After Sailing the World, Logistics Management Grad from India Landed on Solid Ground in Širvintos - MRU

17 July, 2023
After Sailing the World, Logistics Management Grad from India Landed on Solid Ground in Širvintos
Faculty of Public Governance and Business
International Students

Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) Master's Degree graduate Sikh Gursewak Singh from Jalandhar, India, liked to travel from a young age. During his college days he would often board trains in India and travel across the Indian continent visiting temples, shrines and admiring cities such as Mumbai, Goa and Bangalore. His love of travel resulted in a job on a merchant tanker sailing across the world and sometimes it was in hostile waters. Once, his ship had even been chased by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. At a young age, he had seen more of the world than people twice his age. He then astonished his mother several years ago by announcing that he would pursue Master‘s Degree studies in Logistics in Vilnius at MRU. He agreed to answer a few questions about his life and new job in Širvintos, which he landed after graduation.

-Why did you come to Vilnius?

I had worked for 13 years on tankers and ships as a marine engineer. I‘ve been to all the major cities of the world and many different ports including even Klaipėda in 2018. I decided back in 2021 to change career paths and pursue a Master‘s Degree and decided to study in Lithuania. MRU had a Master‘s Degree programme that suited my interests – Logistics Management. I like many things about Lithuania especially that the pace of life is much slower here than in other parts of the world. There is less stress here, unlike many other capital cities in the world. I have found something different here in Vilnius, in Lithuania, that is appealing to me.

-You graduated in January 2023 with a Master‘s Degree, but did not return to India. Why did you decide to stay in Vilnius and Lithuania?

I have lived on my own since the age of 21. I did not want to live in Western Europe or the United States. I settled on the Baltics, about which I didn‘t know all that much. I like challenges. Living here, where the food and language and customs are different than in India, is truly a challenge. After graduation earlier this year, I started to apply for jobs. I landed a job in Širvintos in a company dealing with furniture. It is good to leave your "comfort zone“ and try to live in a new place and to try out new foods, learn about different customs. I am getting adjusted to my job and enjoy it very much.

-How did you land a job in Širvintos, 50-kilometers away from Vilnius?

After graduation, I started looking for a job not only in Vilnius, but also in surrounding towns and cities nearby. One day I saw an ad on the Internet that a furniture company in Širvintos was looking for an employee. I applied and was invited for an interview. I had attached my photo to the application, so I don‘t think the personnel office was very surprised when they saw me – a Sikh with a turban. Now every morning I take the bus from Vilnius to Širvintos. The work suits me and is connected with my area of studies – logistics. I am able to apply some of the knowledge I acquired at MRU on the job. I know that I am not a spring chicken anymore so not much surprises me culturally. I work not only with Lithuanians, but also with Polish-speaking and Russian-speaking employees. I have managed to learn a bit of Polish and say Dzień dobry to my fellow Polish employees. I also know a few phrases in Russian so that I can greet my fellow colleagues in Russian. The hard part is to remember which colleague speaks what language.

-How about Lithuanian language? Have you managed to learn some Lithuanian?

At this time I am in the process of learning Lithuanian. It is very important to know the language of the country where you live. My employer in Širvintos also encourages me to learn Lithuanian so that it would be simpler to communicate with my fellow employees. Every day I learn some new words and phrases, so I am making progress. Aside from English, I also speak Punjabi, Hindi and Marathi.

Your current job differs from your engineering job on merchant vessels. How different is the adjustment?

Well, I don‘t miss being away from land and on a ship for months at a time. I faced many challenges as part of my work. There was rough weather at sea, strict schedules and ever-changing time zones. Each port also has its own rules and regulations. In the Middle East you have to lock up all alcohol on board due to port restrictions there. Also, no pork is allowed on a ship while docked in ports in the Middle East, so the captain has to prepare ahead of time and stock up on chicken and other foodstuffs, for the time we will be sailing in that area. In Chinese ports, you may have your computer searched. Customs officials board the vessel and select random sailors for a "check“ of computers. If prohibitted material is found, you can lose  your job or be forced to disembark. The rules are influenced by local economy, social customs and religious practices. We need to follow them, if we are visiting that country.

-You are in Vilnius almost two years. Is there something that you especially enjoy in Vilnius?

Yes, the green areas. I especially like the park near MRU and the green trees all around. Overall, in Vilnius, I like the integration of nature with urban areas. It is very nice. That is missing in India. In the summer, it is nice to take a dip in the lakes and go swimming. Lithuanians believe if they don‘t swim in the lake or go to the seaside in the summer, that they have missed out on something. It‘s a typical thing for Lithuanians to do in the summer much like picking berries or going mushroom hunting in the fall. Forests are part of Lithuanian culture. Even a person living in a city will go to the forest. In India, we have forests, but we have wild animals there. I couldn‘t walk in the jungle in India. I need a guide because there are tigers living there.

-You have visited many different ports and cities. Which one left the biggest impression?

I liked especially Australia‘s port city of Perth and the New Zealand city of Nelson near the Tasman Bay.  I also enjoyed visiting Alaska – the port of Kenai. The nature there is unique and amazingly beautiful.

-You are a Sikh. What do Lithuanians need to know about Sikhs?

Sikhism is a peace-loving religion, which believes in equality and universal brotherhood. It's the 5th largest religion in the world. We cover our heads with a turban because in Indian culture the turban represents commitment towards a belief.

-What are your future plans?

I would like to continue studies at MRU, perhaps in a doctoral programme. I am thinking about that. At some point, I would like to return to Punjab, India too.