There is a famous Lithuanian proverb: “Prepare your sled in the summer and prepare your cart in the winter.“ While it is not exactly applicable this season and many sleds have spent a sad winter in our little sheds and garages, the message of this wonderful saying remains as relevant as ever: the smartest ones plan their time in advance.
The sunny season is also closer than one would think, so Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) invites everyone to start working on their summer plans. Quite conveniently, registration to VMU’s Baltic Summer University (BSU) course started on February 1. Offering a variety of courses since 2017, this year BSU will invite its future students to take advantage of 7 special courses and use them to awaken the superpowers we all have within.
Probably the most impressive superpower for a foreign student to gain is learning Lithuanian. Everyone who has tried it can tell you that’s quite a feat. Those up for the challenge will be able to do it in the Lithuanian Language and Culture Summer Course, which has been organized for over 20 years.
“Every language is not just words and sentences. There are various very interesting and usually even untranslatable cultural and semantic nuances behind them, so when people are learning languages, they not only develop the linguistic competences, but expand their worldview as well,” Ms. Greta Garnytė, coordinator of the course and International Relations coordinator at the Faculty of Humanities, said.
It is probably not an understatement to say that nowadays the ability to tell stories through audio-visual means is an incredibly valuable talent. Therefore, this year students are offered to join the Summer School for Beginning Filmmakers, a two-week course during which the future filmmakers and storytellers will work with the experts of their fields.￼
When exploring the amazing diversity of nature and analysing the secrets hidden in the molecules, the students of Investigation of Biodiversity and Methods in Molecular Genetics will not wear white capes. Oh no, they will wear white lab coats, and labs are usually the places where life-saving discoveries are made and humanity’s secrets are revealed, so it is no wonder that the number of students who seek these superpowers has been growing almost exponentially every year.
This year, BSU also offers two internship programmes. The first one is its long-running hit, the Summer Internship Programme, which allows the students to gain practical skills in their professional field. This year, it is offered with a twist: an intensive module, during which career specialists will present some valuable information about career-building skills and how to present oneself properly in the public, in the virtual world, and anywhere you can be spotted by your potential employers.
Sustainability and Innovation in Rural Development is an intensive two-week internship programme during which students will learn about the subtleties of the development of rural areas, analyse the trends of sustainable changes, and become acquainted with innovative social businesses and farms that implement breakthrough innovations. The programme balances theoretical knowledge with practical experience and real-life operating examples of rural innovators.
Last but not least, Nuclear Tourism in Post-Soviet Sites tackles another important topic, namely, atomic energy, as well as the implications and consequences of its use. This topic owes some of its regained visibility to a very popular HBO TV series Chernobyl (which was, interestingly enough, filmed in Kaunas and Lithuania), which is based on Voices from Chernobyl, a staggering book by a Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich. This programme discusses the unique situation of Ignalina Power Plant and its mostly Russian-speaking staff who live in the city of Visaginas. This summer course will analyse the resurgence of Visaginas through culture, the identity of its citizens, and the city’s future when Ignalina Power Plant, the main employer of most Visaginas residents, is shut down for good.
However, great programmes are not the only thing which motivates students to join BSU: during the courses, they will have an opportunity to get to know our country, Kaunas, Lithuanian culture and actual Lithuanians who live here.
“We’ve always envisioned BSU not as some formal summer courses with standardised excursions. Well, of course, we do bring our students to Vilnius and Trakai, but we also organise trips where our students see some Lithuanian nature and family days during which Lithuanian families welcome our students, spend a day together and learn about each other. We also took a group of students to a children’s summer camp to introduce their cultures and countries. We were met with the kind of overwhelming open-heartedness and enthusiasm that only children possess.” Ms. Agnė Poderytė, Chief Coordinator of Baltic Summer University, said, pointing out the added value of the courses. She also added that these courses educate their organisers too.
“We never cease to marvel at the students who come here. They embark on such an adventure and trust us with their hard-earned summertime. So, we feel responsible not to let them down. And every year, we discover Kaunas and Lithuania together with them, as they notice the wonderful things that we no longer see. This is where the friendships are born, and at the end of the courses we usually witness tearful good-byes and vows to meet again. Moments like these reassure us that the year-long work of the entire team is really meaningful.”
Student accounts seem to confirm that this is the case. Ms. Rima Beridze, a Georgian student who has won a scholarship to study Lithuanian at BSU, tells about her experience: “It was a great opportunity to go from Georgia to one of the most beautiful countries, Lithuania, to study its language and culture. I simply adored being a student at VMU in Kaunas. The city itself was also impressive – it is truly a hidden gem of Europe. The student life was buzzing with dozens of international students from all around the world. The professors and the staff were very approachable. I think BSU is a perfect chance for students to experience sparkling cultural diversity, enjoy the peacefulness of everyday life, meet many kind and motivating people, enjoy the inspiring academic atmosphere, taste the food not only from Lithuania, but also from around the world. After learning in detail about Lithuanian culture and language I can call this country my second home.”
VMU students also have a chance to take advantage of this international experience at their very own university, and it is offered to them for half the price.
Registration to Baltic Summer University started on 1 February 2020 and will be open until 1 June 2020. The courses start on 13 July 2020. All information can be found on BSU website bsu.vdu.lt, BSU Facebook page Baltic Summer University and by email firstname.lastname@example.org.