University: Riga Stradins University
Field of study: human medicine
Study type: Other courses
In the middle of the cold winter, already on the way from the airport, it becomes clear that I am encountering a different world here in Riga. The gray in gray of the Latvian capital Riga is immediately apparent to me. But the old town also shines in winter with its “Eastern charm” and sets itself apart from the communist suburbs. Check toppharmacyschools.org to see Canada higher education.
It’s cold and it’s all pretty exciting. Luckily, I’ve often been abroad alone for a long time, so I informed myself well in advance from MicroEdu (thanks again to Annika Uhlig, who was always supportive and helpful) and Maris Ginter. I have also already made contact with a future fellow student – so I’m not entirely on my own. His mother, who speaks fluent Russian, initially helps us to organize all important matters. In addition, my “buddy”, Julia, had already contacted me a few days before my departure and was open to any questions for the first few days and was there immediately if there were any problems. It was also helpful that the majority of the prospective freshmen had already organized themselves via an online community. Useful information was exchanged, experiences and tips posted and, last but not least, some rented the “Green Apple” to start with. The 3rd floor of the “Hotel Riga”, a venerable old hotel in the center of the city, became a common meeting place from day one. It was a good way to get to know everyone who was going to be there and in a way it really bonded our semester. The Green Apple was okay for this first “orientation period”, but there – as everywhere in Latvia – the motto is: increasingly provide less service, but ask for more money for it! Due to some changes in the Green Apple in the last few weeks and many nerve-wracking discussions with the management, it is definitely no longer recommended.
If you are looking for an apartment, you should first go there. In contrast to Germany, Riga offers the privilege of being able to choose who you want to live with and the rents are a bit cheaper than in Germany even in the middle of the city (the cost of living is often a bit more expensive). You can search on the Internet, through contacts with higher semesters or with the help of an agency – but be careful: normally the future tenant does not pay any commission, but as soon as the landlord or real estate agent knows that you are a foreigner, the prices are higher and commission is often charged.
We looked at apartments, rooms and shacks. The quality and price differences are not to be despised. It is advisable to take your time with the “roommate constellation”. Furthermore, some live in the hostel for the whole semester
– it’s a matter of getting used to it, only the ERASMUS students there are constantly partying and that’s not easy when you’re supposed to be studying. My future roommates and I were very indecisive and canceled a lot. But this fact was worth it in the end, because we got a great apartment in the middle of the city for a good price.
The center of Riga is divided into an old and a new part. The old city center enchants with its countless Art Nouveau buildings, is always clean and actually I never felt unsafe during the day or at night. In the city center it is the same as in every larger city in Germany: fast food outlets, shops, restaurants – that somehow conveys a feeling of “home”. It is pleasant that all shops are often open 7 days a week until 9.30 p.m. Outside the city center, however, there are masses of modern buildings that tell of a less glamorous past. In winter, the country and people seem very dreary. It doesn’t get really bright, it’s cold and it certainly takes some getting used to at first.
As with countless other things during medical school, the motto here must apply: just don’t give up, it will work out somehow! With the first rays of sunshine, the mood lifts noticeably, it’s blooming and green everywhere, the parks are beautifully landscaped and the men’s hormones seem to be going crazy : -) – with the many hot women!
Some people in Riga speak German. Although Latvian is the official language, Russian is still the dominant language. Most of the younger Latvians can speak English, so it’s easy to get along. Due to the large number of German fellow students, there is very little contact with the locals anyway. Sometimes I think it’s really a shame that we mainly speak German and that even English is rarely used.
When I first sat down with my fellow students in the “Double Coffee” I was surprised. There was indeed a free WiFi connection. But after a few months in Latvia I now know: here you can surf the Internet almost everywhere and usually without paying. Germany is really years behind.
Cooperation was a top priority right from the start and I found real friends in Riga, without whom it wouldn’t be half as nice there and whom I really wouldn’t want to miss. There is a certain sense of togetherness among the international students, which I think is great – the regular learning, the living situation, etc. weld together. Sometimes all that learning is annoying, sometimes because there is hardly any opportunity to make contact with the locals. After all, you live in the largest city in Latvia, but you actually only have contact with ten to thirty people. There are days when you can feel lonely just because of that.
There is a lot to see and do in Riga, so that students can get their money’s worth in this regard. In recent years, Riga has blossomed into a veritable kaleidoscope of pubs, clubs, theatres, discos, culture, music and exhibitions. Partying is possible around the clock, seven days a week and you quickly get a sense
of where it is recommended. You almost always meet fellow students there and the joint parties are legendary. There isn’t much time for this during the semester, but you can still enjoy it from time to time. A little break in the park or a trip to the Baltic Sea beach in Jurmala is simply good for the soul and everyone needs it!
My first impression of the university, which is a bit outside of the city center, was rather sobering. In winter, the university building is a bit daunting, especially if you are used to German university conditions like me.
First of all, keep calm: Everything can get better!
With the help of the employees of the international student office of the RSU, who speak very good English and partly German, all the necessary documents are organized right at the beginning and you get an initial orientation. In addition, Julia (my “buddy”) is always on hand with help and advice and the exchange with fellow students is motivating.
You quickly get used to everyday student life there and as soon as it gets warmer, the building doesn’t look so bad anymore. Lectures take place not only in the main building, but also in other buildings and other places in the Riga district – don’t worry – actually you rarely ride the tram or bus alone and in the end everyone always arrives at some point. The lectures should actually all be in English, but it quickly became clear that not every professor is really fluent in the English language. Nonetheless, everyone passed the relevant subjects. Even chemistry with the “model scientist” of the RSU is feasible.
The only strenuous thing is that you have to acquire a lot of knowledge yourself and it is sometimes difficult to find people to whom you can ask technical questions. The school system in Latvia also bothers me a bit – but as the saying goes: “different countries, different customs.”
In addition, I can say from experience from my first degree in Germany that you will only notice how you have benefited from studying in Latvia when you are back in Germany. Independence, perseverance, poring over subject catalogs that describe the learning goals, literature research, respect for the professors or appearing in a suit for exams is now a matter of course for us, but it is different in Germany!
As for the cost…
Sometimes I ask myself why I pay so much money in tuition fees. The answer: compared to Germany, some of the teaching takes place in small groups and the relationship with the professors is closer. There are no overcrowded lecture halls and anonymous lectures here.
The RSU does not have a “real” library like we are used to in German universities, but the University of Latvia does. However, most of the books are in Russian and
thus less useful. There are therefore additional costs for literature, which are not insignificant. Beforehand you should get a good anatomy atlas with Latin nomenclature and an understandable biology book. Additional books can either be obtained or ordered in Riga. The reading recommendations of the RSU are not suitable for every student and other books may be better for you. Most of the time people learn together anyway and thus complement each other’s literature.
In Latvia, changes in the curriculum for medical students have recently been introduced. As a result of these changes, the course of study as a whole is recognized in Germany and throughout the EU, but the equivalent recognition of the physical education program in Germany is becoming difficult. Everyone who starts now should be aware that a move to Germany will be difficult and only possible with considerable effort / possibly suing. With a lot of energy and nervous effort, our year group managed to get the additional courses that are now required for the equivalent recognition of the physical education in Germany taught as extra subjects. This results in additional costs that are not covered by the tuition fees!
To the end….
Yay, finally summer and then no more freshmen! The semester flew by and I was in the middle of medical school faster than I expected. Every beginning is difficult – just don’t get discouraged and always try to keep calm! Amplius – Next!