The polyglot student came to Lithuania from one of Africa‘s fastest growing cities – Kinshasa, where the population totals about 17 million. Kabongo said although he had wanted to go abroad for studies. His first choice was a university in Belgium because he is fluent in French. He discusses his first experiences in Lithuania and studies at Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) in this interview.
- Why have you come from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Lithuania?
- Congo is a French-speaking country in Africa and I wanted to try to live in a country where I could study and speak with people in English. My hobby is bizarre .... I just want to know and learn about new cultures, new countries, meet people from outside of Africa. I had applied to a university in Belgium and to another in Sweden. My third choice was Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius where the Bachelor‘s Degree programme, “Global Business and Modern Marketing“ attracted my attention. I applied and was accepted. I was further encouraged to study at MRU due to the affordable tuition for students from outside of Europe. I heard that Lithuania is a quiet country and there is little, if any, racism.
- How does Vilnius differ from Kinshasa?
- The culture and the mentality is different here. In Congo people are very friendly and it’s easy to talk or questions of random people met on the street.
Here I noticed that Lithuanians are more reserved.
It’s cold here and I noticed that there’s so many elderly people here in the supermarkets and just walking around the city. In Congo there are not so many elderly people out and about in the streets and shopping centers. It’s a country with a large population of young people and youth.
Also Kinshasa is a very large city with a huge population – about 17 million. When I came, I was initially afraid that people would stare at me, or I would face discrimination. On campus at MRU Vilnius and in the dormitory, I can’t say that I ever faced discrimination. I don’t think the University is discriminatory at all. I was born in Africa and I have never faced racism there.
- Have you encountered any difficulties in Vilnius since your arrival last year?
- Well, it is difficult to apply to this University, MRU, from Africa. You need a visa. Sometimes African students have to travel to other countries to get a visa. Also it is difficult for international students to get a job here as well.
- What are some of your adventures and experiences while traveling to Lithuania?
- When I flew to Vilnius via Warsaw, I was cautioned by friends about negative attitudes in Poland regarding Africans. When I boarded the LOT Airlines plane to Vilnius I was shocked because most of the people were blond-haired and blue-eyed. But, in Vilnius, I had a positive experience. I got lost in the city. I knocked on a random door and a Vilnius resident not only gave me directions, but also a SIM card to make calls. So, from the start, my experience in Vilnius was positive.
- You are a polyglot and enjoy travel. Any plans in the future to travel to other cities for a visit?
- Yes, I want to be open to the world and visit other countries, while I am in Europe. I would like to go to Athens, Milan, Brussels, and of course, Paris – where my brother lives. I would like to visit China because I want to “discover” the culture. Also, while in Europe, I would like to study and learn Russian language. Russian can be spoken in many countries in Europe. Lithuanian is spoken only here in Lithuania.
- What are your plans after you graduate?
- I plan to return to Congo, after I graduate. I don’t want to live in Europe. I can’t feel at home in a European country. Congo needs educated people, new knowledge and new skills. I will go back to work in my country.