What a student's life is like if you come from the other side of the world

Andrés Guzmán Díaz comes from Jalisco, Mexico. He had never visited any of the Baltic States and this is his first time in Latvia. Andrés is studying for master’s degree at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences and has been living in Latvia for six months already. He believes that Valmiera is a good place to live in and would love to stay here in the future if the opportunity arises.


Decision to go to Latvia

I found out about the Latvian state scholarship and I just started to look for some information about the country. I saw several videos and articles about Latvia. The more I knew about the country, the more interested I was about coming here.

Before I came, I found out that you have large areas of forest, cold weather and people are usually very calm.

Biggest challenges and fears before going to Latvia

Of course, the language, because I do not know Latvian or Russian. I was a little bit insecure about the culture. Some people said to me that I was going to miss the Mexican food, Mexican people and Mexican culture, but I realized that I do not miss that much. People in Latvia are quiet, calm and polite. In Mexico people talk a lot and we tend to touch when we are speaking to someone. It is more like closer or loud relationship. In Latvia we have more space, silence and I like that.

Life in Latvia

Since I arrived my mentor Anna gave me a tour and she was very kind. The professors here also were very kind,  Erasmus students in the dorms were kind so I felt like at home since the first day.

I love your black bread. Usually i buy this kind of bread that tastes bitter, that for me is very cool. I love the weather. It is cold, but I enjoy it. I do not miss the hot weather and the sun of my country. For me it is wonderful to see the clouds and the rain. I love the rain! I love Valmiera more than Riga, because here is so quiet and I can walk to any direction. That is nice!

Studies at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences

I chose Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences for its study program “Media and Information Literacy”. I couldn’t find such program in other Latvian universities. Also, the international office was very kind and quick to answer. So, it was very easy to apply.

I remember my first day at the university. I arrived not at the beginning of the semester. Three or two weeks had already passed, so my students already met each other, but I was the new one. I remember I said some comment and all the people just looked at me like who are you, why are you here or where do you come from! It was kind of awkward, but at the same time it was cool, that people noticed me.

I think that the quality of studies at Vidzeme Univeristy of Applied Sciences is very high. In a scale from 1 to 10 I would say 8-9. The professors are high qualified. We have lectures and we have a lot of homework. We need to read a lot, we need to write a lot and prepare some things. At first, it was kind of strange for me, because in Mexico that is different.

Life outside studies

With exchange students we live in the same building, on the same floor. With Latvian students we usually communicate at university and I would say I have two Latvian friends.

I don't think I have a lot of free time, but I usually like watching movie or series and read. I like to listen podcast “Latvia Weekly” about news. There are often different events and balls for students, and I am often invited.

Future plans

Well right now I am kind of worried about my master thesis. I need to focus on that. I hope I will graduate and then I would like to go to France, because my girlfriend is there.

I have considered studying more and working in Latvia. If tomorrow someone from university says we want you to teach, it would be really my dream. It would be comfortable to stay here. I think it would be perfect!

Since 2018, ViA has been implementing three new Master's degree programmes in English, which have been developed as part of the project "Development and Approbation of New Master's Programs for the Promotion of International Competitiveness of Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences" (No. /18/A/011.) In total, five Master's degree programmes in English will be developed: "Media and Information Literacy", "Virtual Reality and Smart Technologies", "Cyber Security Engineering", "Strategic Communication and Governance" and a tourism study programme in cooperation with Satakunta University of Applied Sciences in Finland.

The total budget of the project is EUR 500 000, of which 85% is financed from the European Social Fund and 15% from the state budget of Latvia. The project will be implemented from April 2019 till November 2023 and is supported by the European Social Fund (ESF).