University: Riga Stradins University
Field of study: medicine
Study type: Other courses
Study in Riga?
Where is that and what language do you speak there? How are the people and what is their mentality? Is the city safe?
I asked myself all these questions almost a year ago when I found out that you can also study medicine in the capital of Latvia, Riga. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see 7 best cities to study in Belgium.
Without any great alternatives and without any experience or previous knowledge, I threw myself into the adventure and very quickly found the answers to my questions.
In mid-January 2011, the plane took me to unknown Riga. Everything was white, covered by a meter-high blanket of snow. And freezing. It’s probably no exaggeration when people say it gets down to -30°C in winter. And the winter is long… (After a while though, you get used to the cold, slick, and icy winds – hat, scarf, gloves, etc. are a must!)
For starters, I stayed in the Green Apple. A kind of hostel in the hotel – right in Old Town. Because most of the students are quartered there for the first few weeks, you can quickly make contacts and get to know your fellow students while living, cooking, partying and studying together. A sense of community quickly developed and I felt very comfortable. Absolutely to suggest.
After a few weeks of acclimatization, small groups quickly form and form a flat share, ie move into their own four walls. Finding accommodation in Riga is not particularly difficult, as there is a wide range and the prices are reasonable compared to student cities in Germany.
Now to the university. There are two main buildings for the medical students. On the one hand the university itself and on the other hand the Anatomikum, in which anatomy, cell biology and histology are taught. The university is a bit out of the way, on the other side of the river. By western standards, the building looks a bit bizarre at first glance, but the friendliness of the university staff will soon make you feel at home and you shouldn’t be intimidated.
I found it took a little getting used to the fact that Latvian is the main language spoken there. So if you want to leave your jacket in the cloakroom, order food in the canteen or need any information from the information desk, office or library, you have to be prepared to communicate with your hands and feet. [Since the problem also occurs in normal everyday life, for example in the supermarket etc., you quickly get used to it and soon know how to help yourself.]
The international office or Dean’s Office and the professors speak English, of course.
The course itself is, in my opinion, very well designed and structured. You are divided into small groups of max. 12 students. This creates a good, effective learning atmosphere and the relationship between student and professor is much more personal than at German universities. Due to the weekly tests in most subjects, you always have a lot to learn and there is hardly any break from studying, but you stay on the ball and at the end of the semester, if you have always studied conscientiously for these tests, no longer to learn so much for the exams, but actually only to repeat.
The same applies to the “colloquia”, of which 2-3 are written per subject per semester. These are larger or more comprehensive tests. It is important to know that you can only repeat this once, but you have to pass it in order to be admitted to the final exam. If you can do that or fail the final exam, you have failed the course. Since this year there has been a new regulation at the university that you will not be transferred to the next semester if you fail a course! So you would have to do one course – alone – in the next semester. (Don’t worry, if you divide up a bit and study conscientiously, you can meet all requirements and master the courses well!)
In addition to learning, Riga naturally also offers everything in terms of “leisure activities” that German cities also have: A beautiful old town with many pubs and bars, large clubs for partying, shopping malls and Jurmala, a city not far away with a beach right on the Baltic Sea. Although the discrepancy between rich and poor clearly shows that Riga has suffered from the economic crisis, the city makes a very young and dynamic impression on me.
I personally like it very much in Riga. I am glad that I decided to take this opportunity and that I can pursue my dream of studying medicine.