International community, many opportunities to expand knowledge and skills, and student organisations are the main advantages of Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) for Fallon Manhanga from Zimbabwe. Studying civil engineering, she came to KTU from Cyprus, which was “too hot”. The girl was happy to find a much better study quality and far more agreeable climate in Kaunas.
“There’re more opportunities presented here. I guess, you have to show the initiative, and if you do, teachers and staff will be willing to go the extra mile for you”, says Fallon.
The third year bachelor’s student is an active member of Women Leadership Network at KTU, is involved in KTU Ambassadors’ activities, and is taking extra classes for research activities. On her free time, Fallon is teaching English in a private school on Saturdays and playing field hockey, a very popular sport back home.
“I am one of those people who are very good at maximising opportunities. I don’t like to dwell on the negative, because if you do that you’ll waste a lot of time”, says the girl, smiling.
Coming from the far-away Zimbabwe she mostly misses her family and food, but is happy to experience cool Lithuanian climate and is enjoying our green nature, which reminds her of home.
Plans to go home and start building
Former student of a university in Cyprus, Fallon admits that she chose Lithuania for it being a Christian nation, but, most of all, for the quality of studies at KTU: “It seemed that I wasn’t getting much from studies in Cyprus, not progressing, really”.
Here at KTU she is working closely with teachers and professors and is even involved in doing a research project.
“We are researching the recycling of concrete waste water: investigating various factors, such as its compressing strength and others. Then we might possibly see, if you can actually reuse the water by adding it to the concrete mix”, explains Fallon.
She chose civil engineering as this is a field the student felt she might make the biggest impact, to implement the biggest changes back home.
“I want to take in as much experience as I can, maybe to travel and study in other European countries. However, after studies I am planning to go home and to start building. Here I see so many things we don’t have in my own country: the way the buildings are built, general construction processes in Lithuania are so much more advanced”, says Fallon.
Varied and active international community
Although Fallon would like to meet more Zimbabweans and even more Africans in Kaunas, she is impressed by the variety of the international community at KTU.
“In Kaunas I can meet people from Italy and Spain, and even South America, as they come here through Erasmus exchange and other programmes. We live together in the dormitory of international students, and you can really get to feel what the different cultures are”, says Fallon.
The girl says, that although it might be beneficial for international students and Lithuanians to mix a little bit more by living together in the
same dormitory, she would suggest to start the integration process slowly, from volunteers. In her opinion, the initiative to integrate into
different culture is always upon the person who comes.
“Even us, international students, are forming different groups, so you have to make an effort if you want to integrate into any of them. While talking to local people, I try to use basic Lithuanian phrases to be more approachable, to show that I am open to communicate. I believe, that even if you are not intending to stay somewhere, you need to make an attempt to integrate into the society”, says Fallon.
Teaches English and encourages women leadership
Teaching English in a private school for 3-6 year olds for the KTU student is also a part of integrating into society, as she gets to know more people and to communicate with other teachers. Fallon says the work is fun: “It’s an interesting job and my pupils are really very sweet children: they want to touch me, they always hug me and are amazed about everything, even when I, for example, change my hairstyle”.
Making an effort, communicating and networking bore fruit: through language teaching classes the student found a very welcoming and open church community, which activities take up a very meaningful part of her life.
Another organisation, of which activities Fallon feels passionate about, is KTU Women Leadership Network. Together with 8 members, mostly international students, they are organising events and initiatives, such as donating clothes, collected from students to social care home for disabled children and young people.
“The situation of women in Lithuania is very different from what we have at home. You even have a woman president! Back home, we mainly have men fighting over power. Women driving busses, working as engineers and doing other jobs shows that you are obviously on a different level”, says KTU student from Zimbabwe.
Here’s to the next president of Zimbabwe
However, emigration might be the topic to which both Lithuanians and Zimbabweans can relate: because of the economic situation many educated people fled the country searching for jobs to feed their families.
“We are the most educated nation in Africa – you will not find a person in Zimbabwe not speaking at least some basic English, people are highly educated in many fields. However, everybody is going away as the economic situation is very challenging: people are going to neighbouring countries, to South Africa, Europe, America, anywhere”, says Fallon.
However, the girl is hopeful for the future.
“I get so many fresh ideas here, and I hope that someday I will be able to implement them at home. Who knows, maybe I will become a president…”, she laughs.
For those, willing to come to KTU she says: come prepared to work, because that’s what will be expected from you. But come, definitely do.
Apply now for studying at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) in the academic year 2018/2019. Quality education is a continuous journey of learning and development, full of new knowledge, discoveries, opportunities and ideas. If your goal is international studies, interdisciplinary competences and successful career – choose KTU for your degree studies. For more information, visit Admissions page.