An interview with the 23-year-old student, possibly the only Mauritian in Lithuania, had to be postponed while she prepared to celebrate baking a wide array of sweets for friends. She agreed to answer a few questions about life in Vilnius and express her shock at the use of so much plastic in Vilnius.
- Why did you come to Vilnius?
- I came because of my studies in the joint international Social Work Master’s Degree programme at Mykolas Romeris University. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Mauritius. I wanted to study abroad in an international programme. After I won an Erasmus+ scholarship, I came to Vilnius for studies.
- What did you know about Lithuania before coming?
- I didn’t know anything. Google helped me find out more. I noticed that Lithuania had many good reviews. I didn’t realize, though, that it would be so cold here. The cold weather is truly shocking. Now it’s sunny and about 27C in Mauritius.
- So, it is your first winter far from home?
- Yes, I never spent time in a country with a cold winter season. I never even saw snow. So this will be my first real winter and so far away from home and my family and friends. I am lucky that my parents, especially my father supports me in my desire to study abroad.
- You’ve traveled previously to Europe?
- Yes, I spent 3 months in Athens, Greece in 2019 on an Erasmus scholarship. I loved it! That is why I wanted to come back to Europe. In Greece, it was the first time that I was alone and had to be totally independent and make choices myself. As a country, we are isolated, so the Erasmus programme was like a miracle and it has opened so many doors for me.
- What differences did you notice between Lithuania and Mauritius, besides the weather?
- Everyone knows each other in Mauritius and extends a hand to help. You are never on your own. Here, I must be independent, as I said before. This is a very good time for me to grow and to find out my potential. It’s an adventure for me. We are also a very open country. If tourists come to Mauritius, we try to adjust to them. We want to know other cultures and learn about others. We are a very open and multicultural country.
The other big difference, I noticed in Vilnius, is your use of plastic bags. Plastic bottles, bags and spoons are all banned in Mauritius. The ban on plastic bags went into effect about 10 years ago.
Last year plastic spoons were banned. We now use bamboo spoons, but the bamboo affects the taste of your food, so it’s not ideal. I got into the habit here again of using plastic. If my fellow Mauritians found out how much plastic I use here in Vilnius, they would be shocked. In Mauritius we use material bags instead of plastic ones. My mother carries around a silver fork with her to use, when she goes out.
- You mentioned that you are interested in Lithuania’s history and recently visited the KGB Museum.
- Yes, I visited the KGB Museum in Vilnius. I must say I came out as a new person. I am more sensitive to the culture of Lithuania. I have a bigger understanding of why this country is the way it is and a much deeper appreciation of people and Lithuanian culture. For example, it is surprising to be on a bus and to hear almost no one talking and people sitting in silence. That is quite different from Mauritius. I’m more sensitive to these things now and respect the culture, despite it being different than in Mauritius.
- What are your plans after graduation?
- I hope to get a job in Europe after I graduate. My country is a very small country and there are more opportunities in Europe. Perhaps I will go to the United Kingdom. Time will tell.