Latvia is one of Europe’s hidden gems for higher education: With its safe and welcoming cities and spectacular coastline it is ideal for students and visitors alike. Located on the Baltic Sea, Latvia is somewhat of a crossroads between East and West, and in this cosmopolitan country, a lot of languages are spoken - Latvian, Russian, German, and of course English.
Latvia has had a turbulent past, being incorporated into Russia for most of the last 700 years. It had a brief fling with independence after World War I, but the Singing Revolution brought about the changes needed to make it an autonomous state in 1991. It is quite a small country with a population of around two million. Its capital Riga has a rich cultural heritage, including opera, ballet, art galleries and museums.
Although a small country, Latvian universities have readily adopted to the demands of international students. Well over 200 English-taught study programmes are available to choose from - many of them even at the Bachelor level.
Riga is the capital as well as the largest city, and here you will find the majority of the universities, the largest of which is the University of Latvia. It is almost 100 years old, and teaches a number of courses in English, including medicine and dentistry.
Riga Stradins University has the largest cohort of international students in Latvia. They number 25% of the overall student population, and come from 50 different countries.
Alternative university towns are Daugavpils with its stunning architectural heritage, and Liepāja, famed for its Blue Flag beaches on the Baltic coast.
If you like the outdoors, there is plenty to do in Latvia. From the famous white sandy beaches near Liepāja, to hiking or skiing in the pine forests, there are many places to enjoy the beautiful scenery. That is all before you even consider wind-surfing, water-skiing and bobsledding; just make sure you don’t forget to study.
The cost of living is very low in Riga, particularly when you compare it to other European capital cities. However, if you are studying in any of the other large cities around Latvia, you will find it to be even cheaper.
Riga, as the largest of the cities, has a burgeoning nightlife where you will always find something to do. It was the European Capital of Culture in 2014, and there are many cultural events and entertainment. Eating out is very reasonably priced compared to the rest of Europe. Many of the cafés and coffee shops have free wi-fi as well, allowing for impromptu study sessions in convenient surroundings.