The republic of Lithuania lies on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea and is the southernmost and largest country of the three Baltic Staes. Vilnius is a lively city with people from all the different nationalities and cultures who have lived here and created a colorful city mosaic. Explore the rest of Northern Europe from Lithuania - Vilnius provides easy travel access to Latvia, Belarus, Poland, and Scandinavia. Enjoy the history and lifestyle of Lithuania's capital, which was declared the 2009 European Capital of Culture.
HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW
There are two types of higher education institutions in Lithuania: universities and colleges. These are divided into state and non-state institutions.
Studies at college are at undergraduate level only, focused on practical activities and aimed at acquiring a professional bachelor’s degree or a professional qualification, testified by the professional bachelor diploma or higher education diploma. The duration of studies is three to four years.
The education system at universities is a bit different. Studies are organized in three cycles: First – undergraduate studies (bachelor), second – master and specialized professional studies; third – doctoral, post-graduate, residency studies.
- Start of school year is usually September 1
- The school year is divided into two semesters: spring and fall, with each semester taking 16 weeks
- Holidays include:
- Winter (end of January – beginning of February)
- Summer (two months off)
- Easter (a week before Easter)
STUDYING IN LITHUANIA
Grading and Workload
Vilnius University follows the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) as a standard for comparing the study attainment and performance of students of higher education. For successfully completed studies, ECTS credits are awarded.
Number of classes typical student takes per term: 5-7
Number of hours per week typical student spends in class: 20-23
Number of weeks per term: 16
Course registration will take place once you arrive on campus. Please contact your host coordinator to see if you should do anything in advance of your arrival.
The student must make sure that he/she has formally registered all the courses that he/she attended during the semester in the "Course Registration form". The student must inform the ISEP coordinator at Vilnius University about all the changes in the study program that he/she made during the semester. Transcript of Records will be sent to ISEP Global and ISEP will forward the official transcript to the student via the home university coordinator.
Visa and Residency
COVID-19 Update: Visa and Residency guidelines are subject to change and may be updated without warning a result of COVID-19 governmental regulations. Students should review the Special Conditions of Placement in their ISEP Acceptance Package for the most current information.
Please note that students should ALWAYS check the website of the embassy/consulate with jurisdiction over their place of residence first, as the information in this handbook regarding visa application instructions is subject to change without warning.
Type of visa for Semester or Full Year: National Type D visa (for students from non-EU countries)
Visa fee: EUR 120, or $133 via VFS Global
Expected processing time: 15-90 days, pending requests for additional documentation
When to apply: after you receive your acceptance letter and any admission documents from your host university
APPLYING FOR A VISA
• Vilnius University provides the following guidance for ISEP students applying for their Lithuanian Visa here.
• All ISEP students will be required to register with the Migration office and/or apply for a visa:
- For students from EU countries, you will be required to register at the Migration Office upon arrival
- For students from non-EU countries, you will be required to obtain a National Type D visa prior to arrival by submitting the necessary documents to the Lithuanian Embassy
-- IMPORTANT: A Schengen visa is for short term stays of up to 90 days - this is not the correct visa type for the purposes of study. Please be sure to submit the correct application.
• Applications can be submitted online using the EPM system, and then must be downloaded, signed, and sent with a picture to the Consular Post indicated in the "General visa application data" section. For a list of documents necessary to apply, please see the Migration Department - "I want to Get a Visa", under "The purpose of my arrival is a long-term stay in Lithuania. What documents do I have to submit for a national visa?". Further information for exchange students can be found here: Migration Department - "I'm a Student" section.
- Please be sure to read through the entire "Application data input" section at the top of the application for important application instructions!
- Students with US citizenship can use VFS Global to make an appointment at a consulate or embassy to submit their application and biometric information.
• Important Notes:
- You cannot obtain a national visa (D) upon arrival in Lithuania. You may see guidance indicating this is possible. It is not recommended for any ISEP students.
- A multiple entry national visa (D) may be issued for the period not exceeding one year (12 months).
- If you have a national visa (D) for your studies, you are NOT allowed to work during your studies.
