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Mission - being a doctor
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Interviews

As part of our themed series of interviews “Doctor – it is a mission” we offer an interview with Christoph Philipp Schulze – president of the Association of German Students Abroad  (Deutsche Studenten im Ausland - DSiA) who is passionate about the world of medicine and has a strong desire to help others. He recognises that in the medical profession no two days are alike and that every new day brings new experiences. He is determined and strongly committed to help those needing it the most.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Christoph, I am a 28 year old 5th year RSU medicine student from a small city in Southern Germany. I have a friendly, outgoing personality, I am always interested in trying new things, and I am very dedicated or sometimes even stubborn, when it comes to achieving goals.

Apart from studying, I try to spend a lot of time with my friends. We have regular dinner nights, where we cook together, we go to the movies or to the opera. I enjoy listening to music and playing instruments, reading books, playing cards or board games and travelling. I am always open to trying new things, such as Capoeira, which I practised for a number of semesters here. 

Since 2014 I am a member of the Association of German Students Abroad “Deutsche Studenten im Ausland” (DSiA). 

Why do you want to become a doctor/medical professional? What was your motivation for choosing this profession? 

During my high school years, each of us could do an internship by offering assistance to people with special needs at a care home or workplace. Such internships were a part of social work classes. During these internships, I realised that I enjoy working with people. In Grade 8 all students had to do a “Find your profession” internship. Our neighbour was a doctor and he invited me to do the internship at the hospital he worked. During the internship in the vascular surgery ward, I was confronted by the harsh working environment and saw people dying.  However, I was captivated by this medical experience. During the internship week of working with patients at the hospital, I decided to study medicine. I started volunteering for St. John’s ambulance services – Die Johanniter – became a school paramedic and undertook internships at different hospitals and wards.  

There is a variety of factors behind the motivation to study medicine. The human body and the way the different and complex human organs work together in a perfect symbiosis is fascinating. There are so many things we still don`t know about it. Discovering new treatment methods and helping patients is something we should strive for. 

In the work of a doctor, no two days are alike. After all, it is my wish to help people, cure diseases and relieve pain. I certainly realise that it is not possible to help everyone and that not all patients will be grateful and polite. Some might be insulting or behave even worse, but those are the small things, like a spoken or unspoken “thank you”, a warm handshake or the awareness that you were able to change something, is what always keeps me motivated. 

Why did you choose RSU?

After graduation, during the year of volunteering at the ambulance service I sent applications for medical studies to universities all across Germany. Facing a 7-year waiting period for a study place in Germany, I decided to study something else and my choice fell on geological sciences. Although the studies were interesting, that was not what I wanted and I started looking for other possibilities. As young European citizens, we have so many opportunities and freedom to travel and live all over Europe, so I started to explore medicine study possibilities abroad. A doctor I was working with recommended Latvia and RSU as a study destination. Seeing the possibilities to study in small groups and in modern facilities, like the Anatomical Theatre and the Medical Study Technology Centre, I decided to study at RSU and to live in Riga for 6 years. 

What does it mean to be an international student at RSU and in Latvia? 

First of all it’s a great opportunity. There are not so many options to work and study with people from so many different countries and cultures – studies at RSU is certainly one of those. We are given the chance to expand our horizons and become global players in the medical field. Being taught the latest international trends gives us the possibility to work wherever we want.

Being an international student in Latvia and at RSU has also changed my personal life. I have met so many different people and made new friends from all over the world. I was introduced to different cultures, languages and ways of living. I am glad that I have this opportunity. Because of historical ties, the cultures of Latvia and Germany have much in common. Communication with the local students can help to understand the similarities and the differences between the two cultures. I would encourage every international student to use this exchange opportunity and be part of the international community.     

Throughout your academic career, you have been an active member of the association of German students abroad. Tell us about the association, your role, experience and responsibilities.

Since 2014 I am a member of the Association of German Students Abroad - “Deutsche Studenten im Ausland” (DSiA). Together with a great and dedicated team of students, we have turned it from a small “interest group” into the largest student organisation at RSU. 

Currently the DSiA has 29 active members, consisting of freshmen up to senior students from RSU and the University of Latvia (LU). The slogan of the DSiA: “from students – for students” was the idea of the five founding members in 2013. The aim of the organisation is to render support to German students and to organise various activities. We organise a variety of student events e.g. the welcome party, clothing donation, Student jam and – the only event intended for the German-speaking audience only ¬– the crime series Tatort evenings.  

I joined the DSiA in my second semester. In 2015 we decided to transform DSiA into an official RSU student association. During the first official elections, I was elected vice-president of the DSiA. In 2016 I was elected president of the organisation and re-elected in 2018. During my term in office, I have gained valuable experience in organising events and communicating with officials from RSU and the Embassy of Germany in Riga. I am pleased and proud of what our team has accomplished over recent years and I am looking forward to the future.

Are there any other charitable, social and/or professional activities in which you are personally involved? 

The DSiA collaborates with different organisations in Latvia in organising charity events and social projects. We have launched cooperation with the Samaritan Association of Latvia in organising international evenings for the elderly in one of the nursing homes and there are a number of other project ideas.  I have also started to attend meetings of the local Rotary Club. 

In Germany I was always involved in different activities. When I am at home, I still work for Die Johanniter as a paramedic and volunteer with various other projects in that organisation. I am also a member of the quick response team of the civil protection unit of our emergency services. The team consists of volunteer paramedics and doctors and we act like a volunteer fire rescue service for medical emergencies and a supporting unit for regular ambulances. On New Year’s Eve we were called to a huge house fire with many injured. We worked for many hours throughout the night to treat the injured and support people affected by the fire.

What are your plans for the future? 

After graduation, I would like to devote some time to travelling. I am interested in alternative medicine and I had the idea to travel through Asia to get an insight into their treatment methods, such as acupuncture, acupressure, natural herbal treatment and pulse medicine. Afterwards I want to specialise in paediatrics.