As you already know AEGEE gives you several chances to integrate in the international University social life, today we have a special guest to interview, a young Lithuanian guy who has just become vice-president of AEGEE Tilburg.
Hello Simonas, we have heard that now you are involved directly with AEGEE Tilburg but first tell us something about you.
Hello, my name is Simonas Valionis, I am 25 years old and I come from Lithuania. At the moment I am doing a master in Communication and Information Sciences at Tilburg University with specialization in Digital Media and Business Communication. During my previous education I studied to become translator from Lithuanian to English and vice versa .
Why did you decide to leave your own country and apply for a master in the Netherlands?
After finishing my translation studies I was offered a job in the same college I was studying, the job was related to communication and international relations, I was responsible for the Erasmus programme in my institution and I also supervised several European projects in high education. For instance, there was a large project called ADUQUA which was related to adult education and whose main goal was to help immigrants all over Europe to integrate better in their countries. After working in this position for two and half years I felt that it was time to move on, find new challenges and change my environment. Why the Netherlands? Well, I started applying for MA degrees in several countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands because I was always fascinated by the Western part of Europe. Finally, I got accepted by two different Dutch Universities, respectively, Radboud University Nijmegen and Tilburg University. After reviewing them both I decided to go with the latter one.
So far so good in the Netherlands?
Absolutely ! I have been here for one year only and I feel that this country has become my second home, I do really enjoy living here. However, after graduating I am planning to explore other continents and countries, most likely USA.
We also know that last summer you had a great experience with AEGEE, could you please describe your experience ?
I participated in the biggest project of AEGEE which is the summer university . It was the best summer I have ever had in my life, I spent 18 wonderful days in the North of Spain travelling and experiencing amazing cities like Zaragoza, Burgos, Leon, Madrid. I met a bunch of amazing people from all over the Europe who became close friends and we continue to keep in touch until now. This summer university was the reason that I decided to become an active member of AEGEE Tilburg because I wanted to return the favour to the organization which gave me this incredible chance to widen my horizons. I contacted the previous board members of AEGEE Tilburg to ask if could join the new board that was expected to be elected in the coming weeks, after several interviews I was appointed as a vice-president of the student association.
Would you recommend the same experience to young students then?
I would definitely recommend everyone to join AEGEE and participate in a summer University for several reasons : ability to experience new cultures through their local food, heritage, and citizens , have the chance to meet the most incredible young people from all over the Europe who want to exchange their knowledge and talents, finally have the time of your life.
Let’s change topic, Lithuania has been part of the European Union since 2004 at the beginning of this year more precisely the 1st January 2015 joined the Eurozone by adopting the euro currency. What is your impression about this decision?
There is no doubt that it is a great achievement for Lithuania to be part of the EU since 2004 and the option to adopt the EURO was a main topic from the very beginning. However, it required a lot of systematic hard work and many years inside the country in order to be ready to change the currency. The reason why this process took so long it was basically that in order to change the currency the economy of a country must be stable, back in 2004 Lithuania was still a growing country not yet ready for such big changes. After three governmental terms and an improved economical situation it was the right time to embrace the Euro currency. Well, my impression is that this change was inevitable and it happened at the time when the country and the people were already prepared for that. Even though, it can be noticed that the prices have increased a little bit, the benefits carried by this decision in the long term period will outweigh this aspect.
Do you perceive the EU as a whole entity or given the recent events such the Greek referendum and all its implications you think that this great project is still far from being achieved ?
For me personally, the EU project is what makes the whole Europe unite. There will always be challenges and difficulties for the complete and equal integration of the continent, but if we all think about other people, not only ourselves and systematically work towards the same goal, we will overcome the darkest times, setting the life quality at the level which satisfies everyone. In my opinion, Europe should be borderless and available to all who are interested. Some call it Europe, I call it home!