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Interview with Aleksi: the University of Latvia is perfect option for medical students

The University of Latvia is a respected university that offers programs in General medicine and Dental medicine in the English language. There is an international environment where students from Finland, the Middle East, or Asia study internationally recognized programs of General medicine and Dental medicine. Aleksi is a student from Tampere, Finland, who shared his experience with his studies at the University of Latvia. You will get useful information regarding the application process, quality of studies, the hardest exams, and accommodation facilities in Riga.

Thank you for accepting our invitation to the interview. Can you please tell us something about you and where you study?

Hi, I’m Aleksi, 23 years old and I’m from Tampere. At the moment I am studying Medicine in English, at the University of Latvia (LU) in Riga, Latvia in the capital in my second year.

Why did you decide to apply to the University of Latvia and study your medical education in Riga?

I knew that I didn’t want to spend time applying for medicine in Finland because it would take a lot of time and I could use the same time by studying for my degree in other parts of Europe. I ended up applying to LU after researching a lot of Medicines in Europe and I had heard many good things about LU. There are many great medical universities in Europe, but I ended up at LU, as there are good air connections there from Tampere or Helsinki. The lowest rate I can fly to Helsinki is 10 euros. Latvia has two English-speaking medical schools: the University of Latvia (LU) and Riga Stradins University (RSU). I chose LU because the university seemed newer and it was a bit cheaper than RSU. I have always been interested in medical sciences and I have completed an authorized personal trainer education. After that, I wanted to study even more, and Medicine felt right as an option.

Will a degree from Latvia be accepted in Finland after graduation?

I will be returning to Finland after completing my degree. The degree is accepted by Valvira and through it, you get permission to pursue studies in Finland after.

Can you tell us about the application process and share tips on how to get accepted?

I think applying to LU was quite simple in the end and I always got help from the school if necessary for searching. I submitted the required documents (High School Certificate with Cum laude approbatur as a minimum). After that, the university awards scores according to high school grades for Biology (40% of final evaluation), Chemistry (40%) and English language (20%), or alternatively Science subjects (80%), English (20%) if the student did not study chemistry or biology. Subsequently, I had an interview remotely, where we talked about why I was interested in medicine, how I’m going to pay for the tuition fees, and other things related to motivation mostly. My school certificates had to be translated by a translator and then sent to the school, as I recall I paid almost 100 euros for the translator. I recommend starting the application process as soon as possible, because I got quite busy at the end, getting all the necessary documents in time before the last day. What I liked most about the search was that there are no entrance exams at LU, unlike many other universities abroad.

What degrees does your university offer to international students and how much are the tuition fees?

LU offers many different opportunities to study in English, such as for example business, dentistry, or General medicine. The prices of the studies vary from program to program, for example, a Business degree costs around 3000 euros per year & Medicine costs around 10,000 euros per year.

How would you rank the quality of education at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Latvia?

I think the teachers are nice and competent. I would say that it came as a surprise how teachers & professors are respected here much more than in Finland. Of course, just like in Finland, some teachers are nicer than others, but generally, the quality of the teaching is really good and you get along well with the professors.

What were the easiest and hardest subjects for you so far?

I think the easiest subject was the History of Medicine because it didn’t require much studying and the subjects were quite simple. The most difficult subject for me has definitely been Histology, probably due to the fact that I don’t realize at the beginning how difficult Histology is as a subject. With histology, I have definitely had to spend the most time on other subjects compared to others.

What are the University of Latvia facilities and lecture halls like?

Most of the classes are in the University’s new building, which looks really new and in good shape. The university has a library in two different buildings, the main building and the downtown. In general, the main building, where most of the lectures and classes are held, has been open 24/7, but due to the electricity crisis, the school has closed in the evenings. The school also has a canteen where you can eat really good food for around 4-6 euros, of course, there is too snack machines where you can grab something small to take with you to a lecture, for example. Some classes are arranged remotely, such as anatomy lectures are remote and then practical lessons in class, where the subjects of the subject are physically reviewed.

Are there any associations or organizations for international students?

In Latvia, there is a Finnish organization for students from Finland, Rislo, which organizes various events throughout the academic year. Registering for the organization is easy and pays about 20 euro per academic year.

Where are your classmates from?

My class is quite international, we have people from Finland, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. There are a total of 4 classes for international students of Medicine and group sizes are about 15 people per class.

What kind of housing options are there and how to find an apartment?

There are many different options for where to live in Riga. A new student dormitory Shed has opened opposite the main university building, which is in good condition and convenient. You can apply for a room from the dormitory’s website, rooms pay between 450-600 euros, including water, electricity, and other expenses. The university also offers dormitories in addition to the Shed, but from what I’ve seen and heard, they are not better. However, many students rent an apartment from the www.ss.lv website, which is a bit like tori.fi in Finland. In Latvia, you should keep in mind when you rent an apartment that the rent price usually does not include “Utilities” which includes electricity, water, and heating. If you rent an apartment in the city center, depending on the size of the apartment, you will pay in total of 400-700 euro. You should always ask the landlord for the previous tenant’s “Utility bills” so you can see how a lot of extras will be added to the rental price. With many landlords, you can ask for a video of the apartment, for example, so you don’t have to rent an apartment without having seen the apartment properly. Even after the first year, many move in a group of 2-3 people to a bigger apartment, which is often cheaper than renting an apartment alone in the center.

From the links below, you can visit different options for rental apartments and dormitories:

Riga


https://www.ss.lv/lv/real-estate/flats/riga/ https://youthments.com/

What kind of budget is good to cover study expenses in Latvia?

The cost of living in Latvia is slightly lower than in Finland. Most of the school materials are online, so you don’t spend a lot of money on books and the library can be found if you want additional materials. I haven’t had to buy any books myself yet. Food is cheaper, for example, eating out costs 5-12 euros depending on whether you go for a kebab or not in a slightly nicer place. Food costs around 200-400e per month plus eating out. About 15 euros per month is spent on travel expenses. In short, you can get by with very little here, but it always depends a little on how you spend the money in the finals.

What kinds of activities are there for students?

The university offers many different activities, such as football, basketball, etc. You can check the links to get a full idea: https://www.lu.lv/en/sports/about-us/about-ul-sport-center/#:~:text=The%20UL%20Sports% 20Center%20(SC,%2C%20volleyball%2C%20skiing%20and%20frisbee.

In Riga, you can practically do anything you do in Finland, e.g. fitness there are many gyms for 15-30e/month. It is also easy to leave Riga, for example, for a day trip to Tallinn or to explore Latvia to other cities by bus, which will cost tens of euros.

Would you recommend others to apply to your university?

I do recommend everyone who is interested in studying to apply to LU abroad. The professors are qualified and the quality of the education is very good. Well welcome!

What are the career opportunities after graduation?

After completing the degree, it is possible to work, for example, in health centers or hospitals, and if you want to specialize in Finland.

Thank you for your insight and tips for potential students. We wish you best of luck with your studies and many successful exams or credit tests at the University of Latvia.