Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) Erasmus exchange student Samuel Camilleri Brancaleone from Malta did not want to leave Vilnius where he spent the last six months.
Samuel Camilleri Brancaleone
Samuel Camilleri Brancaleone
© Asm. albumas

If he could, he would have spent another semester at the Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) Law School. But the 23-year-old student had to return to Malta to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Law at the University of Malta. Aside from Law studies, he began studying Dutch and Slovak, while in Vilnius.

He left Vilnius in early February, after visiting the Old Quarter and Gediminas Hill for the last time. People find it weird that I prefer other countries over my own. It’s part of the Maltese experience. The younger generation has a tendency to prefer other countries, he said. Brancaleone answered a few questions about his experiences during his stay in Vilnius.

- Why did you come to Vilnius?

- I am a student at the University of Malta. I wanted to spend a semester abroad. When choosing where I wanted to go on Erasmus exchange, I wanted to go somewhere that was very different from Malta. Admittedly, Vilnius was not my first choice. When given a list of places to choose from I was considering Paris, Budapest and Salzburg and even the U.S. But upon further research on Vilnius and Mykolas Romeris University, I found out that the MRU Law School has a very good reputation. I thought it would be a nice place to spend six months of my life here. I wanted to find a place that is far from Malta and quite different from Malta.

- What did you know about Vilnius and Lithuania before coming?

- I knew the basic stuff. I didn’t know that much about the Baltic states. I did some research and what I read, I liked and interested me. I looked at the photos of Vilnius and was attracted to go to Vilnius.

Snowman built by student Samuel Camilleri Brancaleone in November 2022, with other students, near the MRU Student House in Vilnius
Sniego senis
© Asm. albumas

- What did you study at MRU Vilnius?

- I studied International Law and International Institutions, while at MRU. I learned so much about EU and international law. I especially enjoyed the lectures of Prof. Danutė Jočienė, a former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which were very insightful. I also found it interesting to visit the Constitutional Court, where students went on a tour at the behest of Prof. Jočienė. She is now the Chairman of that Court. We also had an excursion to the castle town of Trakai, which I enjoyed. Studies at MRU were perfect down to the last detail. I became friends with classmates from Italy, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. We intend to stay in touch with one another.

- How does Vilnius differ from Valletta in Malta?

- Valletta is a peninsula surrounded by the ocean on 3 sides. In Valletta, the streets are narrow and they are much wider in Vilnius. Valletta is very much a pedestrian city and much smaller than Vilnius. If you walk all of Gedimino Avenue, you have walked all of Valletta. Also, the amount of trees in Vilnius is also amazing. In Malta, we don’t have trees, not even palm trees. It’s sunny all year and the weather isn’t conducive for trees. I was fascinated by the amount of trees and nature around Vilnius and within the city.

- What are some of your most memorable impressions of Vilnius?

- Vilnius will be memorable for many reasons, but most of all that is was here that I saw the first snow. After it snowed last year, I even built a snowman near the MRU Student House last year with fellow students. (see picture) One of the things that I remember the most from my stay in Vilnius was actually on my last day when I walked along the river and went up to the Gediminas Tower and looked over the city, as it snowed. It was magical.

Samuel Camilleri Brancaleone
Samuel Camilleri Brancaleone
© Asmeninio albumo nuotr.

- Anything else that left an impression on you?

- “If I had to single out a memory at MRU, I would have to say it was when I was working on an assignment in the Library and it was snowing outside. The atmosphere at that moment was wonderful and wasn’t something that I felt before. It’s quite difficult to explain, but sitting in a quiet, well-kept library, working on a subject I like, while playing my favorite songs, while it snows outside. It brought me a sense of satisfaction that I had never experienced before. Also, I had the opportunity to visit other countries - including Denmark, Estonia Finland Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands. I think I went to Tallinn four times during my stay in Vilnius.

- What do you plan to do after graduation?

- After I receive my Bachelor’s Degree in June 2023, I hope to study for my Master’s Degree in law. I may become a lawyer, and take the Bar Exam. But, I am more drawn to work in the diplomatic corps. I think that a Law degree is good preparation for such an international career.

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