Georgian Student: Kaunas is Becoming More International

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This academic year 9 degree studies students from Georgia are studying at VDU. One of them is Revaz Janshia. This active and interesting young man has visited Lithuania earlier – he studied at VMU as a bilateral exchange student. After spending a few months in Lithuania and getting to know the country, Revaz decided to come back here for a longer period of time. The young man’s willingness to become a student of VMU was also encouraged by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania, which provided a scholarship for Master studies. Please make acquaintance with this motivated young individual.

I know that you were a bilateral exchange student at VMU before you came back to Lithuania and started degree studies at VMU. What are the reasons that made you come back?

There were several reasons for coming back to Kaunas. Firstly, it was obviously VMU and the educational quality. Here I really felt that my studies were focused on my future career and this educational background would be useful for me. This university, especially its personnel, made me feel very comfortable. Secondly, it was the city which has this unique atmosphere of a student city. I noticed that it has become even more international than it was when I came here for the first time a couple of years ago, and it’s great. The last but not the least reason was the available scholarship granted by the Ministry of Science and Education of Lithuania to students from Georgia, which was a great opportunity by itself.

What motivated you to look for possibilities to get experience in international studies?

I came from Georgia, a post-soviet state oriented towards the West – mainly the EU. One of the highest values of the EU is mobility, and it has always been something Georgians admire. The possibility to get education abroad at the best universities was restricted to elites in the 1990s, but now the situation has changed and I wanted to make the best use of it. I firmly believe that international studies are the only way for personal development and a prerequisite for a successful career.

How did you come up with the idea to come to Lithuania for the first time?

I was always interested in the post-Soviet states that managed to overcome the Soviet past issues and successfully join the European community. Thus the Baltic states have always been in my focus – especially Lithuania. I remember their support during the war in August 2008, which made me research Lithuania more and since then I’d been searching for a possibility to explore this country, so when my university announced the call for applications to study in Lithuania via bilateral agreement I knew I was not going to miss this opportunity.

Has Kaunas changed since your last visit?

I have already mentioned that Kaunas has become more international than it used to be, and this is great. It is much easier nowadays to get around the city, to do daily routines like shopping or ordering pizza, since an increasing number of locals speak English. This is especially noticeable among the youth and in communication with them.

What cultural experiences made the biggest impression? What are the main differences between Georgians and Lithuanians?

It might sound hilarious at first, but the drivers were the biggest shock. In Georgia they are reckless and never tend to give way to pedestrians. I remember when I was crossing the crossroad in Lithuania for the first time and how delightful it was when I was given a free pass and did not hear the annoying beeping while on the way. However, sometimes I miss the short-tempered nature of Georgians, in my opinion Lithuanians tend to be too reserved in certain situations, which is quite unusual for a person coming from Georgia like myself.

What do you like the most about Lithuania?

It is the easiest question – everything except the weather, obviously. However, to my delight it has become much sunnier here than it used to be.

What are the main differences between studying at Georgian and Lithuanian universities?

I think the main difference is the well organized study process. In Georgian universities the organizational aspect is always lagging behind other areas. Secondly, I would stress the professionalism of the professors teaching at VMU. Unlike Georgian universities, where often high rank officials are leading certain courses, in Lithuania the professors do know how and what they are teaching. The issue here is that high rank officials know how to get things done, but they often lack the ability to pass on this knowledge, which in my opinion is much more important for a student.

Why did you choose the Diplomacy and International Relations study programme? What are your vocational plans and dreams in the future after graduation?

I received my Bachelor Diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy, thereby it was a logical decision for me to pursue a Master’s degree in the same field, in order to become a better professional and to make it easier to find a job in my field, which is quite a challenge for any recent graduate. I also plan to undergo an internship at the Georgian Embassy in Vilnius, which in my opinion will be a life-long experience.

What are the added values of studying at VMU?

I think it’s the limitless possibilities. If you are a motivated and hard-working student, there is nowhere else where you will be rewarded as much as at VMU. Here I mean countless exchange study possibilities, internships and other vocational activities offered by the university.

Share your best experience you have gained by visiting Lithuania and VMU.

The best thing that comes to my mind while speaking of the university is undoubtedly the well organized academic sphere and student oriented staff. I would especially like to highlight the International Office of VMU, which in my opinion does enormous work focused on making the international students here as comfortable as possible.

What advice would you give to the students who are thinking about studying in Lithuania and VMU?

Do it and make the best use of the time you will spend here. There are so many possibilities and activities waiting for you here. VMU empowers you, helps you discover new things and pursue the ones you like to do. In my opinion, applying for Master’s at VMU is the best decision I have made so far.

VMU cooperation with Georgia’s HEIs

VMU cooperation with Georgia’s higher education institutions (HEIs) started in 2010. The first agreement was signed with Tbilisi State University, which is now is a long-term partner of VMU. From 2010 till now, about 20 students came from this university to study at VMU, and 15 VMU students left to accumulate knowledge in Tbilisi. In 2012 an agreement was also signed with the Caucasus University and in 2014 – with the Georgia Institute of Technology Centre for Baltic Studies.

VMU Professor of the Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy Robert van Voren is of Dutch origin and currently lives in Lithuania, teaching the students at VMU. From 2011 Robert van Voren has been the Director of the Center for Cold War Studies and professor of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia. In 2013 the professor’s scientific article about mental health care reforms in Georgia was published.

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