KTU international students’ stories – from winter sports to scientific activities
“Winter is my beloved season in Lithuania,” says Gurban, a Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) student of Informatics from Azerbaijan. Coming from a warm country, he dreamed of experiencing the magical snowy winter in Lithuania.
Gurban’s impressions about studying at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) and living in Kaunas through winter can be found on his Unibuddy blog post on KTU Ambassadors’ page.
Here he shares his favourite spots to walk in Kaunas in winter, such as Panemunė Forest Park, Petrašiūnai Park next to Kaunas Reservoir, aka Kauno Marios. Winter sports, such as skating, sledging and skiing are something that the Informatics student from Azerbaijan is advising to try.
“In front of Kaunas Castle, you will notice small hills where children go down on the sledges, but there are high hills as well, made by Kaunas nature, especially for adults and teenagers,” says Gurban.
In his blog, you can find loads of tips for a quality time both at the University and outside of campus from the point of view of an international student.
Help when you need it most
If you are interested in studying at KTU, but are not sure what it feels like living in Kaunas, going to lectures on campus or using the University’s facilities, the best way is to chat with someone similar to you. On the KTU Ambassadors’ page you can talk to someone who is from your country, is studying at the same programme you are interested in, or shares similar hobbies. Since July 2020, 26,345 questions have been answered by KTU ambassadors.
Alejandra Gutierrez Luna from Nicaragua came to Kaunas at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, in October 2020. At the time, all the teaching was online, and there were many restrictions to the social life – it took three months for her to visit the city centre.
“My saviour was the KTU Ambassador, a student from my country, who also was studying the same subject. I was contacted by him right away after coming to Kaunas – he started teaching me how everything works. I am very grateful to the university for telling him: look, there is this girl from your country, check on her,” remembers Alejandra, who is one of the ambassadors herself.
On her blog page, she talks about her experience of participating in a scientific conference and being awarded as one of the best presenters.
“While trying something new I achieved more than I expected!” says Alejandra, who has already lived on three continents and came to architecture after studying medicine.
Honest stories from an international KTU student, someone similar to you
People’s incredible stories and personal perspective is something that can be trusted. By chatting with a student ambassador, especially to someone who is still a student at KTU, you are connecting yourself to a KTU community. You can reach out to them with questions that you have before the arrival, and keep the connection live once you come here.
“KTU boasts a vibrant international student community. Studying here means you’ll have the opportunity to interact with and learn from students from around the world, making for a rich and diverse cultural experience,” says Safiyya from Azerbaijan, studying business and entrepreneurship.
She likes studying at KTU because of the high quality of education, research opportunities, possibilities to get funding for your studies, and the plentitude of academic and after-class activities that the university offers.
“University is not just about studying. It is about exploration. It’s about discovering who you are,” says Francois from South Africa.
A final year student of Mechatronics at KTU, in his blog, Francois talks about his experiences of creating new projects with his teachers and colleagues. One of those projects was creating beautiful installations for the 13.7 Lights Festival, which took place in the autumn of 2022.
“As part of the green team, I helped build a magnificent hexagon-inspired installation. I was the only international student in my team, and the mechanical part of the project was my responsibility,” says Francois.
Although at the beginning he was concerned about communication with his Lithuanian teammates, as everybody needed to communicate in English, they got along well and became good friends through the course of the project.
KTU Ambassadors’ page, enabled by Unibuddy, is full of honest and inspiring stories similar to those above. They are all current KTU students or alumni happy to share their experiences on studying at KTU and living in Kaunas, Lithuania. If you are interested in studying with us, chat with our students.
There are around 2.8 million people who are native speakers of Lithuanian language in Lithuania. There are an additional 200,000 speakers residing elsewhere.
This makes the Lithuanian language highly distinctive and unique!
In fact, it is renowned for being the most conservative among the existing Indo-European languages, as it retains linguistic features from the Proto-Indo-European language that have been lost in other languages.
Would you like to learn it? Good news! This summer you can!
