University: Riga Stradins University
Field of study: human medicine
Study type: Other courses
My decision to study medicine abroad in Riga was more or less spontaneous. In contrast to many others, the prospect of studying abroad was not at all a deterrent, except for the question of money it was even preferable to studying in Germany. Before starting my studies in Riga, I studied “Liberal Arts and Sciences” in Freiburg for a year, so I know German student life very well. I really enjoyed living in Freiburg, except that I had doubts about my choice of study program. So I finally decided to study medicine. Since I wasn’t admitted to Germany right away, I started looking for alternatives that wouldn’t cost me any more “wasted” time. Studying abroad seemed like a good way to pursue my desired course without delay. Check liuxers.com to see how to open a bank account in Australia.
I looked for alternatives abroad, which was facilitated by MicroEdu. So this is where I found Riga Stradins University. The application process was a bit complicated, but easily manageable with the existing instructions. I would definitely have MicroEdu proofread the application again, careless mistakes always happen and it was important to submit your application as early as possible as this increased the chance of acceptance.
After a week of looking for an apartment, which led me to share a flat with girls from higher semesters, we started. However, most of the others in the semester looked for flat shares together with fellow students by founding new apartments.
My most important courses in the first semester included Anatomy, Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Latvian, Latin, First Aid, History of Medicine and Bioethics, plus an elective course. Particular emphasis was placed on anatomy and molecular biology.
The support from the university in dealing with formalities on site was very good, everything was explained in detail. The lectures in the individual subjects are not so good, the professors speak English to varying degrees and I often use the lectures mainly to see which topics I have to learn to what extent and with which focal points, so that I can then work through the material independently. The seminars of the individual subjects are more helpful. You are a little less flexible than in Germany, since you rarely have holidays and a lot of compulsory attendance classes.
In general, the first semester still leaves enough time for activities, such as a trip to Jurmala to see the sea (warm enough in summer to swim, cold in winter, but when the temperature is below zero it freezes in waves and is definitely worth a visit!), paintball, lasertack & bowling on the university side of the Daugava, Rundale Palace (1h bus). Plus, if you have the will and the means, you can take a trip to Tallinn or Stockholm on a weekend.;) In addition, of course, it is important to explore the old town, which is really beautiful and pleasantly surprised most of us. In winter it is definitely too cold to enjoy them extensively, we easily get to -10, -15 degrees. But from -5 it all feels about the same cold: freezing cold!
The social life among the students has been very good so far, everyone is in the same situation and you get to know each other well. I find it a bit disappointing that it is difficult to really get in touch with the Latvians and to learn the language. I got a Latvian “buddy” organized through the university, with whom I’m still good friends and who got to know Latvian culture a little bit. But it’s not made easy for you to fully integrate into Latvian life, I’m still working on it. Latvians tend not to be particularly bold when it comes to getting to know one another, but once you’ve won their affection, it’s not difficult to get along well. As a nation, Latvians tend to be reserved, quiet, and down-to-earth.
In summary, I would recommend anyone looking for a bit of independence and new experiences with lesser-known cultures to come here. Sometimes you need a thick skin for initial loneliness and distance from familiar surroundings. An open eye for the world and new people is both a good prerequisite and a result of studying abroad and I am very happy to be studying in Riga.