LFC Contest / #1 VMU / International Alumni Thoughts about VMU and Lithuania23/08/2013 18:36:08
This summer VMU saw off quite a few new graduates who had come to pursue a degree in Lithuania from different corners of the world. Three VMU alumni from Azerbaijan, Italy and the USA spoke to us about their choices and shared their experiences and opinions about studying far away from their homeland.
The three interviewees this time were Master in Journalism and Media Analysis Alessandro Poroli (Italy) and MA graduates of Social Work Aysel Sultan (Azerbaijan) and Gabrielle Kempton (USA).
What made you decide to choose Lithuania as your study destination and come to Vytautas Magnus University?
To be honest, when the admission to Lithuanian universities was announced, I did not know much about university rankings. The most important aspect for me was the study subject itself. I chose Social Work and, automatically with it, VMU.
My decision to pursue a master degree abroad took shape as early as June 2010, when with great sadness I embarked from the small airport of Tartu (Estonia) and returned to Italy after nine months of Erasmus. That day I already knew that for me it would not be the last time in the Baltic countries. In the following months, the wonderful Erasmus experience and the desire to complete a study programme in English made me choose to leave my native country once again.
In 2009, I visited Klaipėda and Palanga and I was fascinated by Lithuania, its breathtaking landscapes characterized by a beautiful and unspoilt nature, and its smiling and hospitable citizens. I also visited Kaunas and was very impressed by its student atmosphere and its university buildings. The hospitality and kindness of VMU staff, the educational potential of the studies of journalism and communication, and the valuable advice from several local friends played a key role in giving me the conviction that allowed me to defeat my fears and choose VMU for my master degree education. Today, after two years, I can say – that was the best choice I could make.
I decided to come to Vytautas Magnus University because I had studied in Klaipėda for a semester and fell in love with Lithuanian culture. I wanted to come back and experience Lithuania in a new way, and that was what attracted me to VMU. I was interested in attending a graduate school programme in English in Lithuania and this university offered that. The programmes seemed exciting, and provided an avenue for me to return to Lithuania.
Tell us more about your study programme at Vytautas Magnus University.
The Faculty of Social Sciences is delightful: helpful staff, creative lecturers, outstanding range of books at the libraries. I must admit that Social Work is probably one of the best fields to study at VMU. If you are willing to choose this programme, take my word for it – you will never regret it! The Faculty of Social Sciences provides students with all the necessary possibilities and conditions necessary in order to become great specialists.
I studied Journalism and Media Analysis at VMU for two years. This programme is very well structured and properly combines theoretical and practical courses. All the classes were very interesting and engaging. But undoubtedly what surprised and impressed me the most was the familial atmosphere that could be felt day after day at the Department of Public Communication. Teachers were always willing to help with suggestions and meet the needs of the students. Here I really felt like home: friendly academic staff was always ready to listen to my problems and understand my difficulties. At VMU I found the ideal environment for dealing with the necessary serenity, the joys and the challenges of my master studies.
I studied Social Work at VMU, and the programme was amazing. I have nothing but good things to say about my experiences with the faculty. The professors were exceptionally friendly and seemed to genuinely care for their students. The content of the courses covered a wide range of relevant topics in the field of social work today, both in Lithuania and globally.
What were the biggest challenge and the best experience at Vytautas Magnus University for you?
The biggest challenge was, without a doubt, the master thesis. On the other hand, the best experience was everything related to the master thesis as well! But I also cannot deny the fact that VMU gave me a chance to experience one year in Germany as an Erasmus student, and acquiring knowledge in that country was probably one of the most significant trials of my life.
Talking about the experience of studying abroad is always extremely complicated. First of all, it is a difficult if not an impossible task to put into words the feelings and emotions of such an experience. Also, one blank page is probably not enough to share all those memorable events that often mark the life of an international student.
Looking back at the past two years I have so many colourful memories that I will bring forever in my heart. However, I can admit that I felt the strongest emotions during the graduation ceremony. Receiving my diploma directly from the hands of the Rector was a great joy that I will never forget.
Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge was writing my master thesis. To be honest, it was a significant obstacle, but it also allowed me to grow as a person and for this reason I want to thank everyone who supported me, especially my supervisor Prof. Kristina Juraitė for her precious suggestions and, above all, for being able to “bear” my views and stubborn ideas during the recent months.
My best experiences at VMU were related to the people I had the pleasure of meeting. I made many good friends here, both Lithuanian and international. I was able to experience many different cultures, especially through university sponsored events. The Lithuanian language provided the biggest challenge for me. Learning it did not come easy to me, but the university provided language classes which helped me do that. Also there were many people who were more than happy to help me navigate the city if there was something I needed to do that required a better grasp on the Lithuanian language than I had.
What would you like to wish to future international students and VMU?
If you are thinking about acquiring your degree at Vytautas Magnus University – go for it! You will get much more than just an education. Friendly atmosphere, liberal education system and international aura of Kaunas will fascinate you.
I would recommend Journalism and Media Analysis to all university students who wish to gain a qualification in journalism, media analysis and communication strategies. The idea of studying in English can be a bit frightening at first, but completing a study programme in a foreign language can open new horizons which may be important in your life. I hope that my experience helps those who have to decide on their studies.
I would like to conclude with a few words for a rapidly expanding university which has given me two wonderful years. Labai ačiū (“thank you very much” in Lithuanian, – Ed.) Vytautas Magnus University, you will always have a special place in my heart and I am sure that in the future our paths will cross again.
My biggest wish to all future international students is that they take a chance and come live in Kaunas! Experience the city, make new friends and enjoy all things Kaunas has to offer.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I am happy to be a graduate of Vytautas Magnus University! Huge thanks to everyone at the faculty, International Office, to colleagues and friends. They all made my education experience and life in Lithuania unforgettable.
I would like to address a final thought to the International Office and the staff who was always ready to support and help me with the most intricate issues. A warm thanks also goes to the personnel of the Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy, who accompanied me during these two years of studies in Lithuania.
Thanks a lot for the interview and best of luck to you in the future!