At the moment, Vilnius University (VU) offers 47 study programmes and over 600 courses in English. This number increases every year, therefore more and more foreign students decide to study at VU. Craig Thomson, a student at VU Institute of International Relations and Political Science (VU IIRPS), says foreign students feel welcome in the university and rarely encounter any major problems.
Craig grew up in Derby (United Kingdom). After graduating from high school, he chose to study Youth and children’s work, because he wanted to give back to the community. “I used to go into a youth group when I was younger – it was very healthy environment to make friends. I am from a rather deprived area of Derby. You can find home abuse and other problems in any area, but it is especially easy for a young person to get involved with gangs or drugs in a deprived area. The youth group was a positive place you could get to, rather than getting into these things. I really felt like what I gained from my youth group was very useful and inspirational, so I wanted to help people who don’t have the same opportunities as others”, C. Thomson said.
Got interested in politics – came to Lithuania
Craig wanted to get involved with the local area so he ran for council but, unfortunately, he did not get elected. Nevertheless, his interest in politics and international events continued to grow. He became especially interested in Eastern Europe, so he started searching for studies related to the region.
He was quick to find a study programme in VU IIRPS that matched his interests. “Eastern European and Russian studies is an unusual choice for an Englishman, that’s true. I suppose I chose to study here because I have a few friends who are from Lithuania, so I already knew a bit of the language. I was simply comfortable in Lithuania – I have visited 15 times before I actually moved here”, C. Thomson said.
He chose Vilnius University because his Lithuanian friends spoke highly of it. Besides, a quick Google search showed him that Vilnius University is ranked among the top universities in the world. According to Craig, “it is a well-established university and an incredible place to get an international degree. The lecturers that we have are proficient in English, they speak fluently and there is never a language barrier, they never struggle to say what they want to say. And most of information in the university webpage requires one click to show it in English”.
New prospective studies and career in Lithuania
Louie Khalili, an International business student at VU Business School, speaks four languages fluently: Arabic, English, German and Russian. He has always planned to pursue an international career as an entrepreneur. Even while he was studying a completely different field, Louie regularly looked for niches in the market and opportunities to invest in or searched for investors for his own projects.
Therefore, when he finally decided it was time for some change, he started researching various potential study programmes. At first, L. Khalili looked at the universities, with whom his previous university had partnership programmes: “That was one of the criteria, but most importantly, I looked at the international university rankings. I immediately noticed that Vilnius University rose 80 to 100 positions every year. This incredible progress is the main reason why I am here”, said Louie.
Louie also researched Vilnius and Lithuania – through articles, tourists’ reviews, and even YouTube videos. He was quite impressed with how rapidly the citygrew in the past 5 years. That, combined with how innovative the university is, helped him to make the final decision of moving to Lithuania and studying at VU.
Students feel welcome
Louie says that he also never encountered a language barrier: “Of course, I am in a quite unique position here since I know both English and Russian, but I never had to use my Russian skills at the university. Every single person who works in the Business school speaks perfect English without a hint of an accent”.
At the moment, Louie is finishing his first year of International Business studies and he says that he is very happy here. “We have a lot of international and Erasmus students in our Business School, with whom I enjoy spending my free time and in whose events I regularly participate. I studied in Germany for 7 years and I have to admit, German universities do not do half the work that the VU does for its international students. All those local and international trips, meetings, and activities – I was really impressed by the tremendous effort the tutors of the Erasmus Student Network put in. So I think the general attitude is that they feel quite welcome here”, said L. Khalili.
After almost a year spent in Lithuania, Louie mentioned that he could think of only one common complaint that most international students have here – it gets quite cold during the winter. He said that he personally enjoys the cold weather, but when the temperatures drop below –20ºC, some students from Spain, Italy, and other Southern European countries get extremely cold. But, according to Louie, now that it got warmer, they like it here a lot – he himself can’t believe how completely different the city looks in the summer, compared to the winter.