Monday, February 28, 2011

Out of the Box - Jackie from Westmont

SPRING 2011
I've been sitting here thinking about boxes for the past few minutes. It's kind of a weird thing to think about, I know, but you should be used to this by now. 
I have this friend named Megann who is constantly trying to put me in boxes. You may be thinking that I just made a metaphorical statement...but I definitely didn't. Whenever she sees a slightly large box (which for some reason happens a lot at Westmont) she says "Jackie! See if you can fit in this box and then we will scare (fill in name of "unsuspecting" person here)." The craziest part is, it NEVER works. You can always tell when there is a person in a box...especially if there is a random person just chilling next to the box. Anyways, I now have this annoying problem where I naturally try to get into boxes. Thank you, Megann...
Just so you now that story had nothing to do with Lithuania...

Again thinking of boxes, I was thinking about God and how great he is this week (it's not that I don't normally think about how great he is, it just happened to really stick out to me this week). I once read Crazy Love by Francis Chan and in one of the chapters, well really throughout the whole book he talks about how great God is. He talked about how a lot of us live our lives not truly recognizing how great our God is. He used the metaphor that God is the ocean and a lot of us see him as the water that we have in a can that was scooped out of the Ocean. We have a certain view of God and we don't realize how much we need to expand it. God is not human. We can NEVER grasp all of him. I was talking to my friend Rachel this week over a break we had between classes. We were talking about how a lot of American Christians see God as a loving God, which he is, but at times we forget that he is to be feared. God is so amazing and huge and beyond our imaginations. That fact should pull us to the ground in humility and make us cover our faces in fear. It's almost selfish to see God as only loving. He deserves to be loved and feared in return. He is so powerful...it's blowing my mind. (I feel like my mind has been blown a lot since being here.) Don't put God in a box. Recognize his love AND his power. Recognize that he could have taken you out of existence a long time ago but he chose to keep you there...sitting right where you are...and not only that, he chooses to love you. How crazy is that? That's some crazy love. =)


Hanging out with friends. 
GOOD TIMES!



Now, something that has nothing to do with boxes!!
We are off to Russia in a week!!! YAY!! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is a "Presidents Day"? - Sean from APU

SPRING 2011
Obviously, this wouldn't be the first time I've rambled on about the international aspect of LCC, but honestly, it's so incredible. It is such a unique opportunity to celebrate the world by embracing and learning about the complexity of humanity and it's vast diversity of cultures, languages, and nations. And I love it. (No cheesiness intended.)

While most of you didn't have school last Monday, those at LCC did. I'm not bitter or anything.
But seriously, I'm really okay with that. Mostly because we had the chance to share with the rest of the university why that day and our country is special to each of us.

About twice a month, the Intercultural Team (made up of student leaders) put on an event celebrating a country represented at LCC, usually coinciding with the date of that country's independence. Students have the chance to represent their country through different mediums, answer questions others might have, and share some traditional foods.

The United States' "day of independence" celebration was scheduled this past Monday, which caused a bit of confusion for those who weren't American. Many students asked, "I thought July 4th was your Independence Day?" and typically followed up our reply with, "What's a Presidents Day? I don't get it." It was pretty entertaining to say the least. We may or may not have looked like fools trying to explain something that we weren't really familiar with ourselves.

Anyway, the event is usually held in the on-campus dorm (Neumann) during the evening, but held ours in the off-campus dorm (Karklu) for the sake of switching it up.
[Tangent: Sadly, it's Karklu's last semester as an LCC dorm because a brand new one will be built by next semester! I'm sure Jackie will write a post about that later. For those of you coming, get excited!]
Getting back on track, during this event a couple students from our cohort presented a brief history with the U.S. and shared some important facts about some recognizable landmarks within our gigantic nation. We then shared a few batches of the ever-delicious chocolate-chip cookie as well as some classic Coca-Cola, which I say pretty effectively represented the span of cultures within the U.S.

During the question-answer time, one question stood out amongst the handful that were asked: "What do you like most about your country?" We all had our personal convictions of patriotism, but I think we all agreed that the diversity—true, undeniable diversity—of the U.S. is something we all love. Though we have a lot of growing, educating, and understanding to go through to be a completely loving and accepting nation, I'd say the fact that we're on that journey is nothing short of incredible.

This was very much an enjoyable and perspective-widening moment, indeed. ...And to think we would've missed out on this opportunity if we didn't have school.

Until next time. Peace.

Caught by a Perfect Love-Jackie, Westmont

SPRING 2011


I feel like so much has happened this week! It is so hard to remember it all. One thing that I will never forget is that I got to see Potato again yesterday (I talked about him in an earlier post called "Potato Love")!