• ALWAYS USE THE MIGRATION WEBSITES FIRST. The information located in this guide may not be as up to date as the official Immigration Service.
• Please keep in mind when reading instructions that you are applying for a Visa Type D, not a Schengen visa, for the purposes of study.
• Lithuania is a member of the Schengen area. Students should review the important regulations that dictate travel and visas within the Schengen area.
- Vilnius University Visa & Residence Permit Procedure
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania - Entry to Lithuania
- Migracijos Departamentas (Migration Department of Lithuania)
- Information on National Visa D
Updated December 2022
Lithuanian is the official language of the country. Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving languages of the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family. Although Lithuanian and Latvian are closely related, they are not mutually intelligible. You will find that all nationals speak Lithuanian and many citizens, especially the elder generation, speak fluent Russian. The younger generation is generally more fluent in English than in Russian.
Food and drink
Lithuanian cuisine is heavily influenced by German, Polish and Scandinavian cooking techniques. Dishes often include pork, smoked meats, cabbage, beets and potatoes. International students may enjoy eating national Lithuanian delicacies like beet soup with buttermilk (šaltibarščiai) and boiled potato dumplings filled with meat or curd (cepelinai).
Traditional Lithuanian drinks include beers such as Utenos and Kalnapilis and mead such as Žalgiris and Suktinis. Wine (vynas) is also served in most restaurants and bars.
Did you know that Vilnius was the 2009 European Capital of Culture? Performing arts are a large part of Lithuanian culture. With access to 13 professional theaters, a National Opera Theater, several youth theaters, puppet theaters, state orchestras and hundreds of choral groups, Lithuanian citizens regularly attend performing arts events. The Vilnius Quartet and the Rinkevičius Orchestra are well known throughout the country, and the Nekrošius Theater has won international acclaim.
Folk music and dancing also attract the attention of Lithuanians, as there are thousands of folklore groups throughout the country. It is typical for schools and towns to have their own folklore groups that dress in traditional costume and perform within their region.
Customs and Etiquette
You will find that Lithuanians are a reserved people with respect for tradition. Though they may seem aloof during initial meetings, Lithuanians are very warm and welcoming. Once they become familiar with someone, they tend to open up quite a bit. The most common greeting for friends and acquaintances is the handshake, with direct eye contact and a smile. When invited into a Lithuanian person’s home, people often bring wine, flowers or sweets to the hostess. Take note that bringing an odd number of flowers to your hostess is culturally preferable; even numbers of flowers are typically used at memorial services and funerals.
Public holidays and festivals
Lithuania is home to a number of public holidays and festivals. As a predominantly Catholic nation, Lithuania celebrates Good Friday, Easter Monday, All Saints’ Day and Christmas Day as national holidays. They also commemorate their independence and restoration of their independence in February and March. You will enjoy participating in the many annual festivals including the Kaunas International Jazz Festival, the week-long Life Theatre Festival in Vilnius, the Vilnius Summer Music Festival and the Vilnius City Masks Festival.
Basketball is the most popular sport in Lithuania. The country’s national team won the Bronze Medal in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics. In the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics, their team finished fourth. FIBA currently recognizes the Lithuanian team as fifth in the world.
Other sports like rugby and football (soccer) are growing in popularity throughout the country. Citizens also love to paraglide, windsurf and sail on the coast of the Baltic Sea. If you are interested in golfing, Vilnius offers a top-rated golf course at the Capital Golf Club.
The electric current is 220 volts AC, 50 hz. European plugs are required.
A general rule applies to restaurants and cafes to leave 5-10 % tips if the service is not included. It is uncommon to leave tips for taxi drivers unless you are just rounding up to the nearest Euro and asking the taxi driver to keep the change.
There is a convenient public transport system in Vilnius consisting of buses, trolley-buses and minibuses. More information on public transport, prices is available here.
Students may get discounts for the public transport with the Lithuanian student card. Neither International student card nor student card of home university is valid for the discounts in Lithuania. International students apply for Lithuanian student card when they arrive in Vilnius. The student card must be presented together with the ticket in case tickets are checked by authorities.