Attend Lithuanian language and culture summer courses! Apply for a scholarship and get your tuition fee covered.
The courses will be organized at the following 6 institutions:
Want to know more? The eligibility requirements and details on how to apply are LISTED HERE.
Apply today! The deadlines are in late February and early March, depending on the institution, but don’t wait till the last minute.
January 15, 2024
PhD Candidate Mahyar Kamali Saraji: I Have Found a Career Path That Allows Me to Pursue My Passions
An academic journey might span continents and shape a narrative that exemplifies the global nature of intellectual pursuits. PhD Candidate and Researcher of Vilnius University (VU) in the field of Energy Economics Mahyar Kamali Saraji shares his experience of an individual career path led by passions for critical thinking, writing, and reviewing. The scholar feels fortunate to find himself in an environment full of curious, inventive and visionary people and sees it as an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy through his written contributions.
Best decision ever made
“I have a deep love for learning and find great joy in pursuing knowledge. As a philomath, I am always seeking new challenges and opportunities to broaden my understanding of the world around me. I am confident that I will excel in academia and make meaningful contributions to pursuing knowledge,” says the PhD Candidate. He views an academic environment as a perfect platform to explore his interests and expand the horizons of knowledge.
He grew up surrounded by engineers in his family, M. Kamali Saraji says, he always dreamed of becoming an engineer. “After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, I realised that my true passion lies elsewhere. I had the courage to make a change and pursue a major in social sciences, and it has been the best decision I have ever made,” he says and carves his own path towards a fulfilling career following his heart.
Methods led to research at VU
“My supervisor, Prof. Dalia Štreimikienė, works for the Kaunas faculty of Vilnius University. She is an esteemed scientist in field of multi-criteria decision-making methods, which are popular in various parts of the world, including China, India, the USA, Iran, and Lithuania. And it is my primary area of interest. Her work in particular inspired me to come to Lithuania, specifically to Kaunas,” says PhD Candidate and Researcher of VU in the field of Energy Economics M. Kamali Saraji.
“As a researcher focused on sustainable energy development, I believe that VU has the potential to significantly contribute to addressing the challenges we face. However, to do so, we need to expand our disciplines to include areas such as environmental, climate, and materials science, as well as practical fields like renewable energy engineering. By doing this, we can equip ourselves with the knowledge and skills needed to make a positive impact in the climate action era,” believes the young scientist in his career path that allows to pursue passions for critical thinking, writing, and reviewing. As a scholar, he feels fortunate to find himself in an environment full of curious, inventive, and visionary people.
Opportunity to positively impact the world
“I am inspired by the opportunity to positively impact the world and tackle urgent environmental and social issues. The prospect of developing innovative solutions and technologies that promote sustainability drives me forward,” says M. Kamali Saraji. He is passionate about discovering new ways to conserve the environment, harness renewable energy, and manage resources efficiently.
“Furthermore, I am driven by my dreams, one of which is to be among the top 1% of most cited researchers in my field, motivating me to publish more and more. Although academia can be challenging with the “publish or perish” mentality, I see it as an opportunity to conduct more research and grow as a scholar,” speaks promising PhD Candidate. He believes, the most significant benefit of studies is the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy through your written contributions, which have the potential to be immortalised and influence generations to come.
Entertainment is food for the soul
“Life is an adventure, and I’m always ready for the next exciting chapter!” says M. Kamali Saraji. In his free time, he’s off exploring the world and taking advantage of the incredible travel opportunities living in Europe offers. As a must, he also finds exploring the beautiful historic buildings with stunning facades in the old towns of Kaunas and Vilnius, as well as the unique nature of Birštonas, that was a wonderful experience for him. He also is willing to visit Nemuno Santaka and Kadagių Slėnis at least once.
“Even before coming here, I knew about Lithuania’s famous basketball team and amber, and now I am grateful for the opportunity to experience everything this beautiful country offers. I have made some incredible discoveries since I arrived in this country!” smiles M. Kamali Saraji “And let me tell you, I have tasted the most delicious and colourful soup in the world – šaltibarščiai is an absolute must-try!” proudly says M. Kamali Saraji about his gastronomic experiences in Lithuania.
