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It was not an easy two weeks for Lithuanians forced to spend time inside their homes and apartments due to the quarantine. But it was not easy for international students studying in Vilnius either. As the second week of quarantine ended, Korean student Jihwang Wui from Seoul said he spent more time inside reading due to the quarantine.
Jihwang Wui
Jihwang Wui
© Organizacijos nuotr.

A second-year Psychology student at Mykolas Romeris University, Wui arrived in Vilnius from Korea in 2018. Already he has acquainted himself with life in Vilnius and learned to love Lithuanian cuisine. During his time in Vilnius, he learned how to prepare Lithuanian cabbage rolls balandėliai in the student dorm with a fellow student from Sakartvelo. Due to the virus, lectures moved online, so students continue their studies and study remotely from their dormitories.

- How are you faring during the quarantine period here in Vilnius?

- I feel that I’m reading more books than before since I’m spending more time inside nowadays. I've been reading “The Unconscious God” by Viktor Frankl and “Theories of Personality” by Feist. Also, lectures are continuing at Mykolas Romeris University online and I’ve been reading my study materials.

I sometimes feel I'm contained in a jar of sardines during this period. But I understand safety is the top priority during these days. I think Lithuania is doing a nice job controlling the disease.

- Why did you come to Vilnius? You could have studied in South Korea.

- Yes, I did attend university in Korea. I studied biology at a Korean university, but I found out that it was not for me. My parents wanted me to be a dentist, but that was not my path. After I completed the required 2-years military service in Incheon, I started surfing the Web and came across the Mykolas Romeris University Psychology programme. It was precisely what I was looking for and I applied because I really wanted to study in Europe.

- What did your parents say when you told them you were going to study in Vilnius?

- They were very scared and worried. They told me that I was going to Russia and it was not a good idea and perhaps dangerous. I had done my research and told them that Lithuania is in the European Union (EU) and is not in Russia and it isn‘t even part of Russia. I had to convince my parents that it is safe to go to Lithuania for studies.

- What are your impressions of Lithuania now that you have lived here for more than a year?

- My impressions are that many people in Lithuania look at foreigners with suspicion. Also, I can not get used to the fact that Lithuanians smile so little. At least in Asia, and where I come from – Korea, people smile a lot. But, perhaps it is due to the weather? Also, I noticed that people are more straightforward here in Vilnius and tell you what they think. Sometimes I like this straightforward attitude more than fake smiles or insincerity.

- What about the food in Lithuania?

- I like food and eating well. Koreans really enjoy eating compared to people from Northern Europe – the Baltic countries. It is one of life‘s pleasures. Sometimes I find that people in Europe don‘t care about the taste of their food. They are just using it as “fuel“ for their bodies. I have come to like the Lithuanian pink beet soup with grietinėle. I like creamy soups in general, so the pink soup is great. I also like koldūnai, which I think are delicious.

- How different is Vilnius from Seoul?

-I don‘t see so many traffic jams in Vilnius as we have in Seoul. Due to the huge population of Seoul and all the people, public transport during rush hour is filled to capacity. Everybody is so rushed that they are always in a hurry so buses are packed with passengers.

- So people are always busy and in a hurry in your country? There must be lots of stress too?

- We Koreans have to do so many things and there is so little time. It‘s in our culture. Even pupils preparing for studies at university study up to 13 (thirteen) hours per day.

- Your English is flawless and you express yourself very well. Where did you study?

- My mother speaks both English and French. She taught me English from the age of 5 and kept telling me it is very important for me to learn English well. She was my first teacher. You know, it is difficult for us, Asians, to learn a Western language like English or French. You have a completely different grammar structure and sentence structure than we are used to.

- What are your plans in the coming year?

- I plan to go to Spain in the autumn for a semester under the Erasmus programme to study at the University of Valencia. I would like to pursue Master‘s Degree studies at a European university in Germany or even France perhaps. Those are my plans for now.

DELFI EN
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