University: Riga Stradins University
Field of study: human medicine
Study type: Other courses
If there’s anything that studying here has taught me after five semesters, it’s how to deal with information in a structured way. There’s still a “Work in progress” sign on my forehead, but I’ll try to be brief, summarizing everything I would have wanted to know as a newcomer to Riga. Here is my top 5 Riga list. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see Poland higher education.
- The university
Riga Stradins University ( RSU for short) is a university in transition ! Much is invested in new structures and equipment. At the same time, historical buildings, such as the Anatomical Theater, provide a special flair and have new anatomical models, as well as antique bones and specimens to learn from. As a preclinical student, I envied the future doctors a bit because they will definitely get more modern classrooms, semester after semester.
- The study
The structure of the course is something special: in each subject, two to three colloquia are held over the course of the semesterwritten (yes, written, the word may be deceiving). These are important stages that must be passed in chronological order in order to be admitted to the exam. In some subjects there are also weekly tests, for example in microbiology, which all have to be passed in order to be allowed to write colloquia. What I like about this system is that it forces you to keep learning. This may seem a bit schooly, but it prepares you well for the exams. What makes everything “more exciting” is that you have three attempts per colloquium and if you don’t pass them, the subject is failed. The RSU is very strict: a failed subject means that you have to repeat the semester. Of course, you only have to catch up on the subjects that you failed, which can lead to
Over the course of my pre-clinical studies, I found subjects such as anatomy, histology, genetics, physiology and microbiology to be well structured with a good number of hands-on experiments. What I have to criticize, on the other hand, were the natural science subjects physics, chemistry and biochemistry. There is no shortage of experiments in it, which are carried out weekly, but the knowledge was, in my opinion, a little too superficial, as I have now noticed in pharmacology. Of course you can still understand a lot and current pre-clinicians think that the subjects are stricter now. However, this brings up an important point, namely the evolution of the course itself.Student representatives and faculty often work together and often receive suggestions and improvements. I also experienced a lot myself, e.g. the “Autoexamen”, i.e. if you had a very good average in all colloquia of a subject, you either didn’t have to write a final exam or just take an oral one (the so-called Histo-Olympics are famous and feared!). However, the autoexam is not valid for every subject and has also been abolished in some. The Physics does not exist as such, but consists of the individual exams.
The last point about studying, which often makes up the most pros and cons about the university, are the lecturers. As everywhere, there are good and bad teachers, some made my subjects very interesting, others were terrible, but overall I would say 2/3 were rather positive. As far as language skills are concerned, I regret to say that the RSU is not yet able to only offer lecturers with very good English. This is sometimes a problem for comprehension questions even with well-trained teachers. On the other hand, what is good is that the classes are divided into small classes of a dozen students, so there is always room for questions and understanding. The university, in turn, has been offering English courses for lecturers with language deficits for a year.
Although the majority of German medical students at the RSU want to return after the Physics, many remain in Latvia because they do not get a place. Nevertheless, I am very positively surprised by the fifth semester in Riga! A lot of practice, patient contact and participation in surgeries that gave me a better idea and insight into different disciplines. Of course, the teacher rule from the preclinical center still applies, but my study group was mostly satisfied. Some of the groups are also getting smaller, which in turn allows for a better teacher-student relationship. But the point of language, which I will now discuss, also becomes important here.
- Languages and cultures
The plural is used deliberately. Although many doctors in Riga are of German origin, the course is very diverse. This aspect is highly praised by the university and the international student community and supported with events and meetings. I really like this cosmopolitan environment and it gives a lot of stimuli for extra-curricular activities. But Riga is also multicultural : you can hear both Latvian and Russian on the streets, and many grew up bilingual, even if Russian is not an official second language. Of course, patients (mainly older people) speak little or no English and sometimes only Russian. This is a barrier to good communication and care management.RSU offers a Latvian course up to the third semester, but very few have benefited from it, mostly because preclinical subjects give priority to science subjects. In my case, I’ll admit that a bit of laziness was involved as well; That’s why I’ve been attending an extra language course for a semester. Many friends do the same with Latvian or Russian. Of course, the teachers help with communication and you can get along well with English in everyday life, but it’s nicer to live in a country where you don’t feel like a “tourist”. Therefore, I can only recommend taking the time for this foreign language, which gives you new insights into the culture and traditions of the Latvians, which at first glance can seem cold and reserved.
It would be impossible to describe medical studies at RSU without including Riga! Since European City of Culture in 2014 and EU Presidency in 2015, Riga is becoming more and more popular as a travel destination and rightly so! Student life is very pleasant and, as already mentioned, intercultural! As a big city kid, I thought I would get bored after a short time, but now I love the spontaneity with which you can do everything, since most destinations can be reached quickly and easily by bus, bike or on footare. Summer brings out Latvia’s love of color and flowers, and the climate is ideal for sitting outside with a coffee and getting your fill of vitamin D while studying! Jurmala, Riga’s beach on the Baltic Sea, is only thirty minutes away, perfect for just half a day’s relaxation. Of course, the long and cold winter is daunting, but it has its charm when everything is covered with a white coat. In addition, the Latvians light up the city with various street festivals.
This in “a few words” is my impression of studying in Riga, a decision that I do not regret and would easily make again, although I was skeptical at the beginning! Of course there are many things I would improve, but that’s part of every life and course.