Despite coming from a warm country, he has found a way to survive in temperatures as low as -25C, but these days, like many people, he spends most of my free time watching movies and going to the cinema. “I live and breathe cinema, and I even dreamed of becoming a movie critic at one point. In fact, my master’s thesis was all about the fascinating world of the film industry,” tells Mahyar about his passion and another way of discovering the world of the silver screen that is also based on problem-solving.
Before joining Mykolas Romeris University, I was working at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, which is a non-profit organization focused on providing vulnerable and orphaned youth in Rwanda the necessary healing, education and love.
I decided to choose studies in Lithuania after discussion with a friend. He introduced me to several schools including the MRU in Lithuania. I did some research about the country, found that Lithuania has a strong education system with reputable universities and academic programs. Many institutions here offer courses in English which makes it accessible to international students who may not be fluent in Lithuanian language. The cost of living and tuition fees are affordable compared to some other Western European countries. Lithuanian people are welcoming, food is nice, nature is beautiful and the public transportation is reliable.
I would definitely recommend to study at MRU because studies is affordable and the cost of living is low compared to the other universities of Western European Union, the process of admission is easy and the university help in visa process where you get all the required documents on time and International students office is eager to support at any time to smooth the process before and after joining the University.
MRU offers their programs in English which is helpful to the international students to pursue their studies. It provides the internship in different countries which help students build valuable contacts and enhance their career prospects without segregation based on gender, race or religion.
The MRU has well equipped classrooms, library and technology which contribute to a conducive learning environment, all learning facilities/material are on Moodle (the system used by the student and University), the studies are conducted online or in person and the school gives the opportunity to the students to work during the day because the lectures are given during evening and the professors are so helpful and supportive.
The Internships of Foreign Students and Graduates of the “UPinLT” Project Will be Implemented by Eight Lithuanian Universities
The Education Exchanges Support Foundation has signed contracts with eight Lithuanian universities, which will participate in the “UpinLT” project (Foreign Practitioners in Lithuania Program).
At the beginning of November, after the end of the competition and the evaluation of the submitted applications, it was noted that the activities of foreign students and graduates’ internships in Lithuania will be implemented by the following Lithuanian higher education institutions:
You can find the list of universities, information on quota distribution and allocated funding here.
You can find more information about the competition here.
It is planned that by the end of the “UpinLT” project (August 31, 2024), as many as 275 foreign students and graduates will perform work practices directly related to their study program in companies and organizations operating in Lithuania. The duration of internships for foreign students will be 2 to 6 months, and the internships and internships of graduates can last from 4 to 6 months.
Almost EUR 600,000 of European Union investment program funds are provided for scholarships for foreign students.
December 14, 2023
VMU student from USA: “The Story of a Mysterious Book that Brought Me Here”
This interview is a vibrant story of Lisa Storer, a current PhD student at Vytautas Magnus University. It is a conversation about Lisa’s personal and professional path to Kaunas and Vytautas Magnus university, her passionate discovery of her research topic and her views on the university.
Lisa, you are from California. And now we are having a conversation over a cup of tea in Kaunas. Can you tell me your story? How did you end up here, in Lithuania?
I know; it’s really crazy. When I tell people, they ask me – “You are living where? Lithuania? What are you doing there?” I have to explain that the journey that led me to Kaunas began in 2015, when the Freie Universitat in Berlin sent a book to my mother’s home in Inverness, California. The book was from the library of my grandmother’s cousin, Dr. Paul Elkan Bernhardt. His library was confiscated by a Nazi named, Dr. Bilfinger, who designated both Dr. Bernhardt and his library as enemies of the Third Reich. Dr. Bernhardt committed suicide on July 25, 1942, and his entire library of hundreds of books was transferred on October 5, 1942, to the Reich Security Main Office to Department VII where Jewish-owned books were evaluated to find evidence as to why all Jews should be exterminated. When Germany created a system to return looted Jewish books, researchers looked for a book plate, an Ex Libris, to find the owners’ name. They identified Dr. Bernhardt as the owner of the book by his Ex Libris and then found his will that had survived in a Potsdam bank. It was Dr. Bernhardt’s will that led to my mother’s address in Inverness the U.S.
