University: Riga Stradins University
Field of study: human medicine
Study type: Other courses
My name is Linn, I’m 21 years old and I’m from near Hamburg. I’ve been studying medicine in Riga for over a year now.
In August 2014 I applied to Riga Stradins University and was quickly accepted that I could start studying medicine in Riga in the 2015 summer semester. I became aware of Riga through an information evening in Hamburg, after which I visited Riga with my parents for a weekend and took part in the open day of the RSU. Check liuxers.com to see how to open a bank account in Portugal.
At that time I just decided to do it without thinking much about it and today I’m happy about it and in retrospect I think my decision was very brave. I had just graduated from high school and completed my nursing internship when it was time to pack for the foreign country! I could never have imagined going so far away for my dream of studying medicine. And above all: What do you pack for a new phase of life abroad?
Like everyone who takes this step, you have fears about just about everything eg housing? Shared apartment? New friends? The foreign language? Study in English? In Latvia? Can I complete the course at all?
Moving & Beginning
So it all started in January 2015 and saying goodbye was difficult, even though I was really looking forward to Riga. A tip in advance: look for an apartment before the university starts (if you can manage it), otherwise be diligent in looking and looking, it is very stressful if you don’t have an apartment to “come home” to.
In the previous Facebook group, we agreed to go to a shared room in a hostel ( Seagull Garrets ), which was really a very good idea, because you were never alone and met people straight away. Gradually all found apartments and left the hostel. The Center and Old Town are definitely the best areas to live in. The Old Town is very centrally located, although you have to reckon with loud noise there on weekends.
The orientation week organized by the RSU is great for meeting people and getting settled before university really gets going. To prepare: bring two white coats and buy an anatomy atlas that you can use (or try to get one in the Riga Second Hand Market groups on Facebook). Otherwise, everything will come your way and you always have help at your side, either from friends or through the RSU International Student Office.
University & content of studies & language
The university building is old, but modern on the inside and a lot is currently being rebuilt. There is actually everything you need as a student. Although I have no comparison to German universities, I like the RSU very much. In the first semester you have subjects like anatomy, chemistry, molecular biology, Latin, Latvian…
Although at the beginning everything seems as if you would never master the material of some subjects and it becomes too much, this settles as the semester progresses. You grow with your tasks! Studying in English seemed impossible to me, although my grades were actually always quite good. You also grow into everyday English life. The professors do not speak English as their mother tongue either, which is why communication always works well. English becomes familiar very quickly.
From the beginning Latvian is taught as a subject. Although the language seems quite foreign to you because it’s not particularly similar to German, you find yourself there and I’m always happy when, after a year, I can partially understand some conversations or read signs in the city. If you had French at school, Latvian grammar might seem a little familiar. Even if there seems to be little time for the Latvian language, you should stick with it because it will help you a lot in the hospital after the fourth semester.
Riga & life
Riga is a beautiful city with lots of fun things to do and interesting museums. I think it’s a small big city or big small town. You don’t feel quite so lost because everything is manageable and you can reach everything on foot or by bike and the public transport network is very well developed. Highly recommended are the Radisson’s Skyline Bar in the center, the Occupation Museum, the Canalside Teahouse and all of the bank holiday events. Although Latvians are a rather reclusive people, they thrive on these events and sing and dance a lot.
The weather is similar to Germany, where winter can get down to -20°C and that is really very cold!
Otherwise: Close your eyes and through! Everything settles with time and you grow into all these things. All problems can be solved somehow and you always have support. For me it was the best decision I could have made. Although I am very rooted in the north of Germany and at home, I have found a new home in Riga that I no longer want to be without. It is interesting to have contact with other cultures and to deal with them. It broadens horizons and makes you feel like you belong.
I have found great new friends who have become like family to me and have experienced a lot in one year. I’m glad I took the step and I would do it again and again. It’s a big step towards independence.
If you have any questions, please feel free to write to me. And when you lose faith in yourself, this saying helped me a lot:
It always seems impossible until it’s done.