June 27, 2024

Fresh out of KTU: Ivan from Colombia moved halfway across the world to chase his dream

“It fascinates me how we, civil engineers, can transform seemingly impossible ideas of architects into reality,” says Ivan Ramirez Triana, a fresh-out-of-KTU graduate from Colombia. Being only 16, he travelled more than 10 thousand kilometres from Bogota to Kaunas to pursue studies at Kaunas University of Technology.

Today, Ivan is a proud young professional who holds a diploma from KTU and works as a junior civil engineer in a local company.

“It was a transformative journey, both academically and personally. The studies helped me to excel in my field of civil engineering, and on a personal level, living independently in Lithuania, and navigating daily life in a new language and environment has taught me life skills and strengthened my confidence,” says Ivan, a recent Bachelor of Civil Engineering.

Is exploring career opportunities internationally

He says that at the beginning, he was drawn to architecture, captivated by the creativity and design aspects of the field. However, gradually, he grew more interested in the scientific and technical aspects behind these designs.

“The blend of creativity and science in civil engineering is truly inspiring,” says a KTU graduate from Colombia.

Ivan is already using the knowledge and skills gained during his studies in practice, working as a junior structural engineer. He is happy to learn from his colleagues and supervisors and plans to gain more experience in the field before embarking on the next academic journey.

“I plan to pursue a master’s in civil engineering, and if life allows me to stay in Lithuania, I will choose KTU, given my positive experiences here. However, the direction of my studies –whether focusing on the structural aspects or the more technological elements – will be influenced by the experiences I gain in the workplace,” says the young professional.

Although he now works for a Lithuanian company, Ivan does not rule out relocating elsewhere:

“I am open to possibilities. I have opportunities in the USA and Lithuania, and I am also considering returning to Slovakia, where I had an exceptional internship experience and fell in love with the country.”

A pleasant surprise – a scholarship to cover tuition

How did a boy from Bogota end up thousands of kilometres away from home, in Kaunas? It was a bit of a surprise for Ivan too, he says. His journey started with a university fair in Bogota, where Ivan went with a classmate and his father.

“Little did I know that this decision would change my life,” says Ivan with a smile.

During the fair, his classmate’s father urged him to look into KTU’s programmes, as he was impressed by the university’s presentation.

“Until then, Lithuania wasn’t even on my radar,” admits Ivan. However, after checking out the KTU booth at the fair, he was impressed – both by the study programmes and opportunities offered, and by the people he met.

“I was particularly impressed by how welcoming and supportive the university staff was, making the idea of moving halfway across the world seem less daunting. After the event I called my mother and said that I already know what I’d be studying,” remembers Ivan.

Although he entered the university during the pandemic, which was stressful for everyone, Ivan remembers the university’s ability to cope with the challenges with awe: “The transition to online learning was very smooth; this not only improved accessibility but also significantly enhanced my learning experience.”

The best news waited for Ivan after his first semester at KTU – he was awarded the scholarship for excellent study results: “This unexpected recognition not only helped me financially but also motivated me to study harder. It became a personal goal to me to excel in the academic requirements.”

Prepared well for a civil engineering career

What was the biggest shock upon arrival? Climate and people, as in Lithuania both are somewhat cooler.

“The weather was notably colder, which was a new experience, but surprisingly, I enjoyed the change – the distinct seasons offered a different kind of beauty,” says Ivan, who has been living here for almost five years.

While Lithuanians are not as outwardly warm as Colombians, they are friendly and hospitable, once you get to know them: “I always felt welcomed and respected, making adapting and learning from them easier.”

On the other hand, Ivan does not spare praise for the University staff – from administration to teachers – who are always willing to go the extra mile to help students. Although the studies are well organised, with great integration of technologies, which make assignment submissions and other processes smoother, language accessibility to the international students could be improved, Ivan thinks.

“However, my overall experience at KTU has been very enriching. The supportive environment and the university’s commitment to innovation prepared me well for my future career as a civil engineer,” says a fresh-out-of-KTU graduate from Colombia.

Looking back, he sees his journey at KTU and Kaunas as a great adventure, which broadened his academic horizons and deepened his understanding of different cultures and perspectives. The experience has been a testament to the transformative power of stepping outside one’s comfort zone and embracing new challenges.

Looking for studies to fulfil your dreams? Choose your study program in Lithuania here.