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Georgian students in Lithuania: we teach Lithuanians their songs

Georgian students in Lithuania: we teach Lithuanians their songs
The number of international students discovering Lithuania as their study destination is increasing every year. This year Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) is happy to host 10% more international degree students than last year. VGTU welcomes 278 new international degree students and 42% of them on master’s level. Currently, there are 966 international students studying at VGTU: 648 bachelor and master degree students, 303 came under various exchange programmes and 15 PhD students. The students come from 81 countries – from Japan to the US or Chile. The biggest surprise among them are students who have learnt Lithuanian prior to coming here, such as georgians Nino Tabatadze, Nino Inasaridze, Mariam Čchivimiani and Merab Šabešovi who started their master studies at VGTU this year. They say, that they chose Lithuania for high quality of studies, especially in engineering. International students make 14% of all master students at VGTU. Conversation with the young Georgians fascinates us with sincerity and their neat Lithuanian language which they decided to learn before coming to study here.
How did you choose to study in Lithuania?
Nino: We graduated from the Georgian Technical University, where we finished our bachelor studies. The university has the Centre for Lithuanian Language and Culture. All of us have chosen to study Lithuanian there – that was the first incentive to consider master studies in Lithuania. We have visited Lithuania before on various study visits, participated in summer courses here. Nino and I had an intensive 4-month language course this spring, and, finally, it lead us to master studies at VGTU.
Mariam: I have started falling in love with Lithuania during my Lithuanian language and culture courses. I am visiting Lithuania for the fifth time, and this time for two years. 
Nino: we opted for a big challenge – we will study in Lithuanian.  We have been learning the language for 1.5 – 2 years, which is not a long period of time. We see that there are quite a lot of Georgians coming to study to Lithuania. 
The most popular master studies at VGTU are in Information and Information Technology Security, Mechatronic Systems, Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and International Business. Which study programme have you chosen? 
Merab: I have chosen Information and Information Technology Security Master’s programme. I like it so far and it’s a pleasure to be here.
Nino: Nino and I are studying at the Faculty of Environmental Engineering. We know that VGTU is the best university of technology in Lithuania and it is very important for us. We have studied Economics in Tbilisi, so we have chosen similar studies here as well. We hope it will be an interesting programme and we will gain a lot of useful knowledge.
Mariam: I have chosen to continue my studies in a similar field as I did on bachelor level back home. My master’s programme is in Water Engineering.
Do you have any connections to Lithuania?
Nino: no, we do not have any previous connections to Lithuania. Of course we knew about the country and that its capital is Vilnius. But we all joke that our second father is Lithuanian – Vidas Kavaliauskas, the Head of the Centre for Lithuanian Language and Culture in Georgia. He is like a bridge between the two countries and he is always there to help us.
It is just the beginning of your studies here, but maybe you can share some of your first impressions about the university?
Nino: our studies have not started yet, but we have attended the September 1st celebration at the University – a very nice event. We also like our coordinator at the university a lot. She seems to be very warm and caring person, we can contact her if we need any help.
What are your expectations of your studies in Lithuania?
Mariam: We are very happy to be in Lithuania and to study here. First of all, we expect higher quality of studies. We heard from friends that there are a lot of good professors here and you can always approach them if you have questions. Every professor has their contact hours – it is very important for students. The system in Georgia is a bit different. Higher education in our country is also good, but in Lithuania it is better and of higher quality.
Was it hard to learn Lithuanian language?
Mariam: the grammar is hard, but we learn the language in an unconventional way. We study not only the language, but also the culture: songs, dances, performances. Learning the language this way is much easier.
Merab: we know about 20 songs in Lithuanian. The locals often joke that they are learning the Lithuanian songs from us.
Nino: we can sing the Lithuanian anthem, but also songs like “Trys milijonai” or “Mūsų dienos kaip šventė”. The Lithuanian centre in Georgia is always organising the celebration of Lithuanian national holidays and important festivities.
You have visited Lithuania for several times already. Do you like Lithuania?
Mariam: we will spend here next two years, but already now we feel like Lithuania is our second home.
Nino: the people are very friendly here and it seems that they like Georgians a lot. We have a lot of friends from Lithuania, and we have made a lot of new ones at the university. Of course, weather a bit colder, but it’s not a problem.
Do you think our countries have some similarities?
Nino: yes, people are quite similar. Both Lithuanians and Georgians are very friendly and warm-hearted. But the nature is different. There are mountains in Georgia. On the other hand, there are a lot of lakes, rivers and forests in both countries.
Merab: of course we should mention that we have some history in common.
Have you tasted some Lithuanian food already? Maybe you like something in particular?
Mariam: I just love fried bread with cheese!
Nino: I like everything: zeppelins, cold beetroot soup, Samogitian pancakes. I think everybody likes zeppelins, like everybody likes our Khinkali. 
Merab: I like Lithuanian soups and beer.
Nino: and I like potato pancakes with meat. 
Would you like to stay in Lithuania after your studies?
Nino: you never know where life will take you. I would like to stay here.
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