Now, I have to explain that my grandmother, after converting to Catholicism, married my grandfather, a German Catholic, in 1928 in Berlin. They emigrated to California in 1929. Although my grandmother denied that she was Jewish, we knew that she was because she had changed her name on my mother’s birth certificate from Hirschfeld to Hirtfelt. At one point, we asked her what happened to her family during the Holocaust and she explained that they had all emigrated to England, but it turned out that many had not. One of them was her cousin, Dr. Bernhardt.
In 2018, we received a letter stating that two more of Dr. Bernhardt’s books had been found. Curious as to who Dr. Bernhardt was, I wrote to the Freie Universitat that I would pick up the books personally and explained that I wanted to speak with someone about them. At the time, I was employed as a high school and college English teacher, working primarily with migrant students from Mexico and Central America, many of whom wanted vocational careers. By chance I stumbled upon a Fulbright program in Regensburg that was seeking high school teachers to visit German vocational secondary schools. I applied and was accepted. I arrived in Germany a week prior to the start of the program to pick up Dr. Bernhardt’s two books and to meet with an archivist. She gave me a copy of Dr. Bernhardt’s will and a copy of the forty-page list of his books that the Nazis had typed. As I read the list, I soon realized that I had a number of the same books in my own library, so I had to find out more about Dr. Bernhardt. Realizing that I would need to enroll in a university to gain access to materials, in 2019, I applied and was accepted into the University of Haifa’s Holocaust Studies Program to then enroll in a class on the Soviet Union to learn about the Baltic states which I knew nothing about. In the class, I read a manuscript that several anonymous Kovno ghetto Jewish policemen wrote collectively that pleaded for historians to study their work to understand what they were going through. I was haunted by their plea and soon discovered that Jewish ghetto policemen, in the literature, are collectively labeled as brutal and corrupt collaborators. This caused me to want to understand the lives of the individual men who wrote the manuscript in the Kovno ghetto.And their stories are really fascinating.
So interesting indeed! So tell me more about your journey to Kaunas.
I originally came to Kaunas from Haifa through the Erasmus+ program. A majority of my peers had planned to go to Germany through Erasmus and I had planned to go there as well, but after I read the manuscript written by Kovno ghetto Jewish policemen, I decided to go to Lithuania. My plan was to study the Lithuanian language in Vilnius for one semester while conducting research in the archives, and then to move to Kaunas where I had arranged an internship with the Ninth Fort Museum. I was hoping to learn Lithuanian, but I quickly realized that the Lithuanian language is incredibly challenging to learn. At that point, fate intervened and through the advice of Professor Audronė Janužytė and Professor Šarūnas Liekis, I transferred to Vytautas Magnus University’s Erasmus+ program, as the Kovno ghetto was the focus of my research.
I see, you came here as an Erasmus+ student and ended up as a PhD student at VMU. How did it actually happen?
After I moved from Vilnius to Kaunas, I asked the director of VMU’s Erasmus+ if I could stay enrolled at VMU for a full year, as I needed to take as many Lithuanian language classes as possible. Through the amazing help of the director, I was able to do so which I am so thankful for. I also realized that there was so much material in the archives about the men in my study. After one semester, I had only scratched the surface. I knew that if I was to actually learn about the lives of the men, I would need to apply to VMU’s PhD program, to have enough time in the archives. Dr. Linas Venclauskas, although he is extremely busy, as he teaches at the university and he is a curator at the Sugihara House Museum, worked with me for several months to help me revise my PhD proposal. To my amazement and joy, I was accepted as a PhD student at VMU in September 2023.
