Meet Polina! Coming from St. Petersburg, Russia she finds Lithuania as the perfect place to study... distant enough to be exciting, not too far to feel scary. It is in LCC that Polina is learning to believe in herself, her talents, and her abilities.
For starters, what was it like growing up in Russia? How was your life before LCC?
I was always a quiet kid. My parents would try to get me into different activities like acting club, for example. I didn’t like it much. I mostly preferred to be absorbed by reading books alone in my room. Every summer, though, I would visit my grandmother in the countryside, or I would go somewhere abroad with my parents. When I finished high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. There was nothing special going on in my life, and so I just went with the flow. I first applied to the Higher School of Economics, where they also have a liberal arts model of education. I studied philology, but I also was exposed to a lot of other sciences. I dropped out because I think I wasn’t ready for studying at a university right after graduating from high school. I needed some time to think and to find myself. Later I applied to the Polytechnic University in my hometown of St. Petersburg, where I again studied linguistics. I quit from that university as well, because I felt no one – neither students nor professors – really cared about what they were doing. I felt that students weren’t interested in studies, and the university wasn’t interested in the students. I lost hope, but I spent another year self-reflecting and discovering myself. I feel like not enough students appreciate the opportunity to take a gap-year. It’s very advantageous if you spend the time seeking the truth about yourself.
How did you discover LCC?
A representative of LCC came to my high school when I was there. I ended up completely forgetting about all of it, until eventually my mom recalled it and suggested I look into LCC University. At first I still had no recollection of ever even having heard of LCC, but through some Lithuanian friends I discovered that it did exist. After the previous two attempts at higher education, Lithuania seemed like a good opportunity to go abroad and yet staying in a relatively similar culture.
You're one of the most acknowledged students at LCC with really high academic performances. What inspired you to be such an excellent student who aims at perfection?
I actually never was a straight A student before. For instance, in my high school I would get a lot of B’s. The first year at LCC wasn’t really challenging, maybe due to my previous academic experiences. So, I just thought it was a good opportunity to keep my grades up and get A’s for a change. I think that having high grades can help in my further education above the BA level. Universities can give scholarships if they see your past efforts were strong.
You also aspire to be ecologically conscious. What can you tell about The Habits Club at LCC? In what ways do you encourage other students to recycle or be sustainable?
The Habits Club is all about ecological consciousness and being sustainable. We’ve not been super active during the pandemic, because it’s impossible to get everyone together physically. Online events are possible, but everyone’s spending a lot of time on their screens already. However, The Habits Club is still alive! We worked with Joe Harder, who built a compost site near Enns. The Habits Club provided instructions on how to use it. We are also active on social media, but that’s as much as we can do currently. You can be sure we have plans for the post-pandemic future though!
Additionally, you are a part of the Student Council as the English representative. What does your work there look like? What kind of responsibilities do you carry?
I attend meetings and participate in discussions. At StuCo, it’s about sharing the responsibilities more or less equally, unless they are connected to specific positions. I personally mediate between StuCo, English majors, and the LCC academic administration. I’ve created a Facebook chat for English majors, where everyone can speak up, provide suggestions, or just ask questions. I’ve also suggested some online events aimed at English majors. I hope that we can have more freedom once online events aren’t the only thing we can do.
Your most recent contribution to the LCC community is the student literary and art journal, Calliope. As co-founder of that, what can you tell us about Calliope?
Calliope is a muse in Greek mythology. She is the first among the muses and patrons of epic poetry. Myths say that she helped Homer write Iliad and Odyssey. I hope that she will help us too. The idea for the journal came about a year ago, when Tracy Haney led a Creative Non-fiction class and thought it would be cool to have a volume where everyone could store their writing. At some point she and I thought that we might as well create a journal. This year I thought that the journal should be open for all LCC students, not just English majors. Calliope has grown to include so many types of writing, not just Creative Non-fiction. We have many different workshops with faculty, for example, J.D. Mininger or Michael Patrick.
It's time to address the elephant in the room. With such a busy schedule, how do you manage to stay inspired? Where do you go when you need your alone time?
I don’t want to lose a moment of my life. I think it has to do with the fact that I wasn’t doing anything special in the past 23 years of my life, so now I’m trying to catch up. I want to do something that makes an impact on the world and the people. I’m also introverted, and I need to spend time alone to regain my energy. I would often go to the park, the forest, the beach, listening to music and taking in all the details that surround me.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
I would like to do a Master's program somewhere else in the world. The world is too big to concentrate on just one thing. Since a Master's degree allows one to go really deep in the specific field they are studying, I’ll probably want to spend more time earning money and continuing to discover myself before I commit to further studies. I’m interested in environmental studies, myths and culture, translation and languages… I want to know for sure what I’m going to specialize in.
Finally, what kind of advice would you wish for your fellow LCC students?
I would probably say that I do encourage people to study, but not just the things that the professors provide. I do feel that if we, the students, bring something new to classes, if we do some small research or discussions, we can all learn so much more. You need to be curious. It's not just about studies, it’s the general curiosity that needs to lead us in this life. Otherwise, we can get stuck and we won’t even notice that we’re in a swamp.