Hey! I am Justina from Lithuania. When I was studying at Vilnius University, Master of Laws I decided to use student exchange program Erasmus+. Frankly, I didn’t know anything about UEA and initially wanted to go to Belgium, luckily I was appointed to UEA for the 2015 autumn semester.
When I arrived in Norwich it was quite hard for me because everything was new, I had to adjust to very simple things such as the different driving side, breakfast without dark bread, weather that can change dramatically in few minutes. And of course at the very beginning I felt a bit lonely because I was the only student from my university. It was also difficult to understand British English. But everything changed quickly, in few weeks I got used to the atmosphere and rhythm of Norwich (which was very positive and friendly!), I made some friends and it started to be more and more interesting and fun.
I found my lectures very interesting and informative. I had two subjects: Media Law and Competition Law, and I was writing my Master Thesis at the same time. Moreover, I have to mention that the School of Law is established in an authentic ancient English building, Earlham Hall, which is surrounded by meadows and English gardens. Staff at UEA were helpful and made my semester smooth. When I had an issue (I needed to submit autumn semester results to my home university earlier than normal), everyone from my lecturers to my adviser helped me to do so and graduate on time.
Norwich itself is also very authentic city with beautiful architecture and nature. In the city center you can feel city life with all the shops, cafes, places for tourists, but only in few kilometers you can enjoy wild nature and endless meadows. The location of Norwich is very convenient, it is not far from London, Cambridge, and the seaside – so it is easy to discover other places as well.
During my semester I found out a lot of things about others and myself. I met people from all over the world and had an opportunity to communicate with them, to hear about their country’s customs and traditions, political and cultural life from a primary source! That was one of the best things. Everyday I felt that I was learning, not only improving my English (which was also super cool) or legal things, but the main lessons were from the people I met – my friends. I had the privilege to meet such an interesting people, to spend time with them, to discuss and to share my experiences, as well as to represent my country. What I found out was that no matter where you are from, we are so similar – we all seek for joy, love and self-fulfillment. Life in Norwich and studies at UEA made me realise myself as a world citizen. All the experiences and challenges that I had while studying at UEA made me more persistent and positive in everyday life.
The day I had to leave Norwich was both happy and sad. It was happy because I was going home; I missed my family, friends and my country a lot. I wanted to share and use all my experiences that I gained during my studies abroad with all of them. But it was also sad, because of the friendly and positive atmosphere, of the many things I didn’t have time to try, and most of all because of friends I had to leave. However, true friendship can survive the distance. Next month I am going to Japan to meet some friends from UEA!
After coming back to Vilnius I successfully graduated my Master Studies, I started volunteering at local nonprofit organisation (the first time I tried volunteering was at Norwich FoodCycle), I am working in a law firm as a lawyer and also recently started implementing a social project for teenagers who lack motivation.
It is more than a year after I came back from UEA and I am still missing the life I had there. I remember that time as very happy, active and interesting. After only few month spent abroad I became much more open to the world, people and opportunities, more socially responsible, more communicative, positive, braver and happier. Thanks to UEA and all the nice people I met!
If you still unsure to go for student exchange or not – my answer is only YES. Just go for it. I can guarantee you will face challenges and you will grow as a person, you will extend your knowledge, you will have the most remarkable adventures and you will meet a lot of bright and nice people. It leaves me with the best memories and was the experience of a lifetime!