Student Snapshot: Viboosani Murugaboopathy
Viboosani Murugaboopathy's family originally comes from the state of Tamil Nadu in India, which is in the south-east of the Indian subcontinent, but she was born and brought up in Dresden, Germany. Viboosani started studying medicine at Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) in 2015, and just graduated in February 2021.
Tell me about your first impressions of RSU.
I had been to Riga once for an Open Day. I came here with my parents and my brother for a couple of days. We visited the university and the Medical Education Technology Centre (METC). I was really impressed, to be honest, because the university system in Germany is different and more anonymous. You're one person among hundreds of other students. I wouldn't say that no one cares, but your lecturers and professors don't really know you. At RSU, however, we were only 12 students in one group when we started. It's such a privilege to have that kind of personal connection with your teachers! I was pleasantly surprised that the professors and doctors knew our names during our pre-clinical studies. They would greet us in the hallways! It's completely different than in Germany.
The student team that organised RSU Ultrafest 2018. Photo taken at the Capital Clinic Riga (Viboosani is third from the right). Photo from private archives.
Having this connection with my professors and doctors enabled me to accomplish a lot, like my internship at a hospital. It even helped me with my doctoral thesis. I got the connections I needed to write it through my lecturers, so it was really helpful.
I really like that bond with my lecturers, and the connections that I have made through studying at RSU. I'm sure that these will help me in my future career too.
Has the pandemic affected your plans for the future?
Not really, no. I am waiting for my diploma and once that arrives I have to fill out the paperwork to get it approbated, which means getting my Latvian diploma accepted in Germany. Hopefully I will be able to start working soon. I want to start working in cardiac surgery at the heart centre here in Dresden. In Germany you can also do your specialisation at the same time, so that's my plan for now.
Insight into Modern Cardiothoracic Surgery practical workshop jointly organised by PSKUS Heart Surgery Center, RSU SU and Johnson&Johnson. Private archive, 2019.
Tell me about your involvement with the Asian Society.
I was in the RSU Asian Society for two years as a board member. It was the greatest thing ever! Growing up in Dresden there weren't that many other Asian people around, even though it is quite a big city. I was literally the only South Asian student in my school until my brother started. When I started at RSU, there were already three other students from India just in my study group! This was a new experience for me. Because of RSU, RTU and other schools, I saw many other Asian students around the city. I was blown away! It was like heaven for me. Joining the Asian Society was even more exciting, because it was so cool to finally be able to celebrate my own festivals and learn about other cultural events. I never experienced this in my childhood, because in Germany we never really celebrated outside the family. At RSU, we organised big events with 100 people or more gathering for Diwali or Pongal, which was really cool.
RSU Asian Night 2017. Viboosani is second from the right. Photo from private archive.
When I first came to the Asian Society most of the members were Indian and Sri Lankan students, but now we even have members from China, Azerbaijan and Taiwan... It's quite diverse, so we try to incorporate events from different cultures, not just India or Sri Lanka.
Are there any holidays coming up in the spring that the Asian Society commemorates?
Definitely. For us the main holiday in the spring is the Asian New Year. We celebrate the new year now, because our calendar is different. The Georgian calendar revolves around the sun, but we have our own calendar. According to our calendar the new year is in April, so there are different new years for almost each culture.
There are different new years celebrations between 12-14 April just in India alone! Hindi New Year is on the 12th, Telugu New Year is on the 13th, and Tamil New Year is on the 14th. Chinese New Year was on 12 February.
The Asian Society usually celebrates new year as a collective event for all of us together and this usually falls around April.
What have you learned from participating in the extracurricular student activities at RSU?
I was part of student organisations in high school as well, but that was different because we were all from the same kind of cultural background. At ISA, however, our members come from different countries and even continents. Everyone has a different perspective and culture. Even the way in which people solve issues, or study is different. This gave me a broader understanding of what cooperation is, and of how to take everyone's opinion, or way in which they do things into account. This was very valuable for me personally. It's a cliche, but it really broadened my horizons. This has helped me both professionally, and personally. My participation in the Asian Society especially helped me get to know my own culture better.