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Welcome to Vilnius! - ESN Vilnius · PDF file When Lithuania restored independence in 1990, Vilnius University regained autonomy, adopted its statute and current name. Faculties and

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  • Welcome to Vilnius!

    A quick guide for international students

    of Vilnius University

    Vilnius, 2016

  • Dear student!

    Thank you for choosing studies in Vilnius University. We sincerely hope

    that in addition to your studies, you will have a wonderful experience and

    enjoy meeting new people. ESN Vilnius University has prepared some

    events and social programs for all international students of VU and we

    invite you to try and participate in everything we have to offer.

    This quick guide will give you only a brief overview about Lithuania, its

    capital city Vilnius and some information that could be useful for you.

    We wish you a nice time during your exchange!

    Welcome to Vilnius University!

    Welcome to Lithuania!

    Welcome to the adventure of your life!

    ESN Vilnius University team


  • Lithuania in brief

    Lithuania (officially – Republic of Lithuania) is a small country in Northern Europe,

    bordering Latvia, Poland, Belarus and Russian Federation. Lithuania has a 90 km long

    coastline with Baltic Sea. Geographical center of Europe is located 26 km north of

    Vilnius. Lithuania is the largest of three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).

    Lithuania is really small (you can drive across the country in just 4 hours!) but its cultural

    heritage, nature and people are inspiring. There are almost 3 million inhabitants in

    Lithuania, out of which 84.2% are Lithuanians, 6.6% Poles and 5.8% Russians.

    Lithuania has rich culture and history, dating back to the year 1009. After five

    decades of Soviet occupation, Lithuania restored its independence in 1990 and

    became a member of the European Union and NATO in 2004. Today it is a part of

    Eurozone and is one of the fastest growing economies in EU.

    Republic of Lithuania is a democratic, semi-presidential republic

    with directly elected president and unicameral parliament Seimas.

    Since July 2009, the president of Lithuania is Dalia Grybauskaitė,

    the first woman to become a president in Lithuanian history.

  • Quick facts about Lithuanian history

    12 000 BCE – First people settle in the territory of Lithuania.

    1009 – Name of Lithuania is first mentioned in written sources.

    1253 – Kingdom of Lithuania is established by king Mindaugas.

    1387 – Lithuania becomes the last European nation to be Christianized.

    1410 – The battle of Žalgiris. Grand Duchy of Lithuania becomes the largest country in Europe.

    1569 – Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is founded.

    1795 – Polish-Lithuanian State is divided and annexed by Russian Empire, Prussia and Austria.

    1831 and 1863 – Unsuccessful uprisings against Russian rule. Vilnius University is closed (1832).

    Note: because of severe condition, sculptures are removed since July 2015

    1918 – Independent Republic of Lithuania is established on February 16, 1918.

    1940 – Lithuania is occupied and annexed by Soviet Union.

    1941 – Lithuania is occupied by Nazi Germany.

    1944 – Reoccupation by Soviet Union.

    1988 – Independence movement “Sąjūdis” starts.

    1990 – Independence of Lithuania is restored on March 11.

    1993 – National currency Litas is re-introduced.

    2004 – Lithuania joins EU and NATO.

    2009 – 1000th anniversary of the name of Lithuania.

    2015 – Lithuania joins Eurozone and introduces euro.

  • Vilnius – the capital city of Lithuania

    Vilnius is a capital and the largest city of

    Lithuania. It is located in the eastern part of

    the country and is just 30 kilometers away

    from border with Belarus.

    Vilnius has always been a multinational city

    since medieval ages. It is home to more than

    half a million inhabitants, out which about

    65% are Lithuanians. Polish and Russian

    people amount 16.5 and 12 percent.

    On January 25, 1323, the name of Vilnius was first mentioned in written sources.

    Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas wrote letters to European cities “in our city

    Vilnius” inviting foreign craftsmen, traders and priests to come to Vilnius.

