KTU student from Lebanon: “The way Lithuanians Dress and Live is Similar to Lebanese”
“I found best friends in Lithuania – they are helpful and kind. It is always fascinating to see that people enjoy showing the foreigners new places and seeing our reaction“, says Malak Bakkour from Danniyeh in Lebanon, who has just graduated from Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) MSc Mechatronics. At the moment, the young professional is looking for a job in Lithuania and waiting for her internship in the UK.
Even though Malak misses her family, friends and the traditional Lebanese food – especially grape leaves stuffed with rice – she is happy about the time spent in Lithuania.
“Apparently, Lebanese food is sour. I did not notice that until my Lithuanian friend tried some of our traditional food and told me it is too sour for him. I tried little from the Lithuanian traditional food when I first arrived at Kaunas, and the spiky cake caught my attention. I loved it”, says a young mechanical engineer with a smile.
According to Malak, compared to Lebanon, Lithuania is not an expensive country to live in, while also cheap for tourists. Since the economic crisis in Lebanon, the rate of the Lebanese pound decreased, and it is now cheap for tourists coming with foreign currency, but expensive for its citizens.
“Living in Kaunas is really nice. I especially love the nature here – it is very calming. Also, it was easy to adapt while also not expensive. I am also surprised that most people my age speak English, so it was easy to communicate. That made my experience living here really smooth”, says Malak.
How did you choose your major of studies?
Back in Lebanon, to decide what to choose for my bachelor’s I had consultations at the university. I have always loved physics and robotics, so I studied mechanical engineering to find out more about machinery.
Why did you choose Kaunas University of Technology for master studies?
A friend of mine recommended KTU, and then I did my research about the university. Since it is one of the most important universities in the technological majors in the region, and not expensive, it was an excellent choice to apply. The KTU system is simple, and it was easy to apply – it does not take too much time. Also, knowing that the university dormitories are available and close to the faculty was a motivator.
What did you like the most about studying at KTU?
I liked the practice part the most, to have the opportunity to apply the knowledge obtained in the theory classes. Also, I liked that there were seminars lead by professors from companies or different countries.
The advanced technology that’s available in the university amazed me. It is also great for us, as the students have access to this tech through our subjects and thesis projects. You get hands-on experience with the equipment and are guided on how to use it. KTU is great for people interested in technology majors; the professors are helpful and with their guidance students can easily improve.
How did you adapt during the global pandemic?
I started the first semester on campus. During the second semester, the pandemic occurred, and I was surprised how the KTU Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Design (MIDF) adapted to the situation and taught us all that we were supposed to have learned. So, I had the chance to have both online and in campus studies. We first thought it is nice to study remotely from home, but after a while, we all agreed that being in class is more beneficial.
The communication with most of the professors was easy; they replied directly to our e-mails, and we had consultations via the Zoom platform. I was communicating with my classmates that I had already met in the classes or on campus. However, no new friendships were made during the online-studying time.
What about other aspects of university life?
I joined a few events like the International Dinner and Lithuanian Night. It is interesting how students from different backgrounds are mingling and experiencing different cultures – from food to dancing.
What similarities and differences do you notice between Lithuania and your country? How are the people similar or different?
Even though the nature in the countries is quite different – in Lebanon we have mountains and are close to the Mediterranean Sea – but the people, how they live and the way they dress is similar. There are so many differences between my home country and Lithuania, but the main is the food.
Apparently, Lebanese food is sour. I did not notice that until my Lithuanian friend tried some of our traditional food and told me it is too sour for him. I tried little from the Lithuanian traditional food when I first arrived at Kaunas, and the spiky cake caught my attention. I loved it
Once I have visited a village in Lithuania called Žagarė, and it reminded me of my hometown Danniyeh in Lebanon – the nature, the houses, and how people dress. It felt cosy and warm.
What are your plans?
Now I am trying to find a job in Lithuania. Also, in November, I have My Erasmus+ recent graduate internship in the United Kingdom.
In the future, I will visit Lithuania now and then for sure. I would love to bring my family to see the country that was my home for two years. It is an affordable EU country for tourism.