Benita, you are in the final year of the bachelors’ program at IIRPS of VU. What made you choose to study here? What news interests formed during your studies? Which of the three modules have you chosen? Why?
I would like to say that studying at TSPMI had always been my dream. However, I was brought to IIRPS VU by a total coincidence, which I am now delighted with. I think that IIRPS has something for every student who comes here because the course programs have a huge variety and there are many events. During the first year, it is easy to get lost and it’s hard to see what area or interests you like best. The opportunity to study in the Global Politics module in year 3 helped me a lot. I chose this module because I enjoy analyzing foreign policy, exploring different historical events, international relations.
During your studies you were actively involved in student life, acting as a curator and later as coordinator of curators. What led to your involvement? What did it give you? Has this changed your attitude towards the university in any way?
One of the reasons was the desire to try out additional activities at the university. VU SA attracted me with their goals and activities and encouraged me to contribute to student representation at Vilnius University or to the improvement of the study process. But probably the main reason I spent most of my studies period at the VU SA was the people around the organization. Goals, visions or missions are important elements, but I think one of the most important elements of a successful organization is its members. VU SA has taught me a great deal: communicating with a wide variety of people, patience, teamwork, leadership, as well as learning more about the academic, social or political processes at the university. Probably the most important thing I realized when I was in VU SA is that students can contribute to university decisions.
In the third year, you went to South Korea. How much time did you spend there? What program allows you to travel to non-EU countries? How long did the application process take? Why did you choose South Korea?
I spent half a year in South Korea, and it was a truly amazing experience! It is very difficult to answer why I chose South Korea, but I knew for sure that I wanted to go to study in Asia. While I was very interested in Asian cultures at school, I started learning Japanese, so I was really interested in Asia for a long time. VU SA TSPMI has a tradition of inviting students who have just returned from Erasmus and other exchange programs each semester to share their experiences with those who want to leave. It was during this lecture that I was encouraged by a student who had been studying in South Korea for almost a year. South Korea is considered to have one of the best education systems in the world, which was another important aspect that encouraged me to go there. In my opinion, Korea is a good choice for someone who has never been but wants to experience Eastern culture without experiencing a culture shock: due to different historical, political events in South Korea, Western and Oriental traditions blend perfectly.
Vilnius University offers a wide variety of exchange opportunities. You can leave for study via bilateral exchange or with the ISEP program. The whole application process really doesn’t take much time. Vilnius University has developed a convenient and simple system for internal selection: all you must do is fill out a questionnaire and write a cover letter. Making the decision to go for the exchange takes up the most time.
Would you like to associate your life with South Korea or other Asian countries? Wasn’t it difficult to adapt to a different culture?
I would never rule it out. Asia is an interesting, different and yet undiscovered land for me. Exchanges allow only a little touch of the culture of that country, so I would really like to come back, if not to live, at least to travel. In my opinion, South Korea is a great choice for people traveling to Asia for the first time: people are friendly and helpful, English is spoken in most places, and it is very easy to orientate and travel around the country. Everyone who went abroad needed time to adjust – I was no exception. But the successful integration was certainly helped by the university’s mentoring program and other foreign students.
Why did you choose a Centre for Civil Education for your mandatory internship practice? What was your experience there? Why do you think this is a popular internship place for IIRPS VU students? To what kind of students would you recommend practicing there?
During my third year at IIRPS VU, I accompanied the then freshmen to the Centre for Civil Education. I was visiting the center for the first time at that time. I was fascinated by the idea of the center, the interactive exhibitions and the people who work there. At the Centre for Civil Education, every intern or volunteer finds activities: they can take guided tours, help develop an educational program, contribute to the development or improvement of communication content, assist with the administration of the center, and much more. The internship has allowed me to test myself in different areas and now I really have more experience in communication. I would recommend the Centre for Civil Education internship to anyone – the job is dynamic, constantly changing, and the teamwork there is just amazing.
You are currently working in IIRPS VU administration – what are you doing here? Why did you choose this area? How do you communicate with international students? Are there any weird situations?
I started to work as the International Officer at IIRPS VU. When I started working, I realized that working with students is very dynamic, there is very little routine work, and the work is not boring. During the new semester, many foreign students arrived. Student confusion and emerging issues are very understandable to me, as not too long ago I was standing in a foreign university exchange coordinator’s office with questions. My exchange experience really comes in handy in this job.