Public transport in Vilnius usually starts around 5 a.m. and continues until 11.00 p.m. The map of bus/trolleybus line network is available here.
Museums, art galleries, business centers are usually open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. (Museums are usually closed on Mondays). Restaurants and cafés are usually open until 11 p.m. In Vilnius the majority of shopping centers are open on Saturdays and Sundays as well just their office hours might be shorter (until 2-3 p.m.).
There are three mobile phone operators in Lithuania: Omnitel, BITE and TELE 2. About 97% of the country's surface is covered by the standard European GSM 900/1800 MHz network, the remaining 3% are remote forest areas.
To call abroad from Lithuania:
From a land line phone: “00” + “Your Country Code” + “The Number Abroad”
From a mobile phone: Dial “+” + “Your Country Code” + “The Number Abroad”
To call to Lithuania from abroad, dial the Lithuania country code, 370, then the number, as if calling from a domestic mobile phone.
International and roaming calls are expensive. To reduce your bill you can:
Buy "phone cards" for international calls
Talk over the Internet
With your own laptop, Wireless LAN Hot-Spots are available in distinct places (mostly "Zebra" from - TEO), sometimes free, otherwise not very cheap around ~1-2 EUR/hour. Best chances of finding Hot Spots are at airports, railway stations, in cafés, shopping malls, Vilnius University, and other various places. There are even special road signs that indicate places with Internet access. For those who need to connect at an Internet cafes, major cities do have internet cafes. You can get free wireless Internet in Kaunas main pedestrian street - Laisves Aleja. Download speed reaches 26.2 Mb/s, while upload speed is 16.8 Mb/s. Keep in mind that the internet services that provide such speeds are not free.
With your mobile phone you can use: CSD, HSCSD, GPRS or EDGE, but the cost may be unattractive. UMTS is only available in some bigger cities. If your phone is not SIM-locked, you may consider purchasing a pre-paid SIM card designed for data access.
Lithuania is in the Eastern European Time Zone, abbreviated EET, during the winter and Eastern European Summer Time, EEST, during the summer. Daylight savings is observed. EET, in the winter, is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)/ GMT and EEST, in the summer, is 3 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)/ GMT. Lithuania is in same time zone as Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, and Latvia.
Health and Safety
COVID-19 Note: ISEP expects changes to COVID-19 vaccine requirements for 2021 and 2022 programs. If the student's host country, host university, home university, home country, or travel provider require a COVID-19 vaccination, students must comply with that requirement. ISEP will notify students if we become aware of changes in the terms of participation for their program.
Prescription Medications: If you’re planning to bring your prescription or over-the-counter medicine on your trip, you need to make sure your medicine is travel-ready. More information can be found here, and please contact your Student Services Coordinator and ISEP Coordinator with any additional questions.
General Health Guidelines: Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference our Guides and Tips section for general information regarding health and safety abroad.
Detailed information about Lithuania can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and Security, Local Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections.
Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S. nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections.
From January 1st, 2014, official currency of Lithuania is euro. Most places in Vilnius and in other towns accept major credit cards, and there are quite a few ATMs. If you are planning to spend time in the countryside, take plenty of cash.
COST OF LIVING
Staying in Lithuania for a foreigner is not very expensive, but you should be aware of prices here. According to recent calculations the total monthly living expenses of a single student are around 400 euros: Accommodation – 60 euros (if you stay in a dormitory), food – 175 euros, books and other academic needs – 60 euros, local transport – around 6 euros, miscellaneous – 80 euros. Expenses can differ according to student’s plans here. The prices for a meal at the University cafeteria range from 2,50 to 4 EUR. For comparison, 1kg of potatoes costs about 0,8 euro cents, a pack of milk (1 litre) about 0,7 euro cents, 1 kg of meat (pork) about 3-5 euros,10 eggs about 1,5 euros, bottle of beer 0,5 – 0,8 euro cents.
Sources of Information
Vilnius Visitor’s Guide
The World Factbook for Lithuania:
Lonely Planet Estonia Latvia & Lithuania (Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania)
Colloquial Lithuanian: The Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series)
International Travel Health Guide
CDC Health Information for International Travel 2008 (Health Information for International Travel)