Studies in Klaipėda inspired a love for the city

Over 1,300 students from 75 countries call Klaipėda home. Read about their journey, the role of International House Klaipėda in their lives, and why they find this Lithuanian city the perfect place for their studies.
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More than 1 300 students from 75 foreign countries study in Klaipėda.  Most of the foreign students choose different bachelor's, master's and doctoral study programmes at LCC International University, Klaipėda University and Klaipėda State College.

After completing an internship or gaining a successful job during their studies, young people often want to link their future with Klaipėda.

What attracts foreign students to Klaipėda, what challenges they face upon arrival and what helps them to overcome adaptation difficulties were shared by two foreign students who chose to study at Klaipėda University.

Invited to Klaipėda by a friend

Born and raised near Venice, 27-year-old Italian Paolo Salvador had been involved in football from a young age, but it was his love of nature that drove his choice of study.

After graduating with a Master's degree in Nature in Italy, a year ago he spontaneously chose to study for a PhD in Ecology and Environmental Studies at the Institute of Marine Research of Klaipėda University.

"It's really my friend's fault," he smiles, "I met her at an ornithological conference in Italy. She was already studying in Klaipėda and told me that there was a possibility to get a PhD at Klaipėda University.

I decided to apply and my application was accepted. I didn't think too much and my life changed in one week," said Paolo.

Language and cold are the biggest challenges

The biggest challenge for the Italian when he arrived in Klaipėda was the new language. "I had to learn both English and Lithuanian at the same time. Another challenge was the weather - the snow and the lack of sunshine", he recalled.

Like many other foreigners, Mr Salvador turned to International House Klaipėda for help with the bureaucratic formalities of changing his country.

"This institution not only helped me get a temporary residence permit in Lithuania, but also offered me wonderful opportunities to explore the city. I particularly enjoyed the orientation game "Decode Klaipėda" organised by International House Klaipėda," he said.

International House Klaipėda, which has been operating in Klaipėda for a year now, provides comprehensive services to foreigners and organises various activities that give foreign professionals and students living in Klaipėda the opportunity to get to know the city and to become part of a wider community of foreigners.

" The Centre hosts information seminars on a range of topical issues, which we organise together with our partners. We also organise events and attractive, practical tours of Klaipėda, during which foreigners get to know our culture, traditions, and economy better", - said Viktorija Paldauskė, Director of International House Klaipėda.

Appreciates the nature of Klaipėda

Klaipėda seems to Paolo Salvador to be a small but very beautiful seaside city.

"I love the fact that I can get on a bus and be on the beach in 5 minutes. Klaipėda has beautiful sights in the Old Town, as well as beautiful nature. I love the city's parks, the small ponds, the forest paths for walking and cycling.

The only drawback is that the port city is far from Kaunas and Vilnius, and transport links are not good.

Well, the people seemed a bit cold at first, but I realised that this is normal and that Lithuanians are actually very polite and kind people", Paolo shared his impressions.

The Klaipėda University PhD student hopes that ornithology will become his stable profession.

"I dream of working in Loro Park in Tenerife, visiting Australia and if there is a good opportunity to stay in Klaipėda, why not", the Italian reflected on his future prospects.

A pandemic has blocked the road to Europe

India is one of the top five countries whose residents most often go to the International House Klaipėda centre.

Fatima Uz Zama came from India to study in Klaipėda in December 2021.

"I was going to study a Bachelor's degree in Management in Poland, where my two brothers and sister were already studying and working, but due to the pandemic in 2020, it was almost impossible to get visas for many European countries, including Poland.

After losing a year, I found out about Lithuania through an agency," Fatima tells her story.

Transformative year 

Fatima admitted that she had never heard of Lithuania before.

"I was interested in the fact that education is affordable, the education is good, it is safe to live in, the country belongs to the European Union and is a member of Schengen, and most importantly, it is open to foreign students.

I was also attracted by the relatively straightforward admission process to Klaipėda University, so I chose this particular higher education institution. Today, I can say that the last two years in Klaipėda have been the happiest for me", said Fatima.

After the challenges of the pandemic, she found it difficult to learn Lithuanian when she arrived in Lithuania.

"The basics of the language were necessary because Klaipėda, unlike Vilnius, has fewer English-speaking people.

Winter was another difficult thing to get used to, because in Mumbai the lowest temperature drops to 18 degrees Celsius and I arrived in December and it was really cold," Fatima recalled of the beginning of her life in the port city.

Exploited at work

After starting her studies in Klaipėda, Fatima got a job.

"Actually, it was only when I arrived at International House Klaipėda that I learned about my rights and many other aspects of employment. Many of us foreign students who don't know this are exploited," she said.

Fatima said that the individual advice provided by International House Klaipėda on tax, insurance, job search and benefits was particularly valuable.

"There are always people in this office who can help and explain important things without any bureaucracy or language barriers," said Fatima.

Would like to stay in Klaipėda

Fatima said that her main goal now is to successfully complete her bachelor's studies at Klaipėda University so that she can continue her studies in a master's degree programme and work in the field of technology.

"Klaipėda feels like home and it is my favourite city in Lithuania. I would like to stay here. Of course, the future is never predictable", Fatima said.

International House Klaipėda during it's first year of operations has served more than 2,300 foreigners from 35 countries.