covered some of the most important points. A semester in Lithuania is life-altering and perspective changing. You won’t regret going.
By Ember Hayden, LCC Alumna, Spring ‘16