It may be easy to overlook the small country of Lithuania but there are many reasons to study in one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Lithuania offers medieval castles and towns, blue lakes, and national forests.
Geography & Demographics
Located in northern Europe, the country serves as a bridge connecting the north, south, east, and west. It’s bordered by the Baltic Sea, Latvia, Belarus, and Poland. Lithuania is home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Curonian Spit is a sand dune peninsula that has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It separates the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon. Another is the Kernavė Archaeological site which offers outstanding proof of the evolution of human settlements from the late Paleolithic Period to the Middle Ages within the Baltic Region. The list continues with the Struve Geodetic Arc.
Lithuania is home to one point in a large chain that allowed scientist to make the first accurate measurements of the size and shape of Earth. The point is marked by a large obelisk. To top it all off, the Vilnius Historic Centre, in the capital city, is one of the best preserved medieval centers in all of Europe. It offers nearly 2,000 buildings that demonstrate the architecture of eastern Europe as it developed.
Lithuania enjoys a rather mild and predictable climate that has both continental and maritime traits. Average temperatures are around 20 degrees in January, the coldest month of the year and average around the low 60s in July, the hottest month. The country receives humid air and breezes from the 60 miles of Baltic coastline.
Food & Culture
Lithuanians believe that the sign of a truly talented cook is the ability to make a good meal with minimal ingredients. The traditional cuisine of the country pays homage to this belief. Their meals are simple, satisfying, and delicious. A Lithuanian kitchen usually includes hearty ingredients like heavy rye bread, meat, dairy products, and of course plenty of potatoes. No meal is complete with at least a small appearance from the starchy and ever versatile food. Another staple is sour cream.
Perhaps the most popular dish in the country is the cepelinai, also known as a zeppelin because it is shaped like the once popular flying ship. It is a steamed potato filled to the brim with savory meat then topped with sour cream or spirgai, a creamy sauce with bits of pork in it. Another popular treat is the balandėlia, which means little dove. Minced meat, rice, and onions are all mixed together then wrapped in steamed cabbage. The satisfying package is served alongside fresh veggies and of course covered with sour cream.
Lithuania is 1,000 years old but its inhabitants are far from behind the times. Amongst many relics and medieval castles is a country with one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. Although there is much development, they still maintain their rich culture. Approximately 3,000,000 hospitable and fun-loving Lithuanians live in this Baltic country and speak the national language Lithuanian which is one of the oldest Indo-European languages.
Things to Do
Basketball is the most popular sport and the country can boast three gold medals in the sport. Lithuanians are traditionally active and the mild summers allow for a lot of time outdoors. Some popular pastimes include hiking, fishing, and canoeing. Soccer and cycling are also practiced year round.
Studying in Lithuania
As part of the European Union, Lithuania maintains the high education standards of the region. It is home to 22 universities and 23 colleges. Its system of education dates way back to the sixteenth century, Vilnius University was established in 1579. It is a system that combines excellence and variety.
Miami University’s “City, Society, and Culture in the Baltics,” a summer study abroad program, aims to explore the history, culture, and architecture of two cities. Students will delve into both Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, and St. Petersburg, Russia’s federal city.