Saturday, April 1, 2017

Two months into med school

I really can't believe  that it has already been two moths since I left Finland. I have studied quite much and also learned so many new things! It's amazing how much a person can learn in such a short period of time. After being stuck in the Finnish med school application process for over two years it feels so good to actually learn new information and to not just bang your head against the wall with the same entrance exam material over and over again..

The last month has been quite eventful. I visited Finland for a weekend, then my best friend from Finland came to visit me for a week and after that my parents came to visit me for almost a week. I have made many new friends and Latvia really starts to feel like home :) I really loved having my best friend and my parents here. It felt good showing them my favorite places and hanging out with them. Before it felt like Riga was in another dimension. It was hard to connect Finland and Riga because everything was new and different: people, places, furniture... After having friends and family here, it feels like a can finally make the connection between the two places. This really is happening and this is my life.

In four days we have our spring break for two weeks and everybody is going home, including me :) really excited to get to spend some time with my Finnish friends and to see my family and of course, our cat 😍 Also, I am very happy to have a break from school so I can catch up.. I have studied a lot but I reaaaaaaally want to get good grades so I try my best to study as much as I can.

Today we had the first day of our Baltic conference for Finnish students. Tonight we have a party and tomorrow the conference continues. The speakers today were very interesting: Lääkäriliitto, Duodecim, a gynecologist and a dentist. The opening speech almost made me cry. A representative from a Finnish organization Lääkäriliitto, referred to us as her colleagues and talked to us about the importance of teamwork and collegiality. It feels so weird to being referred as a colleague and to be part of this big community that seems to take care of each other. Deep down I still can't believe that I am entitled to study this field.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Human bones and bodies

The days here have been filled with school and studying, especially anatomy. Everything feels still new and amazing. I know that this feeling will not last for ever but while it does, I´m trying to make the best of it!

Last week I saw two human bodies, and yes, it was amazing! My anatomy class is right next to the dissection room and the wall in between is made out of glass so you can see everything. The smell was weird and I felt sick at first but ones I heard that the smell came mainly from the stuff that they use to preserve the bodies I felt all right. This week I saw bodies again but this time it didn't feel that fascinating. I guess you get used to everything.

The first time I got to hold an actual human bone was even more amazing. I honestly felt my heart skipping a beat. It was the thought of an actual human being, that ones had the bone inside him/her, that was so intriguing. After the first great moment I have been privileged to study real human bones many times and I could say that I have become used to this too. It really helps to have the opportunity to study from actual bones! At RSU we have a place called Anatomikum, where you can go and ask for any bones, tissues etc. and study them.

Toga party!

Gangsters of Anatomikum

Sunday, February 19, 2017

First week of Medical School in Riga

Time really flies when everything is new, exciting and fun. I can't believe that I've already been here for over two weeks! This week was kinda soft landing, at least for me. I didn't have many classes and I had no school on Friday (yay).

On first week I had Latvian language, Medical Chemistry and Medical Physics, Histology and Medical Cell Biology, Molecular Biology and Anatomy. Before summer I am also going to have some First Aid, Medical History and Philosophy. My school ends in the end of June or possibly in the beginning of July.. in Finland I guess many uni students have their holiday from the beginning of June until the beginning of August or even until the beginning of September? Here, at RSU we have our summer holiday from the end of June until the end of August.

We have classes and lectures. Classes are usually in our study groups (11 ppl) and they are mandatory. Lectures are optional but recommended. I have 1-4 lectures or classes a day. The shortest take 1,5h and the longest 2,25h. In some of them we get to wear white coats which is kinda weird but also cool, you really feel like a future doctor when wearing it 😍

We have to know a list of Latin words by Thursday (in four days) so gotta go and study.. but I love studying medical things so I don't mind 😊 I am still so happy that I got in and that I finally have a direction in my life. Right now, I feel so excited about studying, that the future huge workload doesn't really scare me. Yet.

Here is The List if you are interested.