I was walking home in the afternoon, headphones on, music blasting, layered to hide myself from the cold, and simply ready to be back in my dorm. I had just crossed the street right by LCC and all of the sudden there was this child walking next to me. I thought to myself, "Who is this child?" not expecting it to be anybody I knew...I looked down to see the beautiful face of my little friend smiling at me. I almost lost it right there. I squealed like a child at Christmas and enthusiastically said, "HI! HOW ARE YOU??" (I still had my headphones on.) We hugged and he ran off to wherever he was going. Every few steps he turned around and smiled at me and I would wave to let him know that I was still excited to have him in my life. I watched him until he disappeared into a building (I'm glad there were no poles in the sidewalk...I would have died). It had been two weeks since I last saw him. I am so touched that he recognized me, even out of context. I literally want to take him home with me, but apparently you have to be married and 18 years older than the child you adopt...dang it. 


Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that God is in control when I see things like children who don’t have a family. I want to do so much to help them and I can. God created us to love, so that is what I try to do. I want to show Potato that he is loved; not just by me but by a beautiful creator that has the most perfect love for him. A love that is unconditional and holy. I hope that I can express this love to my dear new friend. And I hope that this love softens the pains of the world for him. God's love is strong. 


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stockholm, baby! - Sean from APU

SPRING 2011

Secret: Lithuania is pretty much in the middle of Europe.

With that being said, if you choose to participate in this ridiculously awesome program, traveling internationally is a must. Whether it's before, during, or after your stay, there are tons of incredible places to visit, especially if it will be your first time in Europe.

Last weekend, most of the study abroad cohort and one intern came with us to Stockholm, Sweden. After taking a few buses and an hour-long flight, we were greeted by the city's unique vibe. Stockholm, often reffered to as "The Capital of Scandinavia," is situated on 14 islands, whose Nordic history is traced to the 13th century. For the sake of time, I won't go into much detail about the city. All you need to know is that it is absolutely beautiful. The rich culture of the city is filled with style, fashion, and stunning modern and ancient art/architecture. It's basically like a giant IKEA (considering that IKEA is Swedish) for those of you obsessed with it as much as I am.

The funny thing is that I haven't really heard much about Stockholm back in the U.S., so all of us were completely blown away. Sort of like we discovered a secret or something.
The majority of us stayed, for the first time, in some of the cheaper hostels, which was a fantastic experience in itself. (Keep in mind, we prepared a lot beforehand, to make sure we were okay with whatever surprises hit us. Definitely necessary when you're on the other side of the world.) We explored throughout the city, took a million pictures, shopped around, went to a Sweden-Russia hockey game, and adventured on like most college students do! It was an incredible weekend that I'll always remember. Stay tuned for the next weekend destination... Not sure where yet, but it's looking like Brussels, Belgium!

[If you're into details, there are several low-priced airlines (which sometimes equates to low-quality) that fly out of Lithuania and Latvia, as well as a number of bus carriers. Since Lithuania is part of the EU (European Union), there aren't vary many barriers when traveling other EU countries because of the Schengen Area. I'm pretty sure you can Wiki it yourself if you're that interested.]

That's the update for now! Below is an extremely small preview of our weekend.
Anyway, for those coming in the Fall, GET STOKED! Peace.




Lithuania, Basketball and EuroBasket 2011

This fall Lithuania will host European Basketball Championship – EuroBasket 2011. This will be the 37th regional championship held by FIBA Europe. It is the second time Lithuania is hosting EuroBasket. The first time was in 1939, since for more than 50 years the country was occupied by the Soviet Union, EuroBasket 2011 is the first European Basketball Championship in Lithuania after the restoration of its independence in 1990.

Lithuania will be a multi-European country this fall: 24 teams will represent 24 countries such as Germany, Israel, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Russia and others.  

Important to notice that basketball is the most popular sport in Lithuania. More than 90% of the nation is interested in this sport as either a basketball player or a fan. Some even joke that basketball is the second religion of Lithuanians. There is more to say. Lithuania is historically one of the most prestigious and successful teams in international competition. Out of the five Olympic tournaments that Lithuania participated in, it won 3 bronze medals. Their most recent victory is the bronze medal in the 2010 FIBA World Championship.

The video shows the importance of basketball for Lithuanians and tells about their victory in 1992 right after gaining independence.

Maybe EuroBasket 2011 will head to another great victory in Lithuania’s basketball history.   

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

LCC [International] University - Sean from APU

SPRING 2011
For the millions of readers out there, I apologize for not blogging more consistently! I (kinda) promise to be more reliable amidst the blissful chaos that is a study abroad's life.

