On Friday, 20 May, Ambassador of Finland to Latvia Olli Kantanen and Consul of the Department of Consular and Administrative Affairs Asta Puolakka paid a visit to Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) to meet RSU students from Finland. During the meeting various matters topical to the students were discussed: tendencies in the development of the field of medicine in Finland, students’ everyday life and integration in Latvia, relations between Finland and Latvia and cooperation, as well as current issues in Finland’s foreign and domestic policy.
According to the third year medical student Vili Pehkonen, “Finish students were extremely excited about this meeting. This is the first time at RSU to meet a high-ranking diplomat. We asked questions related to both political matters and everyday life. For example, we asked about the Ambassador’s food preferences in Latvia’s grocery stores.”
There are currently 115 students from Finland at RSU constituting 7% of the total student body. 105 students are enrolled to the study programme “Medicine”, whereas 10 students – to the study programme “Dentistry”.
During the meeting, the director of the International Department Baiba Pētersone informed the Ambassador about cooperation with the universities from Finland. Student and staff exchange between RSU and the universities from Finland within the frame of Erasmus+ programme takes place on a regular basis. Besides, RSU Erasmus Office has concluded agreements with several universities from Finland on exchange in various fields, incl. medicine, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing and social sciences. It is also worth mentioning that RSU Library has cooperation with the colleagues from the University of Helsinki, whereas, RSU researchers are engaged in international projects on labour safety and protection together with the researchers from Finland.
At the end of the meeting, the Ambassador suggested that RSU organise such a meeting next year, when new students from Finland will be admitted to RSU. In addition, the Ambassador expressed a wish to host Open Days at the embassy for RSU students from Finland.
Mr Olli Kantanen was appointed as an ambassador on 4 August 2014. Prior to that he worked at the Department for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where he served as a Head of the Unit for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He has also worked in the Department for Development Policy, the Administrative Department, the Department for Europe, and the Department for External Economic Relations, as well as in the Government Secretariat for EU Affairs. In the Diplomatic Service, Mr Kantanen has served in Tallinn and Berlin. He has studied international relations at Åbo Akademi University (Finland) and Tilburg University (The Netherlands).
The meeting was organised by RSU International department within the frame of the programme Meet the ambassador. This spring RSU students from Italy had an opportunity to meet the Ambassador of Italy to Latvia Sebastiano Fulci. After the meeting the students established RSU Italian Student Association and assisted the embassy in organising the events of the Europe Day held on 9 May.