Questions for self-controlling: 
1. Basic structures of vertebra.
2. Structure of typical thoracal vertebra. 
3. Structure of atypical thoracal vertebra.
4. Structure of the typical cervical vertebra. 
5. Atypical cervical vertebra: structure. 1st and 2nd cervical vertebrae. 
6. Structure of lumbar vertebra. 
7. Os sacrum.
8. Parts of vertebral column.
9. Structure of typical and atypical ribs.. 
10. 1st rib.
11. Sternum.
12. To show on the used anatomical material: 

Corpus vertebrae, arcus vertebrae
Foramen vertebrale
Processus spinosus
Processus transversus
Pocessus articularis superior, inferior
Incisura vertebralis superior, inferior
Foramen intervertebrale
Arcus anterior / posterior atlantis
Fovea dentis atlantis
Dens axis
Sulcus a. vertebralis
Foramen transversarium
Massa lateralis
Facies articularis superior, inferior atlantis
Fovea costalis superior
Fovea costalis inferior
Fovea costalis processus transversi 
Processus costalis 
Facies auricularis ossis sacri
Foramina sacralia anteriora, posteriora
Tuberositas sacralis
Lineae transversae
Processus articularis superior
Crista sacralis mediana
Canalis sacralis, hiatus sacralis
Caput costae, crista capitis costae
Collum costae, tuberculum costae
Corpus costae, sulcus costae, angulus costae
Tuberculum m. scaleni anterioris 
Sulcus a. subclaviae, sulcus v. subclaviae 
Manubrium sterni
Incisura clavicularis, incisurae costales 
Incisura jugularis
Corpus sterni, processus xiphoideus
Angulus sterni, angulus infrasternalis
Sulcus pulmonalis
Apertura thoracis superior, inferior 

Knowledge and skills: To be able name of the bone, to describe it’s parts and structures, using the Latin terminology. To show structures on the bones and recognize vertebrae in different vertebral column`s parts, to recognize first rib from the other."

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Orientation week

I have now been in Latvia for  a week and it has been great! I was surprised how clean and beautiful it is here. The streets, trams, buses and stores are very tidy. Food and bars are very cheap and taking a taxi is ridiculously cheap. Yesterday my friend paid 2 euros for over a two kilometer ride from a bar to our house at 3 am.. Clothes, furniture and gyms cost almost as much as in Finland. A bus card that covers all trams, buses and trolley buses costs 16€ a month for a student.

About the orientation week.. At school we had informative lectures about the immigration process, culture, study process etc. and also team-building games in which my group got second place! At night we had parties and get togethers.

On Monday we got divided into study groups. There are about 250 new international medical students and we got  divided to 22? groups. In every group there are 10-14 students, in my group 11 students: 4 Finnish and 7 Germans. About 40% of all the international students are from Germany so there are quite many of them :D My group, Medicine 15 is awesome! We have seen each other a lot and developed a good team spirit. We are going to be studying together for many years so it is quite important to get a long with your group mates :)

The classes start on Monday and students have to prepare for the classes by reading articles and chapters from different books. I have tried to go over some of the reading assignments but there are so many of them :D I'll continue tomorrow when I am hopefully no more hangover..

Friday, February 3, 2017

Greetings from Estonia and Latvia

The Day is finally here. I packed my bags and left Finland. My last few weeks in Finland were quite busy: I worked in a local shop, studied some Russian and Latvian and packed everything I own in boxes.

I took only two peaces of luggage with me because that was really all my friend and I could carry together. Yes, my best friend came with me all the way to Latvia! She is going to stay here for the weekend, just enough time to get to know the city and maybe go to one of those cheap hairdressers. Notice, that Finland is one of the most expensive countries in the world so my guess is that I'll be using the word "cheap" quite a lot...

My parents are going to come to visit me possibly in March and bring the rest of the stuff by car. Until then, I am gonna have to manage with the two bags of clothes and other things that I have with me! Let's hope I didn't forget anything crucial..

We chose not to travel by an airplane, since it would have been expensive considering how much stuff we had. We took a ferrie from Helsinki to Tallin (Estonia) and then travelled by a bus to Latvia. It takes 2,5h to cross the Finnish Bay (Suomenlahti) and 4,5h to get from Tallin to Riga by a bus. One way trip costs about 40€/person.

