Student Snapshot: Tami König
Tami König is a 4th year Medical student and will be starting her 8th semester in September. After finishing the study year, she decided to stay in Riga for the summer and enjoy the pleasures that the warmer months in the North can offer.
Why did you decide to stay in Riga?
With the pandemic going on I felt safer here as the Latvian government seemed to have the whole situation under control better than elsewhere.
I was supposed to fly to the US this summer for an internship, meet friends and travel around, but I felt that traveling and flying was not the safest thing to do right now. I did not feel comfortable to go back to Germany where my family lives either. I would not have been able to isolate properly as my family lives in a rather small place and I did not want to risk getting them sick.
What are you doing with your time here?
I am spending a lot of time studying for the USMLE (US Medical License Examination). The summer gives me a lot of time to prepare for it without having to worry about doing university work parallel. Additionally I have been busy organising events like virtual game nights, USMLE study groups and a 4th of July Kayaking trip for the RSU US Student Association.
During the time that I don't spend studying I've been going on hikes, swimming, going to the beach and am planning possible road trips to Daugavpils, Rēzekne and the Rāzna National Park. I meet up with local friends or friends that have also decided to stay here like me.
As I have stayed in Latvia during the summer before, I have seen all the most popular places recommended for tourists. I am now trying to find places that locals recommend, which are more off the beaten track.
What are your favorite places to go to in Riga?
I love all the parks in Riga, especially Viesturdārzs. The amount of care that the gardeners put into them is just stunning! During the last couple of months, I have probably taken more than 100 pictures of flowers just because the parks looked different every couple of days. I also love ice hockey, so another favorite place of mine is Arena Riga. I am excited for next year’s Ice Hockey World Cup that will take place in Riga.
Another place I love and recommend to people who want to learn about Latvian culture, history and tradition, is the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum. Latvians love to teach visitors about their traditions.
I once had an hour-long conversation with a seller who was excited to explain the meaning of every ancient Latvian sign and symbol. It was lovely!
What are some of your favorite places to go to in the countryside?
There are a lot! I highly recommend checking out the beaches that are not close to Jūrmala or other big cities. They are usually cleaner and less crowded.
If someone has the time, I also recommend renting a car for a weekend and driving along the west coast of Latvia. You can see different lighthouses and stop in Ventspils and Liepāja. On the way back you can visit Ventas rumba in Kuldīga, which is the widest water fall in Europe. In the summer you can even walk across it!
Another place every student should check out is the Gauja National Park. I like to go kayaking and hiking there. If you are interested in History you can also visit the “Secret Bunker” in Ligatne, which was built during the Cold War to protect Latvian and Soviet officials.
Would you recommend other students to stay here? What would you tell them to do?
Absolutely stay during the summer, if you can!
Summer is the most beautiful season here and you can live off your travel experiences during the cold winter months. Maybe invite some friends from your home country or ask local friends to join you and just explore. I have personally never visited a country with such pristine beaches and forests before.
If you do not have the chance to stay for the summer, check out day trips that you can do during the semester. A friend of mine and I also studied for our 3rd semester final colloquia and exams at the beach while everyone else was sitting inside. We were productive, avoided the heat and got tanned while others were sweating, studying inside, and didn't see daylight all day long!