LCC International University > News and Events archive > Anika Benthem: Voluntarily Bursting the Bubble of My American Paradigm
My name is Anika Benthem, and I am a study abroad student from the U.S. Since my family made several significant moves during my childhood, I have called a variety of places home... However, my roots are probably deepest in Michigan, where I was born and where most of my extended family lives.
When I was six years old, my family of five moved to Klaipėda. My parents had a passion for Eastern Europe, having previously done mission work in Romania, so they were excited to come to Lithuania when my dad was offered a position at LCC. I remember playing by the LCC pond and watching the swans as a kid. I also had LCC students as my babysitters and Sunday school teachers who were positive figures in my childhood.
Returning to Klaipėda on my own as a college student after living here as a child is an interesting experience. In some ways, it is familiar and nostalgic. I like hearing the language and finding familiarity in it. However, this is not a repeat of my prior experience. I am exploring and appreciating the culture with new eyes.
My initial impression of LCC is the realization that it is a unique place. I brought with me my parents’ high opinion of LCC and its mission, but I did not yet feel that it belonged to me. As I am integrating into the university, I am honored to be a part of it and anticipate that I will return to the U.S. having formed a lifelong connection to LCC. I am compelled by the community LCC is cultivating, motivated by a desire to share Christ’s love with the world. I struggle to think of another place where people from such a variety of cultures converge peacefully, uniting in the pursuit of education and engaging in ordinary life together. People from all over—Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Korea, Ukraine, Afghanistan, India, the U.S.—share a classroom, a kitchen, a bunk bed, a board game, a laundry machine, a gym. I admire that LCC fosters a holistic approach to connecting cultures.
I originally chose to study abroad at LCC for two main reasons. The first is to enrich and take ownership of my connection to Lithuania. I wanted to reconnect with old friends and deepen an appreciation and fondness for Lithuanian culture—by my own choice, not by default of my family living here. The second reason I decided to spend a semester at LCC is to mature in my Christian faith and character. This is an opportunity to become more independent, compassionate, adventurous, well-rounded, adaptable, and curious. I am voluntarily bursting the bubble of my American paradigm to challenge my way of thinking. I hope to experience both the vibrant diversity and deep unity of people. I want to see more of how God is at work in the world and to join in that work. LCC is a great place to do this because it is a Christian university with many non-Christian students, both providing spiritual nourishment and offering opportunities to listen and converse with those who do not share in my faith.
On the academic side, I am pleased with my LCC classes. I am happy to be in smaller classes where I can get to know professors and classmates more personally and engage in discussion. I am especially excited about my Creation in the Bible class taught by Michael Cox. The way Christians relate to creation has been an interest of mine for years, but I have never had the opportunity to take a class specifically about the topic before this. I see this class showing me more of who God is and how I can be part of his plan of redemption.
Currently, I study biology at Oklahoma State University, and my experience of the relationship between my major and faith is unique at LCC. The relationship between Christian faith and science needs to be repaired. Science and faith are not antithetical to one another. Christians should be the foremost proponents of science as it is the study of God’s masterful creation. I think the Christian voice is now especially important within biology because it is the field of science that is developing most significantly this century, raising new ethical issues along the way. Apart from this practical argument for Christians investing in biology, I enjoy biology because it shows me God’s incredible generosity with life. He did not create an empty, dead, static world. Rather, he filled it with an abundance of life! It is a privilege to learn about the creatures that God breathed into life. I intend to continue my education into graduate school and hope to teach at a Christian university.
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