KTU student from Ecuador: There is Always Something to Learn
“I clearly remember the day I arrived here – I was so excited about all the experiences I was about to have, that I remember going out in the freezing cold wearing just a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a casual jacket,” says Martin Xavier Gomez Salazar from Ecuador. A third-year KTU Intelligent Robotics Systems student says that he has learned to love Lithuania “to its fullest”.
Martin Gomez admits that he has dreamed about studying abroad since a young age, aiming to get the best education, which would focus on the latest information and cutting-edge technology. He researched different universities in Europe, and, in the end, Kaunas University of Technology proved to be the best option.
“Since I was 14, I knew that I wanted to study mechatronics, preferably in English, and there were not many study programmes offering that. Finally, during my admission process at KTU, I was offered a scholarship and that closed a deal for me,” says Martin.
He remembers hearing about KTU from his high-school friend, who was very excited about Lithuania being small, clean, and very affordable to live in.
“We found out that it had cutting-edge technologies, and that it was the country with the fastest internet in the world,” says Martin, talking about his first impressions of Lithuania from far away.
Coming to Lithuania? Prepare for the weather.
How did he feel after arriving here? Was everything as planned? Well, not exactly. Martin remembers freezing out the first day when he went sightseeing while being too lightly dressed. You see, in Lithuania, jeans, a T-shirt and a light jacket are not a proper dress code for the beginning of December.
“I will not say that it was wonderful at the beginning, especially for me, coming from a very warm country where we have only two seasons: the rainy season with temperatures that range between 25°C to 26°C, and summer also known as the dry season with temperatures between 21°C to 22°C,” says KTU student, admitting that in addition to the climate, the very beginning was not easy because of the pandemic restrictions.
Luckily, everything got better once spring arrived: “Months went by, COVID-19 restrictions ceased, and everything was lovely. Lithuania is full of forests and nature and there are a lot of activities for each season. Overall, with the people, I met, and the experiences I have had, I’ve learned to love Lithuania to its fullest.”
Martin even came around to enjoy the advantages of living in North Europe.
In summer, in Lithuania, we have about 18 hours of sunlight. (Of course, this means only seven hours of daylight in winter, which one must get used to.)
Teachers are ready to help
When he first came to KTU, Gomez was studying Mechatronics, as this was his childhood dream: “Ever since I was old enough to use tools, I was trying to fix my broken things. At some point, I started getting a very good understanding of how mechanisms and electronics work. However, then I realized that I didn’t have enough knowledge to solve some specific challenges while creating my projects.”
That is when Martin discovered that mechatronics – a discipline which covers computers, control, mechanical and electronic systems – offers the knowledge he needed to be able to create optimal solutions to the specific problems he faced.
However, two years into his degree, Gomez understood that the study programme is too focused on mechanical engineering for his liking.
He asked to be transferred to the BSc Intelligent Robotics Systems. With the help of teachers and staff, Martin is now in studies that he fully enjoys.
“Besides my studies, at the moment, I am also working on some personal projects, such as programming 3D printers, making and controlling robotic arms, and creating algorithms to automate the manipulation of small toys,” says the student of robotics.
At KTU, he enjoys the open-mindedness of the teachers – they are always ready to answer the students’ questions and provide advice. However, the language barrier is something that, according to Martin, causes the majority of challenges.
“There is always a place for misunderstandings between professors and students as their English proficiency level varies. Sometimes, this may lead to an exclusion of international students from the activities of locals,” says Gomez.
Plays music and paints in his free time
According to the KTU student, the University’s international community is very supportive – everyone understands what it takes to study abroad. Although he is mainly communicating with international students, Martin has close friends among the locals, too.
“Back home, I was used to being around very talkative people, therefore, Lithuanians seemed rather cold and reserved. Of course, it’s not fair to generalize, as I have met people here who talk a lot, however, the majority are quiet,” says Martin, admitting disposition is the greatest cultural difference between our two nations.
Luckily, the Ecuadorian does not lack initiative himself. Two summers ago, aiming to realize his passion for music, he contacted the Ravinai family who were donating their piano to “a lovely person who likes music”.
“It was an emotional donation for them, as the piano belonged to their son, who has been living in the UK for over 20 years. During that summer, I played the piano a lot. Currently, as I moved out of the university dorms, the piano stands at the KTU Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Design. After giving it proper maintenance, I gifted it to the faculty,” says Gomez.
By the way, his creative expression is not limited to music – in his free time, Martin learns how to draw and paint, loves visiting museums and travelling, and much more.
“Some years ago, I bought a semi-professional drone that I have been using to make some videos and take pictures around Lithuania. Lately, I have spent my time 3D printing and learning to program microcontrollers, and, in my free time, I have been creating cool projects with these technologies,” says the curious student.
Travelling for studies – always a good idea
Gomez never regretted travelling abroad to study, even if that meant living far away from home:
“My biggest fear was not succeeding here, or not finding my way. I think that making the effort to come here already gave me the motivation to give it my best shot. During my time, I have failed several times, but failing has only provided me with the opportunity to try new things.”
Since his arrival in Lithuania, he did not have a chance to go back home. However, last year, Martin’s family had a reunion in the United States – after two long years. Food is something that he misses most, as Lithuania cannot compare with the variety of products available in Ecuador.
In the future, Martin sees himself studying more – firstly, pursuing a master’s degree in computer science or control systems. Eventually, he would like to start his own business, create products, and get a PhD.
“As humans, we are here to learn. During the time that I have been studying, I realized that there is always space for improvement, there is always something else to discover,” says Martin Gomez, a KTU student from Ecuador.
Inspired by Martin’s story? Willing to live in a safe and friendly European country? Choose studies that shape you, at KTU. Apply by the end of June.