University: Riga Stradins University
Field of study: medicine
Study type: Other courses
My name is Jasper, I’m 20 years old and I’ve been studying medicine at Riga Stradins University (RSU) for half a year. In my report, I will focus on the study conditions and the study content. But first, a little about life in Riga as an international student. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see 5 best Berlin neighborhoods to see students.
The RSU provides international students with competent starting helpers: older students who act
as buddies when starting out in a foreign city where Latvian and Russian are spoken are on hand
with advice and action from day one. You won’t be
thrown in at the deep end either, but have the opportunity
to get to know the new environment during the orientation week. However, it is advisable to take care of organizational matters during this time:
- account opening
- Buy a Latvian mobile phone card (supplier doesn’t really matter; all comparatively cheap)
- Get books (in the first semester you only have to buy an anatomy atlas with Latin nomenclature and the green RSU anatomy book; everything else is provided by the university)
- find a permanent place to stay; The site “ss.lv” – the largest Latvian classifieds site – is a great help.
If you do these things at the beginning, you will have more time later for your studies. It takes a
few weeks to settle into the city. The RSU also helps during the semester.
The “cross cultural relations” course promotes an understanding of the culture, history and
self-image of the Latvians. This includes, for example, the following view: “We live in
a small country that many people hardly know, let alone have any idea of where it
is. Consequently, we are nobody; nevertheless we are proud to be Latvians”. As paradoxical as it sounds, it
hits the nail on the head.
A second important point is the suffering of the Latvians during the occupation by
the Soviet Union. Consider: When our grandparents started
to rebuild the destroyed cities after the Second World War, Latvia was occupied, politically and economically
an unimaginable period of suffering began for the Latvian population. And this continued until
Latvia became independent a little over 20 years ago.
Of course it is important to learn Latvian. It is part of the curriculum of
medical studies at RSU. If you speak Latvian, shopping at the market will be
cheaper. As soon as you speak English, people try to make a profit out of it.
Any homesickness will also improve, since the country is suddenly opening up: Latvians are very happy
if you speak to them in their language as a foreigner. They often reply in English,
but much friendlier than if spoken to directly in English. Another
The curriculum of the medical subjects is comparable to the German course.
Anatomy and molecular biology are the most labor intensive subjects.
You should work continuously in both subjects right from the start. There are both lectures and practical
lessons in small groups (the so-called “classes”) with eight to twelve students. Knowledge is checked at regular intervals in the
form of colloquia and tests.
You can write tests until you pass; if you fail a colloquium twice, you have to
repeat the whole semester. Regardless of whether you pass the next colloquia.
The English of the lecturers is understandable, but not particularly good. The technical vocabulary
master them, which I think is crucial.
Towards the end of the semester there are exams in some subjects. The three main exams are in
anatomy, cell biology and chemistry.
In pre-clinical studies, many students lack the connection to medicine, since basic algae are taught in subjects such as
chemistry, mathematics, biology and physics.
What I really liked about RSU is that, especially in the subject of molecular biology, the way the body functions is
illustrated using pathologies. In subjects like ethics and medical law, you have to
put yourself in the role of a doctor when topics like euthanasia are discussed.
For German students, the hoped-for change after the “Physikum” is always an important point. After the first two years, it is often only possible to file a lawsuit. I
am no longer under any illusions about getting a clinical place in Germany
and am preparing for 6 years of study in Latvia, which I am really looking forward to. So
far I have really enjoyed my studies; a colorful and inexpensive cultural offer makes it
easy to balance learning. Compared to my fellow students in Germany, my
standard of living is high thanks to my inexpensive and beautiful apartment.
It only takes me half an hour to get to the next windsurfing spot. Many homesick people sometimes forget:
The grass is not always greener on the other side.
Anyone who can should apply to the RSU. The RSU is already maxing out its capacity and
will soon have to turn down more applicants. Student numbers have exploded in recent years
and the trend is rising.
In addition, the RSU is currently continuously investing in new laboratory material, is renovating
the listed Anatomikum and has just opened a new cafeteria.
I am definitely looking forward to the next semesters in a great city, as a student in
my dream subject of medicine, and I wish all applicants every success!