Exchange Programs Abroad – A Chance to Reflect on Yourself

  • 2024-06-13

“When I go to study abroad with Erasmus, I understand that no one knows about my achievements, no one knows who I am, what knowledge I have. So you have to prove what you know. That’s interesting – it’s another opportunity to look at yourself from a different angle,” says Palina Salei, an English Philology student at Vytautas Magnus University (VMU), who spent a semester studying at the University of Alicante in Spain as part of an Erasmus+ exchange programme.

Palina asserts that studying abroad is an invaluable experience – especially in a culturally different country like Spain. “It was obviously another world. And in terms of career, international experience is always useful – not only for the knowledge gained but also for personal development,” says Palina, highlighting the so-called soft skills such as communication skills, problem-solving, teamwork, and time management.

Palina, who came to Lithuania from Belarus, says that what she liked the most about Spain was the people and the opportunity to meet people from a different culture. “I also liked the Spanish food and the architecture which combines different styles: it can be both modern and feature elements of the 19th century,” says Palina, listing her favourite aspects of Spanish culture. She adds that the only thing she hasn’t gotten used to is how loud the Spanish people can be.

The English Philology student at VMU is delighted that during her nearly six months in Alicante, she had the opportunity to attend various interesting lectures. “I liked all lectures because each was different and interesting. But my favourite one was Modern English Literature because I had a perfect professor, I still communicate with her. I liked that the lecturers in Spain are open-minded. On the other hand, in Lithuania, you know what you get the grades for and how you’ll be assessed, whereas in Spain, for me it was something unpredictable. But in the end, everything turned out fine,” Palina smiles.

She urges students in Lithuania who are considering an exchange abroad not to hesitate and to take advantage of the opportunity – the experience has left a lasting impression on her and has definitely been beneficial. Sharing her advice, Palina says it is important to make friends with both locals and other international students, and when going to more popular destinations, not to forget to arrange accommodation well in advance.

Tantoluwa Heritage Alabi, a Nigerian student studying Informatics at Vytautas Magnus University, also took the opportunity to study in Spain for a semester free of charge at the University of Alcalá, located near Madrid.

“It was a very beautiful experience. I really liked the lectures, group work, and the people there are very friendly and helpful, including the lecturers. My favourite lecture was on artificial intelligence; the lecturer was very good and always ready to answer any questions,” the student shares.

When asked about Spanish culture, Tantoluwa says she was particularly impressed by the warm people there. “Everyone talks to their neighbours; they are very friendly, even the bus drivers, whom everyone greets every morning,” she notes.

She reveals that her decision to go abroad through the exchange programme had a significant impact on her career, helping her decide on the specific field of informatics she wanted to pursue in her further studies. “I discovered a new area of interest. Moreover, I still apply the things I learned in Spain to my work,” says T. H. Alabi.

Tantoluwa, who came from Nigeria to study in Lithuania, says that she likes Vytautas Magnus University and Kaunas, especially the flexibility offered by VMU.

“I am an informatics student, but apart from my specialty subjects, I also have the opportunity to try out lectures in social sciences, learn languages, and explore other fields, and it gave me insight on other areas outside informatics. It’s been very interesting so far,” the student emphasises.

VMU offers exceptional opportunities for all students wishing to study or do internships abroad: the university currently has more than 600 Erasmus+ and bilateral cooperation partners in 75 countries around the world. Over the last decade, more than 3,000 VMU students have gone abroad for studies or internships.