    There is a romantic legend how Vilnius was

    founded. According to it, Gediminas was hunting

    and found that it was too late to go back to his

    residence in Trakai, so he decided to spend a night

    here. He had a dream of an iron wolf howling

    loudly at the top of the hill. Gediminas thought his

    dream was really unusual and asked the highest

    pagan priest Lizdeika for advice. The priest told

    Gediminas that he has to build a castle where the

    wolf was howling, iron wolf means the strength of

    the city and howling – loudness of Vilnius’ glory around the world.

  • Vilnius University

    Vilnius University is one of the oldest universities in Northern and Eastern Europe

    and the largest higher education institution in Lithuania.

    The university was founded in 1579 as the Jesuit

    Academy (College) of Vilnius by the Grand Duke of

    Lithuania and King of Poland Stephen Báthory. After

    November Uprising (1830–1831), university was closed

    by Russian authorities and was reopened again only in

    August 1919 by Polish administration.

    Despite any hardships and difficult historical changes, community of

    Vilnius University has been preserving cultural and scientific traditions

    of Lithuania and neighboring lands all the time since its foundation.

    When Lithuania restored independence in 1990, Vilnius University

    regained autonomy, adopted its statute and current name.

    Faculties and other facilities of Vilnius

    University are spread around the city. For

    example, administration is located in Central

    palace (CR) in Old town while Saulėtekis is

    home to some scientific centers. In 2013, a

    new modern library (MKIC) was opened there

    (pictured on the left).

    Did you know that Vilnius University has a

    large botanical garden in Kairėnai?

    About 21 thousand students study in

    Vilnius University, including more than 900

    international students.

    On September 1st every year, students of

    Vilnius University take part in a student’s

    procession in the main street of Vilnius –

    Gediminas’ avenue.

    Find out more about Vilnius University at:

  • Language

    The official language in Lithuania is Lithuanian.

    Lithuanian is one of the oldest and most

    archaic Indo-European languages in the

    world. Together with Latvian language,

    it forms a group of Baltic languages.

    Lithuanian is relatively difficult to learn

    for non-native speakers because of

    complex grammar and vocabulary.

    Lithuanian has some common linguistic

    features with Slavic (Russian, Polish)

    languages but most of vocabulary is

    completely different.

    Text on the picture: “Imagine how little of people in the world think in Lithuanian language. It is unique and

    no one will take it away from you. You are one of a few whose thoughts sound in Lithuanian”

    About 40% of all inhabitants in Vilnius

    can speak English. Most people younger

    than 35 years old are very likely to speak

    English and in good fluency. English is

    taught at most schools since primary

    school, so don’t be surprised to hear

    some people speaking very fluently.

    About 75% of the people in Vilnius can

    speak Russian. It was compulsory during

    Soviet rule, so most people still know it

    since then. However, fluency of Russian

    language among young people is quite

    poor – it’s common they can understand

    a little bit but cannot speak.

    Some locals of Vilnius can speak Polish but it’s not so common as English or Russian.

    Basically, you can always ask young people for help in English, they might be able to

    answer you more or less clearly. Older generation (40+) might speak Russian better.

  • Basic Lithuanian phrases

    It’s useful to learn some basic Lithuanian phrases: you may be able to open up and

    surprise locals positively by showing interest into our language which Lithuanians

    are very proud of. Even a few basic phrases are enough!

    In order to express approximate pronunciation better, phrases here are provided in

    Latin (English), Cyrillic (Russian), Hangeul (Korean) and Katakana (Japanese) scripts.

    Word/phrase Approximate pronunciation

    English Lithuanian English Cyrillic Hangeul Katakana

    Hi (informal) Labas lah-bahs лабас 라바스 ラバス

    Hello (casual) Sveiki sway-kee свяйки 스베이키 スベイキ

    Hello (formal) [“Good day”]

    Laba diena lah-bah d’ye-na

    лаба дена 라바 디에나 ラバ デナ

    Hello (phone) Alio ah-lyoh алё 알료 アリョ

    How are you? Kaip sekasi? kayp seh-kah-see кайп сякаси 카입 세카시 カイプ セカシ

    Good/fine Gerai geh-ray