Anyway, I don't know if you've noticed "international" in the university's title. Yeah, it's a pretty big part of this entire experience. In preparing myself for living in Eastern Europe in the months leading up to my departure, I didn't really process what it would be like to basically be an international student myself or evaluate the substantial impact American culture had/has upon my life.
Being a student at an international university is a journey in itself. Out of my five classes, I am enrolled in Introduction to Theology, taught by a Polish professor (who graduated from an American seminary), and these first weeks have me incredibly excited to analyze and evaluate my faith and its stance in comparison to the world. Lithuania, and the rest of Eastern Europe, have been heavily influenced by the Christian branches of Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism. Big stuff. Seriously.
Classes are more of an international, intercultural, intereverything forum than a traditional lecture-based class. While much the class appears as if they all come from the same place and are part of the same ethnicity, two could be Belarusian, one could be Ukrainian, and the other Moldovan. As you can see, I have so much to learn not just from the teachers, but the students as well. In these coming months, I am anticipating to see how much influence my American-ness has upon my life, in every regard. Stoked.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adventures in Lithuania- Jackie from Westmont

SPRING 2011


It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The sun is shining. The wind is minimal. The Lithuanians are happy. I am currently licking every last piece of peanut butter off of the spoon in my hand (I couldn't help it any longer, I gave in and bought peanut butter despite the high price and super salty flavor). My weekend consisted of relaxation and reflection (with a bit of adventure thrown into the mix). Friday night promised laziness and the best cake that we have made since coming to Lithuania (and we've made a lot of cakes). We (Tyler and I) made a banana chocolate chunk cake. Perfection. There is no other way to describe this cake.

Saturday brought lots of adventure. We took a group of about 15 kids from the orphanage to Palanga (a small town on the beach). There was a Smelt (fish) Festival happening there. I made a new friend, sadly Ernestas (Potato) did not come to Palanga with us. This new friend only liked me cause I let him play the games on my ipod, but that's okay i guess. The day started out with some sun but a blizzard quickly decided to squash that beauty. We found a place to sit inside and drink tea (what else would we drink? We're in Lithuania) and wait out the cold weather. We hopped on a minibus back home and that was the end of the day. I would honestly like to go back sometime in the spring and enjoy the town a little bit more. Between the weather and trying to keep an eye or two on the rambunctious children that we were responsible for I didn't get to enjoy the trip as much as I would have liked to. But as always, I immensely enjoyed a day with the children from the orphanage.

Sunday has been full of entertaining Vaida (my friend Rachel's roommate). I think that she is missing Rachel a bunch since she went to Stockholm this weekend. I have enjoyed the time I get to spend with her. She made me breakfast, we had a dance party in the street, and ate cookies with peanut butter while drinking tea (of course). It has been a good day.

Being in Lithuania, at LCC, with Eastern Europeans, continues to help me grow, experience, and learn. There is always something new to be a part of, always something to learn. I love it. I love it. I love it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Coming back - Mike from Taylor

FALL 2010
 "I've Wanted to Experience Other Cultures, and LCC Offered Exactly That" 
Mike Henry
A semester in a university far away from one’s home can change life quite dramatically. Mike Henry, a student majoring in Media Communications and Computer Systems at Taylor University in Indiana, knows that. After spending four months at LCC International University as a part of the Study Abroad program, Mike became so excited about the place that he decided to return to Klaipėda to live and work here. Before he settles in Lithuania for a longer period of time, Mike went back to the USA to resume his studies at Taylor University. Before he went home, Mike told his story to the readers of the Transformations newsletter. “I tried my best to arrive without setting expectations, as I wanted to enjoy whatever I found in Lithuania, regardless of if it fit my premature expectations. And I enjoyed every day of it. My experience at LCC enriched me in so many ways, both in academics and outside of academics”, Mike reflected.

How did you learn about the Study Abroad opportunity at LCC? What attracted you to this whole idea of Studying Abroad in Europe?

Allison Davis, an LCC Study Abroad recruiter, visited my school in the USA. I also knew several Taylor University students who spent a semester at LCC and enjoyed it, and they encouraged me to apply. Studying at LCC was very attractive because of the immersion in Lithuanian culture and the ability to travel.

Was it a hard decision to make? What was the biggest doubt of yours?

Honestly, it wasn't. I’ve wanted to travel and experience other cultures, and the semester at LCC offered exactly that. I wasn't sure how living with 3 Eastern European roommates would be, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the semester.

As an American student, what did you know about Lithuania before coming here? What were your expectations?

Having talked with students who had already spent a semester at LCC, I knew quite a bit actually. If I hadn't talked with them ahead of time however, I wouldn't have known much. I tried my best to arrive without setting expectations, as I wanted to enjoy whatever I found in Lithuania, regardless of if it fit my premature expectations.

You come from the northern state of Pennsylvania yourself, so colder fall and winter was not a big problem for you. Can you remember anything that was a problem for you while being in Lithuania, something that bothered you?

I grew up in Pennsylvania, and Taylor University is in Indiana, so I was used to the cold. While I was going through culture shock, light switches bothered me. In Lithuania they are on the outside of bathrooms, in the US they put them on the inside. That took some adjusting, but wasn't really a big deal.

