Vilnius, Lithuania: A great chance for Designers! (by Cora)

Làbadienà, Hello everyone,

After a few weeks of relaxing semester holidays back home, here comes my final conclusion of my semester abroad in Lithuanias capital Vilnius. All in all, I really enjoyed my semester at the Vilnius College of Design and I can definitely recommend it to anyone, who thinks about going there, especially to all design students! ;)

First of all, the fact, that this college only teaches design in different fields, gives you the chance to mainly improve your design skills in any way. The focus lies on practice in various projects and not on theory. Of cause it is not avoidable but the theory you learn, is in fact very interesting for us designers. Most of the teachers did their job quite well and I learned so much in my half year there, especially the programs „Adobe Illustrator“, „Adobe Premiere Pro“ and „Adobe After Effects“ where in focus of the lessons. This was great because these programs were also the ones, I did not work with so much during my semesters in Germany so far. So now I can safely handle all the main Adobe Programms, a designer should be able to use. :)

In my last post, I already reported about the different projects we had at the college, which also prove the wide range of covered design fields we had: Typographic design, Video Production, Animation, Interaction and Interface design and Web design. For a detailed description of the projects, check out my last entry.

Of cause all the projects took a lot of time and effort, so they could become successful but in the end, everyone of us was very proud about the final results. The work load in general is, in my impression, a bit higher than at the Macromedia. Especially the midterm reviews in the middle of October, give you that feeling. There you have to present your so-far-progress in every practice subject and the grade you get makes about 30% of your final grade. The tasks are challenging and not to underestimate but we enjoyed the projects and in the end, everything was doable for us.

It was the first time ever, that Macromedia students could go to Lithuania for a semester abroad, so we were only four students. As a result, we were taught together with the Erasmus students, who came from all over Europe to study at the Vilnius College of Design. This was really cool because we made a lot of international friends and became a mixed group of 20 People from seven different nations. Together we had a lot of fun on daily trips in- and outside of the city and of cause in Vilnius‘ active nightlife. Sadly, the contact to the local Lithuanian students only came at the end of the semester, because they were very shy and not open to talk to us, but actually they were very nice, you just have to give them a chance to prove it. ;)

Another point, why I can recommend to choose Lithuania as your country for the semester abroad is, that it definitely lies in an undiscovered but interesting region of Europe and this is the perfect chance for you to get to know it better. I also did not know anything about these countries before and probably would have never visited them, if it wouldn’t have been for the semester abroad. But it was definitely worth it, the nature of all three baltic states is very beautiful with its endless forests, green meadows and of cause with the coastline of the Baltic Sea. Also, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania offer a lot of beautiful citys with old towns in different ancient styles of architecture and old, impressive stone castles.

As the baltic states are so far not a very popular region for traveling or holidays, the tourism is not strong, except in the capitals, where you can find a few tourists in summer. I really enjoyed the non-touristic atmosphere, especially during my trip around all the baltic states, where you could simply enjoy the nature or landmarks without a hundred people standing next to you. By the way, if you choose to come here, I can definitely recommend to do a short trip through the baltic states in summer before the semester starts. I traveled for 1 1/2 weeks through all three countries and really enjoyed the time. If you want recommendations for places to visit or more information about the trip, contact me or read my German report on my personal Travel Blog. There, you can also find other reports about my time in Lithuania and a lot of funny facts. :D

Vilnius is a very interesting, artistic city with a beautiful old town, numerous forests and parks all over the city. It is probably the greenest capital all over Europe. So beautiful it is in its inner core, the more ugly it becomes, the farer you come to the outer areas of the city because there, you find the old prefabricated buildings from the times, when Lithuania was a member of the Soviet Union. Definitely an important part of the cities history but not a recommendable neighborhood to live in. Another leftover of the soviet time is the skeptical attitude of the locals towards foreigners, which lets them appear as unfriendly and racist people but I am confident, that this will change with the upcoming generations and that the western tolerant spirit, which now is standard in Germany, will soon arrive there too. They are just a small step behind the rest of Western Europe in almost every aspect.

Another thing, you should be prepared for, is the bad weather in Vilnius. Not only, that it becomes darker in Winter, it also rains a lot during the whole year and in combination with the cold temperatures and the strong winds, it can feel quite uncomfortable. The best preparation is given with an umbrella and warm and waterproof clothing and shoes. If you are in the need of a lot of sunlight to be happy, you should take Vitamin-D pills with you, to avoid tiredness and sadness because of cloudy weather. All this should be no obstacle for your semester abroad In Lithuania, all the problems are handleable and the positive things definitely overweight. ;)

So lets come back to some positive facts about Vilnius. One good thing probably is, that the living costs are lower in any case, except cosmetics and also the public transportations only cost 6€ per month, if you have the ISIC Card (you can get this card after your arrival in Vilnius). Supermarkets are located on every corner of the streets, so you never have to walk longer than 5 minutes to the next one and there are a lot of giant shopping centers in Vilnius, including an ice track, a cinema, a casino and a bowling center. Also, Vilnius offers an active nightlife with numerous clubs and bars and a wide range of fabulous restaurants. Honestly, I have never eaten bad food in Vilnius, only the Lithuanian kitchen might be something you have to get used to, but it is actually not extremly different from our German food.

Reflecting now, I can say that I really enjoyed my semester at the Vilnius College of Design and that I definitely can recommend it to everyone, who thinks about going there. It’s a great chance to discover a new part of Europe and to improve your design skills.

For more Information and Tipps about Vilnius and the preparations in advance, visit our Website Vilnius-survival-guide for Students which was especially created for you. If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact me and I hope, that I could excite some of you, to spend your semester abroad in Vilnius as well. I mean, everyone wants to go to Canada, Australia or Thailand… why not try something different this time? ;)

Iki! Goodbye!

Cora :)