Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Some reflections on my studies in Lithuania

When I tell a Lithuanian I’m a full time student in Kaunas their first question always is ‘Why on earth do you study here and not in the wonderful Netherlands?’. Well, that’s how my whole Baltic project turned out. However, I must admit I also absolutely love the way of teaching here. Vytautas Magnus University is a university of liberal arts. On forehand I didn’t really know what to expect with that term, but I guess I do now. I feel so much freedom, so much creativity. A little side note is at its place here. I’m still not completely used to the Lithuanian procrastinating kind of mentality. I had no idea that they would resemble so much like Spanish in their attitude towards deadlines. Maybe that’s the reason why there are so many happy Spanish exchange students in Kaunas. 

Nevertheless, to come back to my experiences at the university, I must say I’m very pleased with the variety and creativity within the classes. The professors actually never force us to write about a certain topic. We are free to find topics within our own field of interest. This way of teaching works very well for me.  I never knew I could have so much pleasure writing about identity matters on social media, (sexual) objectification, gender expectations and issues like homosexuality looked upon from a Dutch as well as contrary Russian perspective. Quite some feministic topics now I read them back once again… A while ago I attended two poster workshops in which vague ideas for articles are structured by creating a poster containing all kind of ideas, drawings, statistics and side notes. I always feel a bit like a 5-year-old when drawing around on such a big sheet of paper, however, this way of idea structuring actually works. I really value that professors undertake these kind of creative assignments with us. A few months ago I joined a seminar concerning marketing in which we had to clarify and develop our idea through some bricks of Lego. Amazing how your imagination is triggered during these kind of tasks. 

Even though there is a fair amount of assignments to fulfill during the semesters in Lithuania, attending classes is very relaxing. I remember my high school years in constant discomfort knowing ‘the teacher can ask me any minute about this topic and at the moment I just don’t have anything useful to add’.  Especially not when this was concerning mathematics. At Vytautas Magnus University I have never felt this stress. If I want to add something to what the professor asked I do that, as well during the cases I have a remark on a comment of my classmate. Interaction is encouraged and more than welcome even though I notice it are mainly the foreigners and just a handful of Lithuanians actually doing this. It seems like it’s not something Lithuanians are brought up with. This whole discussion culture which slowly makes its up rise feels nicely ‘Dutch’ to me. Yeah, I’m still very pleased I conquered my hesitation and decided to move to Lithuania to fulfill my master degree.

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