At first, my proposal to the university’s PhD program focused on the lives of 20 Jewish ghetto policemen who I identified as active members of the underground working in the guise of ghetto policemen. Dr. Venclauskas advised me to expand the criteria of my subject selection. I followed his advice and I am discovering information about the lives of Jewish policemen that I know I would not have otherwise. I also have realized that conducting my research in Lithuania is so important in terms of being able to fully understand the lives of the men who were born and raised here in Kaunas.
So what are your impressions of VMU?
My first semester at VMU, when I was taking in-person classes, there were so many Ukrainian students. They were so happy to continue their studies and the professors were so visibly supportive of them. I was in awe as to what Lithuania did right away – bringing Ukrainian students to the university, finding housing for them, supporting them. That was really impressive. And the VMU student body is so diverse. I have met so many interesting and determined international students. Also, so many people have been really helpful as I pursue my research – from the director of the Erasmus+ program to VMU history professors to VMU language teachers to VMU librarians to the Kaunas archivists – I feel able to conduct research here and move forward in terms of understanding. But one missing piece is to be able to speak Lithuanian, but thankfully, I will have four more years to learn.
Thank you so much, Lisa, for such an interesting, enriching conversation and sharing your story with all of us. Wishing you a meaningful journey here at VMU!
Interview by Laura Lapinskė
October 24, 2023
Choosing in Global World: United States Universities or Vilnius University?
In 2022, the Global Marketing programme at Vilnius University’s (VU) Faculty of Economics and Business Administration received acclaim as Lithuania’s leading marketing programme. This curriculum places a strong emphasis on both traditional and digital marketing, equipping students to assess business opportunities and thrive in today’s interconnected global society. Global marketing cultivates specialists skilled in analysing markets, devising marketing plans, executing campaigns, and managing logistics, both locally and in a cross-cultural context.
David Jordan Guerra, a current student of Global Marketing from the United States, has chosen to share his insights into the study programme from an international student’s perspective.
Can you tell where are you from and what brought you to Vilnius?
I was born and raised in Austin, Texas USA. I am currently a Global Marketing at VU. I came to study here two years ago and since then I’ve been very happy about my decision. Not going to lie, we have very polar cultures and understanding of several things, but I was very excited to come to learn things from another perspective.
You mentioned about how different our cultures are. Are there lots of differences in education methods?
One of the most noticeable differences between education in the United States and at VU lies in the balance between theoretical and practical education. In the United States, the emphasis tends to be more on theoretical knowledge, with students delving into comprehensive academic subjects. In contrast, VU places a strong emphasis on practical applications and real-world skills. This means that students at VU often have more opportunities to engage in hands-on learning experiences, which can better prepare them for the demands of the professional world.
VU sets itself apart by fostering a direct connection between academia and the professional realm. Professors at VU are actively engaged in their respective fields, often maintaining close ties to their professions. This is in stark contrast to the US, where some professors may have been detached from real-world professional experiences for an extended period. In fields like marketing and economics, for example, VU professors regularly apply their knowledge in practical scenarios, enabling them to provide students with relevant, up-to-date insights.
How do you personally feel about these differences now?
Lithuania, and VU in particular, has emerged as an open field for new ideas and innovations, especially in the realm of business and startups. Unlike the United States, where established structures often dominate the business landscape, Lithuania’s environment encourages the cultivation of novel concepts and entrepreneurial ventures. This enables students at VU to explore uncharted territories, experiment with fresh ideas, and contribute to the growth of the nation’s economy.
VU boasts a faculty that is comparatively younger in age, reflecting a concerted effort to align with contemporary trends and paradigms. This is a contrast to some United States institutions, where the academic community can sometimes lean towards more established, traditional methods. Younger professors at VU tend to be more adaptable to evolving educational approaches, enabling them to better address the needs and preferences of modern students. Their successes are often indicative of their ability to stay in tune with the latest developments in their fields.
