Meet Vanja Petrović! She comes from the Balkan country of Serbia. This Psychology major is happy that at LCC she can study for her future while simultaneously growing as a basketball player on the female Moose team.
What impressions do you get when you look back at your pre-university life? What hobbies and interests did you have when you were growing up?
I have always been active, even as a kid. For example, when I was small I attended an art school and an animation club. There we made a short animated movie, and it was backed by one of the major financial banks in Serbia, as they enjoyed it so much. Later in my life, I didn’t have time for hobbies besides basketball. I moved to the capital city, where I was playing for the best basketball club in Serbia. So, playing sports and studying were the two most important activities when I was growing up. In general, my life was active and busy, but also mostly care-free.
Not many LCC students come from Serbia. What can you tell about the environment you grew up in?
Actually, there are 5 of us Serbians here. I think I can say we’re all happy and satisfied here. Naturally, when we speak with friends and family back home, the name of LCC is brought up often. So, right now it’s true that there aren’t too many Serbians here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that soon changed. When it comes to the culture, I think Serbians and Lithuanians aren’t that different from each other. For example, basketball is a big thing here, just like it is in Serbia. I used to think that since Lithuania was part of the European Union there would be a bigger difference between the two countries. I have found that the Lithuanian people are modest people, in a good way. I think the environment I grew up in isn’t actually that different.
What was it about LCC that caught your eye and made you want to study here?
When I graduated from high school, I was looking for a university where I could both study and play basketball, similar to the American system. I saw that LCC follows that system, and it was even cheaper and I wouldn’t need to leave Europe in order to study! Lithuania is a country I didn’t know much about, so I also saw an opportunity to learn more about the country. Even more, here I could study the major I was interested in, so LCC ticked all the right boxes for me.
You are a freshman. What major have you chosen and why?
I am majoring in Psychology. I first became interested in this science during the last year of high school when I had an Introduction to Psychology class. I enjoyed it and I started reading articles about the field. I believe that it is crucial to understand the people around you and to find better ways to communicate with them. It’s also important to understand people's conscious and unconscious reactions as well as actions. Eventually, I hope that I can use psychology and relate it to basketball. With knowledge of psychology, I can learn how to motivate myself and my teammates, or how to cope with depression. They even have professional psychologists in the top basketball leagues, like the NBA. Players have bad days, and after lost games, it can be easy to be mentally down and dejected. Psychology plays a huge role in sports behind the scenes.
How has the pandemic affected your enjoyment of university life - keeping in mind, we have been remote for nearly 5 months?
I am so happy that I had a little taste of normal university life at the beginning of the Fall semester. Sure, there were restrictions, but you could still have normal interactions with students and professors. There’s a huge difference between meeting people face-to-face and seeing them through the screen, right? I hope these crazy times will soon come to an end, and we can enjoy the best years of our lives, without staying in our rooms and staring at our screens. As for most, it's hard for me to find motivation. I try to remind myself that I’m investing in my future. There’s little we can do besides remaining patient and trying to make the best out of what we have.
You can also play in the newly-formed female basketball team. What does the sport mean to you?
Basketball is my biggest passion. When I’m holding the ball I can let go of all my worries and negative energy. I’ve been playing for almost 12 years. I can’t imagine a day without practicing or being without basketball. The sport also has taught me how to withstand pressure and stress, and how to work with other people.
It seems that the team has had a rocky start. How do you think the team can spring into victories?
I actually feel good about the season and I am happy to be part of the team. I believe that new things need time to develop properly. I think that the LCC female basketball team is just starting to develop into greatness. This was our first season ever, and the beginning is always more challenging. The season was definitely rocky. We’re a young team, while some of our opponents were older and far more experienced. Our team was also challenged by constant team changes, with players leaving or joining mid-season. Some players sustained injuries and couldn’t help through the season. There was even a time when all of us had to isolate and we couldn’t practice for nearly a month. Still, every game was a valuable lesson for us and we ended up with more experience than we started off with. Our coach Vilius helped so much. He knows how to work with us, he understands us. He relentlessly pushed us when we lost hope after a bad game. He is sure that the team can go far if we believe in ourselves and work hard.
It is a long way off, but what vision do you have for your life in the future, maybe when you graduate?
I don’t really think in this way. I recognize that unforeseen things can happen and you never know what turns your life may take. I do hope that I will play basketball professionally, but a sudden injury can take that away quickly. So, I want to invest in my education too. I mentioned psychologists working with basketball teams, and I could see myself joining my study in psychology together with basketball in one way or another. In time we will see how a dream like that may go.