University: Riga Stradins University
Field of study: human medicine
Study type: Other courses
I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my flat share, the apartment is on the 5th floor, so I can look out the window and see the snow on the roofs of Riga, with a church tower in the middle. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see cost of living in Lisbon.
For the first time I’m sitting on the other side, because a few months ago I was sitting at my computer like one of you and reading through some testimonials. Ultimately, everything I read was just stories to me, nothing really tangible. Who is studying in Riga and where exactly is that again? What language(s) do they speak there?
I’m Franz (24 & in the 2nd semester), paramedic, started my apprenticeship right after graduating from high school and then worked for a year and a half in the public rescue service. I have always enjoyed my work, no day was like the other and the work was usually more of a craft, for which you could of course use a little medical sensitivity; actually a perfect combination for me, but something was missing.
There were several reasons for me to leave Germany and shift my life to become a doctor.
As with many others, a key reason was my high school diploma. Actually a good Abitur but still not good enough to study in Germany.
In addition, I had already spent a lot of time abroad during my school days, even when I was on vacation I always wanted to be away from home, but never for more than half a year. The excitement of something new and extraordinary was suddenly there again.
So the considerations with subsequent applications regarding studying abroad started, but actually only Riga was suddenly interesting for me. Study medicine in English in the Latvian capital Riga, less than two hours by plane from Hamburg, the city is also on the water, in 2014 it will be the Capital of Culture, many positive reviews from students…
Long story short, I got accepted, quit my job, quit the football club, left family and friends behind, gave up my apartment, garaged my motorcycle… all to go to medical school without knowing how long you would stay here.
So far it was the best decision for me!!!
My friends and family visit me, I do sports here, my motorbike is waiting for me until summer and I’m studying medicine. Of course I still miss a lot, but what is really important to you stays. In addition, there is a lot that was previously unknown that you experience here.
The first few weeks in particular went haywire. Looking for a place to live, orientation week with quite a few “night hikes”, Unistart, registration here, registration there, forgot this and that in Germany, lost my wallet and and and… I’m still alive, and not badly, very well in fact.
Riga is a great city. Especially in the city center there are of course many small bars, restaurants, clubs, shopping centers, but also around it you can live very well and secondly you can always get to the old town in less than 10 minutes.
However, the further you get away from the core, the more uncomfortable it becomes. I admit that I let myself be blinded by the center too often, because poverty is definitely a big issue in Latvia. If you go only 3-4km away from the core, you will find crumbled concrete blocks, towels, blankets, boards nailed in front of windows and doors, broken roads, homeless people. It seemed dead to me there. A week ago a child came to me to beg; but that is not the rule.
Unfortunately, there is hardly any contact with Latvians. At the university you are mainly among international students (because you share courses and lectures with them), on the weekends you like to go out, of course also with your fellow students, you rarely really talk to Latvians, and I’m not the only one. This doesn’t make learning the language, which is difficult anyway, any easier. In addition, the proportion of the Russian population is very large and the elderly in particular often only speak broken Latvian and no English.
A lot of things have become more expensive here since the euro, which hopefully won’t stab the country in the back too much. For example, a beer in a pub popular with students no longer costs 1.20LVL/1.70€ but 2.50€. And that’s the case here with most prices.
I like the university. There are still some old corners, but a lot has already been renewed.
What bothers me, however, is the sometimes really bad communication between students, professors and the International Students Department. Sometimes you don’t know your exam dates, the timetable is changed without the knowledge of the students, materials are not made available or are made available too late, you sometimes don’t notice important decisions, if you have a really important request, nobody can be reached. Unfortunately, when it comes to this, you are often on your own. You still get everything somehow, no question.
I was actually worried the most before I started. But you’re not thrown in at the deep end, no one falls by the wayside, but if you’re lazy, it’s your own fault; nobody needs a lazy doctor.
You don’t need to worry too much about studying. Because you have considered beforehand whether you really want to study medicine. Nobody should study medicine without motivation. It’s not important what you do, but how you do it.
Life is special, has good and bad sides. If you’re open-minded, able to detach yourself from home, and answer “no” to the question of whether there’s anything standing in your way of becoming a doctor, then don’t hesitate any longer. You don’t just get involved in studying medicine here, you go to a new city, to a new country, among new people and get to know a completely different life.