Is LCC very different from the university you come from back in the USA? Was it easy to get used to LCC? Did you feel at home here?

LCC has a lot of similarities to Taylor University. The classes are very similar, the students are more diverse, but are still college students. For me, it was fairly easy to get used to LCC. I really do feel at home at LCC, and the community at LCC really supported me. I loved living with European roommates.

What is your major back in the USA? How relevant was it for you to study at LCC?

I am a Media Communication and Computer Systems major at Taylor University. Many of the classes I took at LCC were general education credits - classes that every student needs to take to graduate. Additionally, I greatly enjoyed the Film and Literature course at LCC, and it counted towards my major. My experience at LCC enriched me in so many ways, both in academics and outside of academics. As a part of LCC’s Study Abroad program, students are introduced to other Baltic states as well as the Russian Federation. Did you enjoy those trips? The trips were great! I loved the time I spent traveling through Latvia, Estonia, and Russia.

Now, after the semester is over, what are your impressions of LCC, the Study Abroad program, and Lithuania? Would you recommend the experience to your peers back in the USA?

I would completely recommend the Study Abroad program to those in the USA. It gave me the opportunity to spend four months in the Lithuanian culture and travel around Eastern Europe. Studying Abroad is an experience I'll never forget and can't wait to do again.

This is not the last time you visit Lithuania – you might be back quite soon and for a longer period of time than just one semester. Can you unveil the mystery?

I've just accepted a job with a company in the US who is willing to let me work in Lithuania. I'll be training with them and then returning to Klaipėda in August or September to live and work. I'm very excited to be returning!

Taken from LCC International University's newspaper Transformations

Monday, February 7, 2011

Potato Love - Jackie from Westmont

SPRING 2011
Today I fell in love. My day started out just like any other day, except the sun was shining and it wasn't freezing cold outside! For the first time since I've been here I wore my converse without my leg warmers. It was beautiful. I debated all morning whether or not I wanted to go to the orphanage again this week. I ended up going. Best choice ever! We took the children that wanted to go to the beach (about 5 in all) and just spent the afternoon walking on the sand next to the live and vibrant waves of the Baltic Sea (this fact blew my mind). At first the children were a little timid. There were four study abroad students and one Russian student that made the trip to the orphanage along with Steve (the professor at LCC that runs the program). By the middle of the walk they were trying to push us into the sea and stealing any of the shells that we found. But there was one boy who simply refused to open up to anyone. Ernestas. On the walk home I chased him down and we bonded over the fact that we both enjoyed making weird noises. We spent at least twenty minutes copying the noises the other one was making. As we got closer to the orphanage he began to try to speak to me in his broken English and I was overjoyed! We talked about potatoes. He dragged me up the four flights of stairs to the level that he lived on as we called each other potato and made even more silly noises (I think we were both mesmerized by how cool they sounded in the stairwell). It was time for us to leave and as I began to walk towards the door he stood in my path and would not let me pass through the door that led to the stairs we had just enjoyed walking up. I gently told him that I would return next week. Then said "Give me a hug, Potato." He hugged me for what seemed like ten minutes and then as I was walking away we made noises back and forth. Needless to say, I will not debate whether or not I want to go to the orphanage again. A little boy name Ernestas, A.K.A. Potato, stole my heart.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Consider the paradigm shifted - Sean from APU

SPRING 2011

Wait. For the next three months, this is a beach?

In being from Hawaii/LA, I can confidently say that I am in an environment that is uncomfortable. That may sound horrible, but in actuality, it's fantastic.

I'm on an adventure on the other side of the world. Exactly what I signed up for.

I'm used to seeing the sun on a daily basis, driving everywhere (even if it's for less than a mile), and actually swimming at the beach. The things that I know, the things that make my life comfortable are beginning to be substituted in my life in Lithuania. The whole process of actually living abroad, as opposed to being on vacation, is really happening. And I like it.

My on-the-go snacks have turned into sit-down home-cooked dinners, my crammed readings have turned into extended library sessions (for the most part), and my random iPhone time-fillers have turned into a cup of Earl Grey, a comfy couch, a window overlooking the frozen pond, and stillness. As much as I love my life back home, the new is something I am so grateful for.

But unfortunately, my fellow LA-ers, your spontaneous desires for Disneyland will never be substituted.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Language - Ella from Wheaton

SPRING 2011
Language is a large part of my daily life here - and not just Lithuanian. The students at LCC come from many countries including, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Albania, Lithuania, and more. All these languages resound throughout the halls as friends of the same country speak to one another in them. It's incredible how these people can go to school in their 2nd or 3rd or 4th language (English). What's not so awesome is that nobody even speaks the only other language I'm competent in! Ancient Greeks, it turns out, don't enroll at LCC.