Holding three citizenships, taking two gap years after high school graduation and joining LCC International University for her postgraduate studies – that is all about Amy Duckworth. She has traveled throughout Europe and beyond, studied in Germany for a few months and later came to LCC with her friend with no plans to stay here long term. To her own surprise, Amy Duckworth decided to stay at LCC and be a part of a community where she feels needed.
Could you please introduce yourself?
I am Amy Duckworth and I come from an international family. My mom is half Canadian and half Swiss, my dad is American and I have all three citizenships. When someone asks me where I am from, it may be difficult to answer. I graduated from high school in 2015 and then took two gap years to travel around, mostly in Europe and some places in Northern Africa. I worked at hostels, in Bed and Breakfast, I studied in Germany for a few months, and I made lots of friends around Europe. In terms of my hobbies I like coffee, I like to hang out with friends, and I like to travel.
Was there anything in particular in the countries that you visited that made you feel different?
I would say that the most influential culture was the Dutch culture. I grew up in the U.S. and Americans are very nice, but they are worried about hurting other people’s feelings, so they never really say what they think and that was frustrating to me. When I got to the Netherlands, all the Dutch people seemed very straightforward. There were no formalities and all the communication was very direct. I appreciated when people would tell the truth, and would say how they were feeling. Or if they thought that something was wrong, they would tell me about it. It was a breath of fresh air for me, and it was nice to just be able to skip all the formalities.
How did you find out about LCC and what made you stay here for longer?
During the two gap years, I was working in Amsterdam in one of the hostels called “The Shelter” for six months. A girl that worked with me there was from Alaska, and she told me about LCC. I wanted to study in Europe and I have been looking into German universities, but to study there, you have to know the language, and my German was not good enough. My friend found LCC on the website of one of the exchange schools in Germany, she wanted to study at LCC but did not want to go alone. When we were travelling together through the Balkans and Romania, I looked at the website and it was interesting, so I sent my application without having an intention to stay in Lithuania longer than a year. I was not really sure what I wanted to study, and I am still not sure, I have changed my major three times. My friend and I applied, had our Skype interviews in the hostel in Romania, and then got accepted a week later. Last year I came to LCC and during my first semester I was not really sure if I am going to stay, because I felt the desire to keep travelling and it was hard to just stay in one place and commit to it and the people surrounding me. However, during the second semester, I made more friends, applied for leadership positions, and so I decided to stay. When I went back to Canada for the summer to work, I was very excited to come back to LCC.
I need to feel that I have a place or I am in a community where I am a part of it. I need to know that I have responsibilities, I have roles, and I am needed to a certain extent, otherwise it is very easy for me to take every opportunity that comes, even if that means leaving and going somewhere else. I am not used to staying in one place, and when you are working, when you are moving every couple months, you get to know people and you become friends with them, but you do not expect to be around these people for a really long time. Main reason why I stayed at LCC was just getting to know people, the school, the professors and seeing that this is a unique place that I am a part of.
Did you have a culture shock when you came to Lithuania?
As I said before, I have traveled a lot in Eastern Europe, so I have got a taste of it. I was in Ukraine, Bosnia, Romania, Moldova. There are things that are certainly different in Eastern Europe. For example, in little villages you cannot walk outside with you hair uncovered, you have to have your scarf wrapped around your neck. And last semester I was talking with my roommates about some of the natural remedies and they shared that some of their grandparents still make them those teas or eat particular foods when someone is sick. This is fascinating because we do not have these things in America, or in Western Europe where it is not as common to have natural remedy as it is here. I love different cultural things that people are still connected to, it is very unique.
Would you suggest LCC to your friends?
Definitely! I think this is an extremely useful multicultural experience. At LCC you find people from different countries eating dinner together. I love how people have their own languages, and we have a common language to communicate with each other. For example, in my development class freshmen are active in class, they ask questions all the time, provide examples from their countries. I think that for my friends who want to study International Business or International Relations, LCC is the perfect place to study. Here you learn to negotiate between different countries, to solve problems when it comes to people who do not speak the same language as you. When it comes to professors, they are great in helping students, and they really want students to succeed and to develop critical thinking. There is something special about LCC and how everyone treats each other here and the level of openness and respect that exists between professors and students. It is hard to explain what it is like studying with 600 students from 43 different countries and at some point you recognize that this is my home now and these are my friends. I appreciate and enjoy living together in the dorm, building a community, and learning inside and outside the classroom. We learn from each other and pick up different things from different countries as well. All of this definitely makes you more open, more multicultural and provides a better understanding of the world around you and your own self.