Since 9 th grade I knew I wanted to study abroad because the boarders of Lithuania seemed too small for me. The main choices that Lithuanian study abroad agencies offered were the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Denmark.
I had a stereotype that Danish people were cold and unwelcoming, UK was a safe choice since most of the emigrants from Lithuania go to UK so I already wouldve had friends there. The Netherlands was my choice because people here speak English easily, they are very friendly, tolerant and welcoming.
As most of the people in high school, I didnt know what I wanted to study and do in my life, but travelling, business in tourism and hospitality industry seemed something that would suit me.
I attended one of the study fairs in Lithuania where Saxion was represented and I had a chat with them.
A Lithuanian student from Saxion completely bought me with her amazing stories of the university and I knew that this is a place where I want to study. She also offered me to attend the Open Days which I actually did and that was the moment where I fully fell in love with Saxion. Everything from the buildings, to teachers, to canteen looked amazing and I could already imagine myself studying here half year later.
The fact that I went to the Open Days made my first days and months of studying here way easier because I already knew the city and the university, I knew the structure of the building and the studies, I even knew some teachers and students. Actually, the student that I met during the open days helped me find a room before I came to the Netherlands.
The first weeks of course were challenging. Like most Lithuanians, I was afraid that my English wasnt good enough. However, now that I look back and I compare it with my friends that went to study to UK, it was way easier for me. English isnt the native language of neither of us here so nobody has any expectations or will judge the level of English since were all at the same position.
Moreover, university has many activities for newcomers to get familiar and make new friends since the first day you come. Of course getting used to being all alone, becoming independent, getting used to the studies and the pressure it brings was hard at times. However, the thing that made my adjustment easier was the fact that teachers were extremely friendly, helpful and welcoming.
Now, 3 years later when I look back at the beginning and the challenges it brought, I feel very proud of myself for going on this journey and stepping out of my comfort zone. I compare my experiences with the tourism students studying in Lithuania and it is so visible how much more I get, how much more I learn and how much more potential I have for my future career. For example, already in the first quarter of our studies we organized and went for a study trip to Paris, then at the end of the year we went to Venice and other cities in Europe. This is my favourite thing about this university and this programme how much real life experience we get.
The highlight of my studies must be my internship in Hong Kong, where I worked in a huge airport hotel for 6 months. And the highlight of my overall experience in the Netherlands is my new international friends that I made. Now I have friends from all around the world, my closest circle consists of Chinese, Moldavian, Dutch, German, Egyptian, etc.
I wish I could go back in time to when I was sad and stressed about leaving my home and could tell myself everything will be okay, girl, you will be happier than ever, you will have no regrets so go on this journey of your life with your head up high and a smile in your face.
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