Student's story: Cool on the outside but warm on the inside
When I started looking for photos of the universities and the cities I would like to live in, I immediately fell in love with Riga after I saw pictures of it, particularly photos during winter. I immediately knew that this is a place I must visit.
My name is Martin Hanemann, I’m 21 years old and I come from Hövelhof, a small town near Paderborn in Germany. I’ve been in Latvia for about a month now and will stay here till shortly before Christmas.
Latvia has a more flexible university
In Germany I study Business Informatics at the “FHDW”. Business Informatics is a combination of Business Administration and Information Technology. I do so in a dual system, so I visit the university for 3 months and then work at my partner company Benteler for 3 months. At Turība I study Business Administration. I have fewer courses, which gives me more time to explore and learn about Latvia and Riga.
The FHDW and Turība are similar in some respects, for example in both cases the groups are kept rather small. Because of that the students can have a more interactive learning experience, and everyone has the possibility to participate in the classes.
One of the differences is that the learning process is provided in a hybrid form at Turība. If you feel unwell or cannot visit the University for any reason you can simply log in online and take part in the class online.
I like Turība very much. It felt like a nice place to learn and to stay for a longer time immediately after I visited for the first time. Personally, I see Turība as an amazing university where the professors put in a lot of heart and effort to teach students.
Latvians are polite
Going to Latvia I did not have that many expectations to begin with. I was just very happy simply because everything about the exchange program worked out and that I could finally travel again. One thing I read about Latvians was, that they can be quite cold sometimes, as in if you smile at them in the supermarket or in a restaurant, they will give you the cold shoulder. In reality, it’s not like that at all. In restaurants they are always very polite and just seem happy that you are there. And the Latvians I got to know a little better opened up very quickly and we had a lot of fun doing various activities together.
Even though the climate of Latvia is very similar to that in Germany, it does feel a little bit colder over here, however, I love cold weather.
I also like the historical part of Riga, as well as all the parks available. If you go for a walk, there’s always something new to explore – a beautiful old building with an interesting history just around the corner or simply a cozy looking restaurant.
A difference between Germany and Latvia I noticed immediately is that in Germany nearly all stores except bakeries and restaurants are closed on Sundays. It’s nice to be able to go grocery shopping on a Sunday for once. Another difference when grocery shopping are the self-checkouts – they are rare in Germany, at least where I come from. It’s interesting to be able to check out your groceries yourself and I think I like it more than standing in queue and having to stressfully put all the items into your bag because the cashier is very fast with scanning everything.
Puree in Latvia and Germany
Coming from a more rural area in Germany I’m not that used to many old buildings in the city center and it’s actually my first time living in an older building. I live in a flat together with two German roommates 20 minutes from old town and the house looks very old from the outside but has been renovated from the inside.
It’s interesting to see some similarities to Russian and German culture. I felt this the most when tasting the food, one of my first experiences in a restaurant in Latvia was in Lido and I had mashed potatoes with sauerkraut and shashlik – the first two are very common in Germany and shashlik is quite common in Russia as well, at least according to my two Russian parents.
About other aspects of Latvian culture I still have to visit a lot of museums and events to which I’m already looking forward to.
Never underestimate teenager
I think it is important to understand how digital communication and social media work for teenagers in the future and today. You need to be able to take criticism and be open to new ideas, even if the person is only 14 years old. If I have learnt one thing in my 6 years of experience working with children and teenagers, then it is that you should never underestimate them. They are full of ideas and the worst thing a parent or anybody else can do is to ignore their ideas and needs.
I work in the IT of Benteler, a huge car part manufacturer that has factories all over the world. Because I’m still studying right now, I had the possibility to go through several departments to find the one I like the most. My highlights were “Enterprise Architecture Management” so basically analyzing what tools are used within the company, what they cost, who uses that tool and what other applications, processes and services would be affected if we tried to replace that tool. In another department I had to program some interfaces within SAP. But then just recently I worked in the project management, and I think I found the perfect department for me. It was an amazing experience to plan how the project would work out, communicate with all people partaking in the project all over the world and reorganize things when something went wrong. It felt great to have the responsibility of the project and to see it succeed in the end.
Most importantly – trust
I think that the future will be digitalized even further and that most people will be allowed to work from home. Most electricity will come from renewable sources like solar or wind. People will feel responsible for their own actions and be cautious about how their choices in products might impact other areas of life for example the climate or how animals are treated.
I’m more of an optimist when it comes to the future, I just hope that with all digitalization we as humans won’t forget the skills of human interaction like empathy, patience and most importantly: trust.
Author: Martin Hanemann, a student from Germany of the ERASMUS + exchange program from the School of Business Administration Turiba