In the future, I will definitely rather fly because it only takes on hour to fly from Riga to Turku (my home town in Finland). The cheapest flights that I could find were only 74€/person, round trip. The only problem is that you can only have a carry on -bag and traveling with luggage costs extra.

We arrived yesterday and today we are planning to go to check the old town and some tourist attractions. The apartment is so nice! Very big rooms, high ceilings and it has been renovated last April. Our landlord seemed very kind and welcoming. She speaks Russian and it feels like everybody else does too. Yesterday, we popped quickly in a local store and I heard a lot of Russian being spoken.

Next week I have my orientation week and after that classes and lectures start. I am unspeakably excited!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Finding roommates and a flat

Ones you get a confirmation that you have been offered a study place, you will get accepted to many Facebook groups. Each group has a different subject: about finding flatmates and apartments, selling furniture, getting to know your classmates, etc.

I just posted an ad on one of them, describing me and telling that I was looking for like-minded people to share an apartment with. I was contacted by many people and one of them were two Finnish girls. We started looking for an apartment with them and found one!

It is quite exciting to move together with two strangers but it seems like we are going to get a long very well :) at least we share the same nationality and our interest in medicine!

Finding the apartment was easy for me since my roommates (so awesome) wanted to travel to Latvia for a day to look for the apartments we had looked up on the internet. They went to see many flats and found one that fit to our purposes. Many of the apartments had mold that could be seen or at least smelled..  They were very cautious and I believe that they have found a safe flat.

Now we have signed the rental contracts (each of us got out own) and paid the invoice. We have an apartment with two bathrooms, a kitchen and three separate bedrooms. We also have two washing machines and a dish washer! Tha. best. thing. ever.

I feel so excited and nervous at the same time. Only two weeks and I will be living in a different country!! Can't wait!

Monday, January 9, 2017

About applying to Riga Stradins University

Applying to medical school in Latvia is, to my mind, somewhat easier than applying to a Finnish medical school. Note that this post is specifically about the application process to RSU(Riga Stradins University), not to LU (University of Latvia).

First and most importantly, there is no entrance exam! You will though, need to send many documents via regular mail:
-Your grades from your high school. By this I mean both diplomas: Official Transcript and Matriculation Certificate (In Finnish Lukion päättötodistus and Ylioppilastodistus). They need both documents on paper in two different languages: English and your native language. The documents can be copies but they have to be proven legitimate by registry office etc.
-Medical report
-Two Recommending letters in sealed envelopes from a teacher etc.
-Motivation letter

Also, make sure that your vaccinations are up to date when going to see a doctor for the Medical Report!

I send my application package in the end of  November 2016, deadline was on 31st of December. I received the decision on 29th of December so for me, it took about a month to hear from the results. But don't worry, I have understood that it often takes two months for them to inform you about their decision. 

I got in, all right, but there were some misunderstandments on my behalf about the application. I think that the application forms are somewhat confusing.

I received a document "Checklist for admissions" that said: "Please send us scanned copies of both documents in both languages to"(documents meaning the Official Transcript and Matriculation Certificate), and I though that it meant that you only need to scan and send the documents via email but no.. In addition, they needed those documents on paper... I honestly really could't find the part where they said that they needed them on paper too.. even to this day! I guess this will stay as a mystery for ever..

I felt quite frustrated at the time since I had had some problems with my Vaccination Certificate as well. So it wasn't really a surprise when I just broke down in tears in the middle of a super market when I got the email saying that again, something was wrong with my application. Fortunately, even this story has a happy ending :)

SO! If you have had some problems with your application, don't worry, you can still get in!

I had an average of 7-8 in High School (In Finland, grades go from 4-10, 10 being the best) and I have six E's also known as Six Eximia Cum Laude -grades on my Matriculation Certificate (the second best grade).

I hope that this post helps people, who are in the middle of their application process, please let me know if you have any questions!