Monday, January 28, 2013

Why Lithuania? - Samantha from Eastern

I’ve heard that question so many times since I’ve applied and been accepted to the program. I mean, I guess it is a good question but the way people ask sort of annoys me. It usually sounds less like they are interested in the country/program and more like they are asking, “Why are you going so far away from home to a land of cold and ice and depression? You don’t speak Lithuanian. You have no family ties to the country. I’m not really asking you ‘Why Lithuania?’ but actually ‘Are you insanely crazy?’” 

And so my response is as follows:


When I got to college, I knew I wanted to study abroad. I pictured Italy or Oxford or maybe even
somewhere warm, like Costa Rica. I’ve been to Nicaragua a few times and I loved it there and the Costa Rica program my school offers actually takes you there, too. I heard a lot- and I mean A LOT- of people talking about the program in Lithuania. Freshman year, I pretty much put my foot down and said I’d never find myself going there.

Then during Sophomore year, I heard more people talking about it and a girl I know actually left our home university to be a full time student at the school I’ll be at in Lithuania. I decided to actually take a look at the program. I was pretty shocked. The tuition for the semester, including plane tickets, was cheaper than a semester at my home university. A week is spent in Russia between Moscow and St. Petersburg and then there is a long weekend spent between Latvia and Estonia. Everyone I talked to said that they traveled a lot on the weekends and many of them stayed after the program ended to travel. One of my friends was able to visit and see 16 countries when she did the program because weekend trips are encouraged; the program is designed so that students can learn the culture of Europe and see a part of the world that they may never have the time to explore once they are out of school. The classes are taught in English, the professors like to personally get to know students and there are a lot of things to do in and around the Old City. Also, the program factors in a stipend for each study-abroad student per month that is included in the tuition. It’s to be used for food/entertainment.

There’s also many ways to get involved at the school. I will be applying to the Fellowship program and will be given the option of working in many different environments with people in the area. I’ve narrowed down where I’d like to work to: working at the orphanage (they have two, one for babies-10 or 11 and then another for kids 11-18), working to raise awareness about human trafficking (and working with people who have been involved in it) or helping with the local radio station.
This all sounded amazing to me. I’m an anthropology major and the chance to see that much of the world excited me so much.

So, that’s why I choose to go to Lithuania! :)

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