One beautiful Saturday morning (with a cool, foggy and windy Lithuanian weather – typical for this season) a group of first-year students arrived at the Faculty of Medicine at Vilnius University. All of them were happy, because it was the first united meeting of Lithuanian and international freshmen and their older colleagues. “Are you going to Trakai?“ was the key question of everyone as they boarded a comfortable bus in the courtyard next to the Faculty door. There was no doubt: not only was this day a beginning of a wonderful life experience in this charming Baltic country, but also a great start of friendship and integration into one of the oldest and well-known universities of Europe. A lot of thanks to the second-year student of Medicine Damian Luka Mialkowsky from Germany, who sincerely took care of the freshmen and shared his impressions of this meeting with us.
The first talks between freshmen started already on their way to Trakai – a spectacular historic city and lake resort in Lithuania. “What are you doing in Vilnius?“ students asked each other. “I am on my first year in medicine,“ were the answers. “How nice! Me too.” Then they started discussing their favorite sports, free time activities and hobbies. “It was a warm beginning of making friends and colleagues. After leaving the bus all participants met in a circle. Everyone got the task to introduce him- or herself and to mention at least one thing that he or she likes. All students liked food. But not everyone enjoyed preparing it,“ Damian said.
The group had a great possibility to walk through the center of Trakai that is full of ancient memories and to visit the source of life of every student: a coffeehouse. After short break local and international students from different countries from all over the world explored the castle museum on the island with impressive exhibitions and tried to discover ties between their home cultures and origins and the history of Lithuania.
During the lunch in a nice place next to the Galve lake with a spectacular view of the castle everyone got an introduction to the traditional Lithuanian cuisine. “During lunch we discussed our experiences, thoughts and expectations for the studies. Since not only first-year students from all divisions accompanied the group this presented a unique opportunity for knowledge exchange. Advice on what to do in Vilnius or how to deal with the work load of Human Anatomy was shared,” the second-year student from Germany explained and added that this day ended with a beautiful walk along the lake shore towards the bus which was waiting to take them back to Vilnius. This gave yet another chance to perceive the variety and uniqueness of Lithuanian nature.
Summarizing this important event, Damian Luka Mialkowsky revealed a dream not only of his own, but also of all other students of Vilnius University: “In the future let us connect all members of the Faculty to organize interesting events and create more possibilities of exchange between Lithuanian and International divisions! Our studies and our lives are taking place at the same time. Don't separate them. Integrate them!”
All participants of this interesting and important event expressed their gratitude to the Faculty of Medicine for supporting this great meeting. Special thanks were given to the Students’ Representation of Vilnius University, especially Rani Dey and all mentors for the coordination and communication with the students of all years. This event would not have been possible without the invaluable help of Frederica Schmidt and Jakob Lindemann from the Faculty of Medicine, who accompanied the group and represented the Faculty's mentors to the freshman students.