So you’re wondering where to study abroad in Europe? Reading through research and you bump into a country called Lithuania.
Wait, is this a country? Why have I never heard of this? Thought I was good at geography…
Anyway, Lithuania is one of the Baltic countries which is located in north-east ish Europe. And yes, it is in Europe. It borders Poland, Belarus, Latvia and Russia.
Yeah but I don’t know if it’s as cool as other European countries…
Well, that’s why you are here. Keep reading
Reasons why you should choose Lithuania
I have to admit, Lithuania is one of the cheapest countries in Europe, especially for students.
The cost of one bus ride across the city with student discount is 0.5€. Mad, innit?
Average rent in the city center is about 400€. But if you are like me, want to save money to travel, then consider staying in the dormitory, which costs only 58€ per month.
I don’t know about you but this number was the reason why I chose Lithuania.
But what can you expect from 58€? You will have to share a triple room, toilet with 5 people, and the kitchen with 20 people. Not cute though, but livable. Depends on your budget, really.
The Scenery and Nature
I was honestly mesmerised by how pretty Vilnius is when I first arrived. Everywhere looks a bit aesthetic and colour-oriented. It’s a bit white and brick-red ish, which matches the cold weather and the modern vibe.
The cities are photogenic, full of art and also nature. Honestly you can take lots of cool pictures everywhere here. And I do think Vilnius is honestly more beautiful and cleaner than lots of other European cities that have are flooded with tourists.
Lithuania also has beautiful beaches as well as nature.
Maybe you want to take a break from the city? Maybe you got tired of looking at sophisticated architecture, churches and nightclubs? It only takes 20 minutes by bus and you can find a tranquil spot by a lake or river.
I mean technically you are still in the city but it feels like the countryside.
If not, go to the beach. There are beautiful beaches in Klaipeda the port city. Honestly, you can have it all.
The Cultural Celebrations
Lithuania has the perfect harmony between modern and traditional values. There are lots of festivals where people play Lithuanian music, and dance in Lithuanian styles and eat traditional food.
People here adore their own culture. And they never forget to celebrate it.
This photo is me and my friend Moe at Užgavėnės festival in Vilnius, February 2020.
A major element of this festival is to symbolise the defeat of winter. On this day, Lithuanians put on costumes of joyful as well as frightening creatures to celebrate, they dance and eat the traditional dish of the holiday – pancakes with additional toppings.
Bars, Pubs and Nightlife
I said it before and I will say it again, Vilnius is a young city, full of young people and liveliness.
Nightclubs are everywhere and they are always lit.
If you like drinking and partying (but with cheap prices), Vilnius is definitely for you.
If not, don’t worry, there is always something happening in the city whether it’s a festival or a concert or an art project. You will never be bored.
Reasons why you should not choose Lithuania
Now there are always downsides, but keep in mind, these are my personal opinions which I got from my own experience of staying here.
So if you are ready for some real honest opinions, keep going.
Ok first thing first, if you come from an Asian country like me, there’s a high chance you will find the food here extremely tasteless.
Where are the spices???
Everything here is about potato and sour cream.
Ok I admit, my Asian ass didn’t know what sour cream tastes like before I got here and I was so excited to try. Turned out, sour cream tastes just like yogurt…
I saw many people on Youtube (mostly white people) trying pink soup (beetroot soup) which is the most classic traditional dish here and they all said this soup tastes amazing.
So the first thing I ate when I got here was pink soup and with all due respect, it tasted like yogurt to me, plain and cold.
Sorry if I am being uncultured, this is just my honest opinion.
But there are dishes that I think you should try and I would dedicate a whole new blog for this.
The Non-foreigner-friendly Environment
My honeymoon phrase started fading when I had so much, seriously so so much trouble finding a bottle of shower gel in the supermarket. I kinda had a tiny breakdown in the middle of the shop.
Nothing was written in English. I tried asking the staff but none of them spoke English and they didn’t really wanna try to help me.
So I had my ass sit on a bus for 30 minutes to get to a big mall and it was the same situation. I had more choices, obviously, but it did not help at all when everything is either in Lithuanian or Russian. Yes, if you’re wondering, I had a big breakdown in the middle of the big mall.
Ok, you might think “goddamn just see the image on the bottle”. Yes sir I did that and I ended up buying hand gel instead. So the lesson is, you gotta read the information.
Well, young people in their 20s or 30s might speak English well but I have never seen an older-than-40-year-old Lithuanian person speak English. And those people often work in places where you need the most help as a foreigner such as supermarket, transportation, police,…
Also, even if they can speak English, people are often too shy to speak in English, so they always end up avoiding talking to you.
What I have learned is Lithuanian people are still not used to having foreigners around because again, this is a new country. So maybe give it a decade, I’m sure things will be easier and more welcoming towards foreigners.
The Cold Weather and The Colder People
Y’all could probably guess how cold the weather is in here. I mean Lithuania is right underneath Finland.
So the winter can hit quite hard in the face.
But if you think nothing here can be colder, you’re deadly wrong.
Let me introduce: The Lithuanians!!
Ok before y’all come for me saying “omg you’re just assuming. Not everybody here is like that”
Girl I’m talking from the experience I got from the majority of Lithuanian people that I have met and interacted with. I’m not saying all of them are ice cold, what I’m saying is the characteristic that the majority here share is being cold af.
Do you get it?
In other words, Lithuanians are cold to different degrees, some are colder and some are warmer but overall as a group, Lithuanians are colder than other nationalities. That is my PERSONAL opinion.
People don’t smile often, even if you’re the customer.
Service is quite bad. An example is, I called my dormitory admin to ask if I can move to a double room with my boyfriend and she deadass replied “today is my last day before my vacation, so I don’t have time for that, wait till I come back to the office”. First of all I called in the morning, in her working hours. Second of all, isn’t she paid to answer students’ questions? Third of all, was I supposed to keep track on when she starts and finishes her vacation? Fuck’s sake.
Anyway, enough ranting. My point is, that kind of situation happened to me REALLY often, and not just from that admin woman.
Maybe I was spoiled in Japan where everyone is so overly friendly and warm. Or maybe the Lithuanians I have met are just cold and rude. Please let me know what you think.
My international friends that I have here also shared the same experience with me, lots of times. We also have a hard time making local friends.
Ok it was a long read and I just want to sum things up here so you can evaluate them for yourself.
Lithuania is for you if what you have in mind is a lit exchange year when you hang out with your international friends, going to clubs and bars and traveling around mainly. If you like to stay in a beautiful city full of art, sports and liveliness with incredibly cheap price and you don’t mind not working and interacting with the local people.
But if you want to learn about the culture, get to know local people,
if you don’t like drinking or partying, and the biggest factor is,
if you are thinking of doing part-time jobs while studying here
There is a high chance you will feel disappointed and isolated (especially during the school breaks).
I hope this gives you a bit of the picture of my study abroad in Lithuania experience. Again, these are my personal opinions and I’m open to hear yours!!