Abu Dhabi: For most students about to embark on their international studies, university is a time of independence and being away from the family — not so however in the case of four Lithuanian sisters who all ended up studying together at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), creating a unique experience for themselves.
“We didn’t plan this out beforehand, it just worked out that way that we all came to the same university here at NYUAD. They just happened to have the best offer out of all the universities we looking for, and each of us individually in the end decided that this would be the best option for us,” said Laura Karpauskaite, 22, the second oldest sibling among the group.
“It definitely has helped a lot knowing that you have family around, and as sisters we had a very strong bond with each other even before we left for university, it’s a great feeling knowing that you have your sisters whom you can always contact when you need something,” she added.
“It’s become a running joke at the university with each different academic year having a different sister in attendance. The good thing is that we haven’t been all lumped together because we are sisters, we’ve all been recognised as our own individuals with our different personalities,” she said.
The foursome will be reduced to three soon as the eldest sister Ruta, 24, is set to graduate as the class of 2019.
“Although I am excited about my future studies at John Hopkins SAIS, it is bittersweet because I know I will not have the same support circle of my sisters around me,” said Ruta.
“It was great having my younger sisters around me, having them along with my friends to hang out with, but above all someone to count on. Over the four years I have really gotten to feel as if this place were my home with my sisters, so I am sad to leave. I will always be able to return to NYUAD to visit my sisters and see them graduate, and I am thankful for that,” she added.
Egle, 21, said she was initially hesitant to join NYUAD as her two older sisters were already studying at the institute.
“I was kind of reluctant in the beginning because my sisters were already there, but then I had a chance to visit the campus as part of the university’s candidate week that changed my whole mindset. It was a big decision for me to move here because it was so different from back home in Lithuania, but I knew it was the right decision because my sisters had done the same thing and they were doing fine.
“It’s a very big campus and each of us are usually busy doing our own thing so it’s not like we are always running into each other. I also had the opportunity to study one full semester in Berlin as part of a study away programme, and so there has been a good level of independence,” she added.
“The fact that my older sisters are here with me didn’t turn out to be a disadvantage and actually made my experience even better both academically and personally. Anytime I was struggling and needed advice they there were there for me to push me on. They already understood what I was going through as they had been through the same situations,” she said.
Dalia, 19, the youngest of the group called it a blessing to have three of her older sisters already at the university, saying it helped her avoid many of the struggles new students often run into when adapting to a new environment.
“I could not have been more blessed to have had my sisters — obviously as students moving abroad we all want some level of independence and freedom, but it was just perfect to have my sisters because it helped me so much adjusting to a new country and system without having to feel alone. It felt like I was coming home in a way.
“It’s always super hard at the beginning to adjust and I saw some of the struggles other freshman students had to go through at the start,” she added.
“As the youngest one I could always turn to all three of my sisters but at the same time we weren’t glued or restricted to each other, I could still break out and do my own thing so in a way it’s been the best of both worlds,” she said.