Abigail Poh, originally from Malaysia, is studying Psychology and Public Relations at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Once the opportunity to participate in the Study Abroad came, Abigail chose Oxford University, however, she changed her mind and came to LCC for Fall 2019. She has not regretted the decision to instead come to Lithuania, a country not everyone knows about. While at LCC, Abigail has traveled around Europe, enjoyed the diverse campus, and gained a lot of new friendships.
Abigail, how did you decide to come to LCC for your Study Abroad semester?
Initially, I was supposed to go to Oxford University. The program there is quite long and would have resulted in an extra semester at Messiah College. Messiah College also has a Study Abroad program with LCC and I really wanted to study abroad here. I had heard a lot of positive feedback from other students that had studied at LCC and they encouraged me to go. In the U.S., little is known about Lithuania. I wanted to do something different, instead of a more commercialized Western destination, so I chose LCC.
How has it been for you at LCC?
In the beginning, I was nervous because I actually missed orientation with the Study Abroad Students because of flight complications. I was scared that I would not find friends, and that it might be awkward. However, this semester has been probably the best semester of my college years so far. I have been traveling, learning a lot, the classes were fun and I liked the environment. Overall, being here in Klaipėda has been quite nice.
After your studies in the U.S. are finished, are you planning to go back to Malaysia or continue your education?
Initially, my plan was to get a Master’s degree in the U.S. However, now I am actively looking for MA programs in Europe. I think it is highly likely that I will come back to Europe, I like the lifestyle here better, and I also like the idea of a change of scenery.
What was the most surprising thing about LCC when you came here?
Diversity. I was shocked when everyone would say the countries they were from: Ukraine, Armenia or elsewhere. It feels really nice to be here with so many cultures. At Messiah College, everyone is kind of from the same place. But here, even though I am Malaysian, I feel included and everyone is always interested where I am from and what my culture is like. The diversity aspect was initially shocking because I did not expect it, but it was a positive revelation. During my time here, I have made a lot of friendships with people from different countries. We are cooking together or traveling or just going to the beach. Making these friendships has made my semester so enjoyable.
LCC is a small university, compared to Messiah College. Did you feel any difference in the number of students?
At Messiah there are 3,000 undergraduates, however, it felt the same for me here. Even though Klaipėda is a small city, there is an easily accessible public transport and things to do outside of campus. Back in the U.S., if I want to go grocery shopping I need to have a car, and some places can be a 20-minute drive. I missed the simplicity of getting up and being able to walk to the store and shop. In the U.S., having a car is expensive and can be tough to afford. Here everything is so close and I can take a bus anytime I need to get somewhere. In Klaipėda itself, there is also so much more diversity than where I study, and it reminds me of Malaysia a bit, helping me to feel comfortable here.
You mentioned you were shocked by diversity at LCC. Were there any other surprises?
I remember noticing how a majority of people are aware of climate change and are actually doing something about it. At LCC, there is the Habits Club, a student initiative, where they are working towards leading a sustainable lifestyle and trying to implement different things on campus. This was really refreshing for me since I have not experienced this back in the U.S. Even though LCC is a small university, students here are extremely proactive.
Why would you recommend people to choose LCC as their study abroad destination?
I am happy I chose LCC because it is a fun environment to study in, there are many things to do here, and it is different from more well-known European places. It is not a typical commercialized destination, but instead is a place you have heard little about, which makes it even more intriguing. It is a unique experience, especially since Lithuania has not previously been a very popular destination for study abroad programs. You come here and experience Lithuania and LCC for what it is. I came here with an open mind and no expectations, which made my experience even better. I formed my own perceptions, and it has been a good place for me. I would recommend LCC to anyone who wants to experience something unique.