University: Riga Stradins University
Field of study: medicine
Study type: Other courses
Dear interested in studying medicine in Riga,
My name is Valentina and I am now completing the first semester of my medical studies in Riga. I’m sure you’re wondering how I ended up in Riga, I ask myself that all the time, but what I do know for sure is that it was definitely the right decision. Actually, it was my father who wrote to MicroEdu to find out more about studying medicine abroad. At the time, I still had plans to take a break after high school. However, my father was pestering me about the application for Riga at MicroEdu for so long that I handed in my completed application portfolio in Münster shortly before. The application was made relatively quickly, since 1. Everything was translated and it was explained exactly what had to be filled out, how and where, and 2.
Now it was time to wait…
When I actually got an offer from Riga or MicroEdu about six weeks later, I no longer knew what to expect and whether I should be happy or not. Check toppharmacyschools.org to see Swinburne University of Technology study abroad opportunities.
Of course I was very happy about the acceptance, but I couldn’t imagine what Riga would be like. All I knew about Riga and Latvia up to that point was that it was close to Russia, in the Baltics, and I wouldn’t understand anyone there. I didn’t even know what to pack, what I would need there and the fact that the cheapest plane with Ryanair (where the weight is weighed to the gram) didn’t make it any easier either. What was very practical and helpful was the Facebook group organized by MicroEdu (where you could exchange a lot of information etc with your new fellow students), offers for apartments in Riga and a lot of other useful information.
The pleasant thing was that you got to know nice people in advance and realized that you would not be making the long journey to the Baltic States alone, but with many fellow fighters who ultimately felt the same way as I did.
So I just flew off at random with a colorfully packed suitcase without a faint idea what exactly would await me when I landed.
What awaited me on the runway looking out the window was nothing. The weather outside was so bad that you could hardly see your hand in front of your face, and that was at the end of August(!).
But already at the baggage carousel you got to know the first people, a bit shy and embarrassed you talked here and there about typical topics like graduation, relationship at home, where you come from etc..
The second impression had confirmed my prejudice about Latvia again, the bus that was supposed to pick us all up and take us to the hotels was much too late due to the bad weather. However, when the bus finally made it to the airport (one of the smallest airports I have ever seen), we were all loaded onto the bus and taken to our hotels. On the trip, my 3rd prejudice was confirmed, old communist low-rise buildings everywhere and basically bad weather.
When I finally got to the hotel (which is out of the way in a not so good area near the airport) so was the view from the window (a typical Eastern European backyard like something out of a bad movie), the squeaky bed and the thin cardboard walls no bright spot.
Gradually, more fellow students arrived there and it was decided to go to the old town to change money (Euros to Lats).
When I got there, I was really pleasantly surprised. Riga has an old town that you don’t see too often in Germany anymore. Art Nouveau buildings wherever you look and a river flows idyllically right through them. All streets with cobblestones and small shops here and there.
In the late evening we met a lot of other people from our new semester in the Rock Cafe, where we were able to enjoy the Latvian beer for the first time, which we then drank for the rest of the introductory week in the evening. The introductory week at the university was the quietest and at the same time the most stressful time: new names every day, meeting new nice people, partying every evening to meet even more people, going back to the university and its study group during the day (like a class consisting of 9th -12 people from all sorts of nations with whom you always have every lesson together) and and and…
But you also had to be aware that you now live in Latvia and so the battle for new apartments, founding flat shares, opening a bank account (Swedbank is recommended), getting a cell phone card, going to the immigration office, etc. started.
A completely new feeling for me, having to organize everything without my parents, which was a challenge, but one that was manageable.
Now you had to understand the course, what is going on and how it is required, but over time this was actually quite clear. The only challenge at the beginning was speaking English continuously, but that wasn’t another problem.
After almost three weeks, the first few weeks at university and a very nice introductory week, I finally found an apartment. In the beginning I was a bit skeptical about moving in with 5 other girls from the 3rd semester, after I lived in a house with 30 girls at the boarding school, it seemed easy to me. And I have to say I haven’t regretted it once!
As a balance to the strenuous university weeks and learning (which is often mastered in small groups), there were always house parties in flat shares at the weekend. The nice thing about the study groups is that you are with so many people from different nations, and since the study group is actually your closest circle of friends, since you see them every day, you get to know more people from their nations and that’s why it’s basically a colorful mess.
Throughout September the weather in Riga was beautiful (nicer than in Germany), which made it easy to use sunny Saturdays or Sundays to go to Jurmala, the nearby beach/bathing resort.
However, when it got colder, at least overnight it got really cold and Riga turned into a beautiful winter wonderland.
When I was back home for Christmas, all my friends naturally asked me how Riga was etc..
All I can say is that Riga is beautiful and I already miss it after two weeks at home for the Christmas holidays. A small capital, with an amazing story, uniquely nice fellow students, the seasons are still there, and yet somewhere a small cosmopolitan city.
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.