Studies in Mauritius – An Enchanting Island Where African, Asian and European Traditions Blend

  • 2024-06-28

“The culture of Mauritius is unique and rich, combining African, Indian, European, and Chinese traditions. It was a strange experience to live in a country where so many different cultures and beliefs coexist, and, most importantly, where people respect one another and conflicts are rare,” says Jacinta Vaičekauskaitė, a Master’s student in Marketing and International Commerce at Vytautas Magnus University (VMU), who studied in Mauritius – an enchanting and multicultural island where it is always warm and sunny – for nearly four months through the Erasmus+ exchange programme.

Jacinta, along with another student from the same study programme, Julius Kubilynas, studied at the University of Mauritius, located in the country’s capital, Port Louis. The students say that this experience will greatly benefit both their studies and careers: they had the opportunity to immerse themselves in a completely different culture, enhance their independence, and gain international experience, which is highly valued in the labour market.

“We also got to see how businesses operate on the other side of the world. This is particularly useful as today’s world is becoming increasingly globalised and intercultural skills are becoming more and more important. This is especially relevant for us, as we are studying Marketing and International Commerce,” emphasises Jacinta Vaičekauskaitė.

Like heaven on Earth

Mauritius captivated the students from the very first moments, like heaven on earth with its blue skies, white sandy beaches, towering mountains, and the ever-warm sun. The weather in this country is always excellent: in summer, which lasts from November to April, temperatures range from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius, while the winter season is only slightly cooler, with average temperatures around 20 degrees. The students were delighted not only by the beauty of nature but also by the hospitality and smiles of the local people.

“The island isn’t large, but there was always something to see and places to visit. The rhythm of life in Mauritius is quite different from what we are used to in Lithuania. The cities wake up early in the morning and empty out in the evenings. Shops, cafés, and restaurants usually close by 4 p.m., sometimes even earlier. However, we quickly adapted to the local rhythm and started our days earlier than usual,” Jacinta says.

VMU student Julius Kubilynas, who, along with Jacinta, also studied at the University of Mauritius, is happy that this trip was an opportunity not only to gain valuable experience but also to become acquainted with a university in another country. Julius explains that the teaching style at this university is somewhat stricter than at VMU, and the homework is less interesting. 

“This semester, most of the focus was on economics and business courses. We have to admit that these courses were quite difficult at the University of Mauritius. Despite this, the teachers were very friendly and tried to help. We especially enjoyed the business economics course because the teacher explained everything very vividly and made an effort to ensure everyone understood the complex concepts and processes,” Julius says.

Weekends are spent by the ocean

Sharing his thoughts on the culture of Mauritius, Julius notes that family holds a special place. “The locals highly value their relatives and strive to spend as much time together as possible. At weekends, large families gather at the beaches, some bringing chairs, rugs, and tables covered with tablecloths and decorated with flowers, and some even building sun shelters. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the beach, you can always hear families playing drums and singing,” shares Julius, adding that on weekends, the cities empty out and the action moves to the ocean. 

The students spent their leisure time productively – travelling around the island, hiking in the mountains, relaxing on the beaches, and participating in local festivals and music events where they made local friends. They also made it a point to try as many different dishes as possible – the local food is truly unique.

“Mauritius has a unique cuisine that features flavours from India and Africa. Whereas Lithuanian cuisine is dominated by potatoes, in Mauritius, noodles and rice prevail. Among the most popular dishes are farata, a pancake stuffed with vegetables or meat; fried noodles known as mine frite; dumplings in broth called boulette; a rice dish with meat and vegetables known as briyani; and a pastry filled with meat, vegetables, or fish called samosa,” says Julius.

According to Julius, the locals in Mauritius are friendly and always ready to help. Living there, he found himself talking to strangers more often than back home – in the streets or shops, where residents, often encountering Lithuanians for the first time, would strike up a conversation. “When we attended any traditional festival, everyone welcomed us as one of their own, offering food and drinks, and telling us about their traditions. Participating in these festivals, we made many friends and even received a few wedding invitations,” Julius rejoices.

Exchange studies – one of the best things to experience

This is not the first time Julius and Jacinta have gone abroad through the Erasmus+ exchange programme. They encourage students to try this experience, as it is one of the best things you can do during your studies.

“It is an invaluable opportunity not only to broaden your horizons but also to make new friends from all around the world, travel, improve your foreign language skills, and step out of your comfort zone. Studying in a foreign country offers a chance to immerse yourself in the local life and experience the culture more deeply than merely visiting the country on holiday,” Julius stresses.

VMU offers exceptional opportunities for all students wishing to study or undertake internships abroad: the university currently has more than 600 Erasmus+ and bilateral cooperation partners from 75 countries worldwide. Over the last decade, more than three thousand VMU students have gone abroad for studies or internships.