While the United States and Lithuania’s VU both offer valuable educational experiences, their approaches diverge in several significant ways. VU’s focus on practical education, engaged professors with real-world experience, innovation culture, and a younger, trend-savvy faculty creates a unique and vibrant academic environment. Recognizing these distinctions provides students with the opportunity to choose an education that aligns with their individual learning preferences and aspirations.
Has D. J. Guerra’s story sparked your interest in visiting Lithuania or exploring the study field of Global Marketing? Consider the prospect of studying in a multicultural environment to broaden your horizons. Just like D. J. Guerra, you can gain knowledge not only from your coursework but also from the diverse perspectives and study methods of your international peers. Join VU’s international community.
Meet “Study in LT” ar Higher Education Fairs in South America!
ATTENTION students from Brazil and Argentina!
Want to get a European diploma from a recognized university? Attend the following education fairs in South America and explore Lithuania as a study destination for international students!
BRAZIL WHAT: Study in Europe Fair Brazil WHERE: Renaissance Hotel (Alameda Santos, 2233 – Jardim Paulista, São Paulo – SP, 01419-002, Brazil) WHEN: 28 October 2023
ARGENTINA WHAT: Study in Europe Fair Argentina WHERE: Hotel Sheraton, Buenos Aires (San Martín 1225 1275, C1104 CABA, Argentina) WHEN: 30 October 2023
Meet us at the fairs and explore Lithuania as a study destination for international students!
• More than 600 English-taught Bachelor, Master and PhD programmes and diplomas recognized in the European Union
• Scholarships for all levels and fields of study, including merit-based scholarships
• Affordable costs of studying and living in the country
• A possibility to work up to 20 hours per week while studying
• The right to stay in the country for 15 months after graduation to search for a job
• A unique multicultural experience in the country that connects Western and Eastern Europe
October 12, 2023
Become Vilnius University Student for a Day!
Registration is now open for Vilnius University’s (VU) event, “Student for a Day.” This experience isn’t just for school pupils; it’s for anyone curious about higher education, regardless of age or background, including international students. It offers a chance to immerse yourself in the world of academia, discover what being a student entails, and explore the intriguing study programs that might capture your interest.
Imagine this: as a participant, you’re invited to attend lectures not at one or two but at 15 faculties, including those in Kaunas and Šiauliai. You’ll mingle with current VU students, and here’s the exciting part – you can choose to join in person or virtually. If English is your preferred language, rest assured that there are lectures available in English, specially tailored for international participants!
From October 23rd to 27th, you won’t be a passive observer. Instead, you’ll be actively engaged in lectures, seminars, and special sessions. It’s not just about visiting VU and its faculties; it’s an opportunity to acquire new knowledge, broaden your horizons, and find answers to those lingering questions about what to study.
But why should you consider becoming a student for a day? Well, higher education institutions aren’t one-size-fits-all. They come in various shapes and sizes, with different study locations, facilities, and student communities. Take VU, for instance – its units are spread across Vilnius, from the historic Old Town to the bustling Saulėtekis. There are also locations on M. K. Čiurlionio Street and Naugarduko Street, not to mention faculties in Šiauliai and Kaunas. By participating, you can explore these diverse environments and see if they resonate with your preferences, regardless of whether you’re a prospective student or just curious.
Now, let’s talk about the people who’ll be shaping your academic experience – the lecturers. Building a connection with them is vital, and “Student for a Day” provides an ideal platform to meet these educators, get to know them a bit, and ask any questions you might have. Moreover, you’ll get a glimpse into the unique format of VU lectures, which is different from traditional school classes or other university lectures.
Still not convinced? Here’s the big revelation – past “Student for a Day” participants have praised how this experience provided them with invaluable insights into their desired study programs. By actively participating in lectures and seminars, they gained hands-on experience of what their future studies would entail. It’s like a trial run for your academic journey, helping you decide which path to take.
Ready to embark on this educational adventure? For more information and to secure your spot in the lectures, simply click here. It’s an opportunity open to everyone, including international students eager to explore the world of higher education.
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