I started studying at the RSU in the summer semester of 2016 . It was already clear to me during my school days that I would accept a stay abroad in Latvia in order to be able to study human medicine. As a result, I applied relatively early, but wasn’t sure whether I would actually be accepted. During my application process I asked myself a number of questions which, fortunately , were answered very well and in detail by Searchforpublicschools.com.
When I received my confirmation in mid-November, I decided to fly to Riga in December to look around for an apartment . In view of the pre-Christmas season there was almost only stop and go for car traffic at that time, so in retrospect I would rather recommend public transport for this month. It must be said that only a few people do this and of course you can stay in hostels for the first few weeks, but I was very happy to already have an apartment when I started studying.
I think it’s recommended to look for an apartment near the Anatomikum, i.e. in the Quiet Center, as you not only spend a lot of time there, but it is also one of the most beautiful areas , priced accordingly, but with many small, different parks and green spaces. Because there are many consulates (partly guarded) located there, it is probably a safe area, at least that was reported to us by locals. In terms of traffic, I would recommend the location around the National Theater when looking for an apartment. If you fancy ice skating, you should take your ice skates with you when packing your suitcase, There are good opportunities to do this sport in Riga or to visit some gyms. We were able to order the “typical Swedish furniture” without any problems via the Internet (google and order in English by e-mail or telephone) and have them delivered at short notice. There are at least two providers there who, partly from Austria, can deliver almost anything, but at a price about 20% higher than ours. In the meantime I have also installed wifi myself and that in Latvian / Russian. Well, more is possible here than you think .
When I started studying, my year (consisting of around 220 people (70% German) was divided into individual study groups of around 13 people each. With this study group you then have all the practical classes . whether you’d rather join a national or an international group. Since I didn’t really care, I was simply randomly placed in a group that consisted only of Germans because of the high proportion of Germans in my year. You can join the study group after the end If you prefer to join an international group, for example, after the 4 semesters, the study group automatically dissolves and in the clinical part you even have the chance to join a group with Latvians.
I think that medical studies in Latvia, especially in the first 4 semesters, are structured differently than in Germany. Fortunately, the first semester is not too difficult, so that you have time to settle in and get used to the university , especially in the first 6 months . At the RSU, a comparatively large number of intermediate exams and tests are written compared to Germany, which has the positive side effect that the exams (if you have to take them) are not that difficult, as these are actually only repetitions of the intermediate exams.
Most of the teachers, especially in the important subjects such as anatomy or molecular biology, speak very good English. You can understand them well and also ask a lot of questions. I and a few other fellow students had previously been to an English-speaking country to learn the language, which of course made the study easier.
Attendance in the practical classes is compulsory at the RSU. The lectures are optional in themselves, but attendance is also checked in some cases, so that people who have participated in all lectures receive a certain number of points, for example during a test. You usually have to make up for missed practical classes. Admittedly, the Latvian language is not exactly easy to learn, but the language course is feasible. It is difficult to judge whether it will be sufficient to be able to communicate sufficiently later in the clinical part. The International Group and the Latvian students tend to have less contact with each other at the beginning, so that one does not really benefit in terms of language skills. In Riga, if necessary, at least the Latvians speak good English, so that one is not really dependent on the Latvian language. On the other hand, a larger proportion of the population and patients is Russian, and you need Latvian for communication.
Riga is a very beautiful city , besides the many sights in the city and Old Town, the many Art Nouveau houses, the beautiful and modern library. Often people speak English, sometimes even German. Communication is therefore possible . In winter, however, you should consider that it can sometimes be down to -30 degrees. So you should take appropriate clothing with you. By train, it is not far to Jurmela to the sea, which is a nice change, especially in spring, the last part of the train journey is accompanied by a beautiful bike path to the sea. The city also offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and space to recharge your batteries or enjoy a boat trip along the Daugava in the area.
In my opinion, the people are a bit reserved, but clear and helpful, which some might interpret as rudeness. Not only did I have consistently good experiences with the people there , but I also benefited a lot personally from the independence I gained here and also got to know many nice fellow students, including international ones. The more modest standard in some areas is also not a disadvantage, although Riga has a metropolitan character, leaves a rather ambitious and not only linguistically very cosmopolitan impression , especially the younger, Latvian generation.
All in all I can say so far that I am very satisfied with the RSU and can only recommend it ; With its offer, the university has at least significantly shortened the entry into medical studies. Since the small study groups and the support are optimal there , the workload can be managed with sufficient commitment and hard work, even if you are not one of the classic single candidates. Stamina and a seat are still necessary in Riga.