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As the quarantine period has entered its second month, Pakistani student Haris Qamar from Lahore admits he’s not much affected by the lockdown because online lectures at Mykolas Romeris University keep him busy.
Haris Qamar
Haris Qamar
© Asmeninins albumas

After virtual classes, he listens to music, reads, but admits that sometimes he is overtaken by boredom. But fellow students from all over Europe are all living in the dormitory so there is always time to talk or review lecture materials with them.

Compared to Lahore and its huge population, Haris finds Vilnius a calm, city. The former Computer Science major said the subject did not interest him as much as Psychology, which he is now studying. As an amateur photographer, he likes to take photos of small objects. An interview with the 24-year-old student follows.

- Why did you come to Vilnius?

- I wanted to study my Bachelor’s Degree abroad. I came to know about MRU. I applied right away and was admitted. Now I am a second year Psychology student at MRU. Coming to Vilnius and studying at Mykolas Romeris University was probably the best decision of my life.

- How did you find out about a Lithuanian university, while being thousands of kilometers away in Lahore?

- I was searching for universities online and I saw MRU. It caught my attention. Mykolas Romeris University was one of the few universities. When I got accepted, I was very excited to live and study in Europe.

- What did you know about Vilnius and Lithuania before arriving here?

- I did not know much – just an overview of the history of Lithuania. I knew the important dates, holidays, the location. Of course, I learned much more after arriving here.

- What did friends and family say when you told them you were coming to Vilnius?

- My family was pretty happy and supportive of my decision, while most of my relatives and friends did not even know where Lithuania was located. And, I think that’s ok. But now, for sure, they know where it is.

- What are the differences between Lahore and Vilnius?

- They are big. In Pakistan, almost everywhere people are wearing comfortable long cotton shirts with trousers. I come from Lahore, the capital of Punjab. There are 12-million people living there. Vilnius, by comparison, is several times smaller, which is good. Also, shopping hours differ. Shops in Lahore open at 11 a.m. and stay open until 10 p.m. If you are hungry, some restaurants stay open until 3 a.m. In my city almost everything is available after midnight hours. That’s not the case in Vilnius. But, of course, Vilnius is a smaller city.

Haris Qamar
Haris Qamar
© Asmeninins albumas

- What do you miss most now that you are far from Pakistan?

- I miss my food from Pakistan. I miss having Biryani, Haleem, Daal Chawal, BBQ and much more. Sometimes I miss the crowds and the chaos of Lahore, my home city. That I can not find here in Vilnius. Like I said, it’s very quiet here.

- Was it a cultural shock for you to come to Vilnius?

- Yes, it was a big cultural shock. Over in Lahore, there are so many people. When I came here to Vilnius, I was struck by the quiet atmosphere here. People here don’t stick their nose in other people’s interests. In my city, everyone asks, “What’s up? What’s happening?”. They want to know about other people and their lives.

Here in Vilnius, people are just too busy working to find time to meddle in other people’s affairs. Many in Lahore like to sit around and drink milk tea. They like to talk and mingle with others. In Vilnius, I see, on the other hand, that people are much more organized, more sophisticated.

- You are an avid photographer. What piqued your interest in photography?

- I learned to take photographs when I was about 15 years old. My uncle taught me. He had a “Nikon” camera. My first photograph was a small, green frog – a colour photograph. Now, I’ve been taking photos for about 5 years. My primary objects of interest are insects and small objects. I’m good at it. It gives me internal peace. I had a small exhibition in my college in Lahore.

- Do you have many international friends at Mykolas Romeris University? From which countries?

- Yes, I have made friends with students from Italy, Georgia, Spain and Armenia. Sometimes I cook for them Chicken “Karahi” with red peppers and “Garam Masala” spices.

- What do you plan to do after graduation?

- After graduation, I want to return to Pakistan. I plan to graduate by 2022. I want to finish Master’s Degree studies in Psychology. I am interested in Forensic Psychology. That would include working with security officials as well as individuals with criminal tendencies. It would be fun studying and working in that field.

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