MRU student Mushafiq Sharief (21) from Srinagar, Kashmir says the tall buildings in Vilnius, the shopping malls and the well-functioning public transport were new experiences and new sights for him. The Mykolas Romeris University exchange student is spending the spring semester immersed in game design studies. “Everything is super different here and nothing is the same,” says the Kashmiri who hails from one of the most picturesque regions of the world.
“I wish there was no pandemic in Vilnius,” he added. “Because of COVID19, we can not see the real city,” he said. He agreed to answer some questions about his experiences in Vilnius.
-Why did you come to Vilnius?
-I study game design at LPU University in India’s Punjab. I had always wanted to pursue further studies abroad due to the high-level of education. My University has partnerships with some universities abroad. I was offered to study at Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius. I had to take advantage of this opportunity. It was the first time I got this possibility, so for me it was like a dream come true. Now I would like to have more Kashmiri students come to Vilnius and study here and experience living and studying in Europe. I am already telling fellow students and friends in Kashmir about Lithuania and the great opportunities available for students here.
-What did you know about Lithuania before coming?
-I had a faint idea and had heard of the Baltic countries in Europe. I was open to what I would find. I see that your nature is beautiful and the climate is cold so you have snow during the winter. For me snow it’s not a problem, because it snows in Kashmir. So, I find it more like home here.
-What do you find different here in Vilnius?
-The flowers in supermarkets and those sold on the street are new. It’s strange for me to see the flower stalls and people in Vilnius so interested in buying flowers. That is surprising for me and that people just enjoy flowers so much. It’s not just 1 or 2 people. It’s so many people here in Vilnius buying flowers. In Kashmir we don’t have this tradition to buy flowers. In Srinagar we have a tulip garden that blooms two months of the year – in March and April. Everyone comes to see the tulips and it becomes very crowded. One other thing I noticed is that public transport is efficient and on-time. That is good.
-Anything else that surprises you?
-The tall buildings – skyscrapers that you have in Vilnius. In Kashmir, we don’t have these types of tall buildings. We don’t have shopping malls. We don’t even want to have them in Kashmir. We want to keep Kashmir clean and in a pristine state. Also, I have learned about the midnight sun in this part of the world during the summer months and also about daylight savings time. It’s a new experience for me.
-How do you find the food in Lithuania?
-It’s tasty, but rather plain to me. I am used to eating spicy foods and using different types of spices like garam masala. Food is something that you have to get adapted to. As a Muslim, I don’t eat pork. But in Kashmir, we use spices such as turmeric, saffron, curry powders to make curries. We eat roti flatbread and chapatti. Also, we have a special pink tea (chai) that we drink with anise, cinnamon and cardamom. But instead of sugar, we add salt. Our day doesn’t start without a cup of pink tea.
-What are your plans after graduation?
I would like to return to Europe and try to get a job here. In Kashmir it is not always easy to find employment. Those that do get a job, will never think about leaving it. We shall see. But I am enjoying my time in Lithuania immensely.