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LATVIA - ISEP University of Latvia

The University of Latvia was established in 1919 when Latvia first become independent from Russia; it used the facilities and staff of the Riga Polytechnic. Total enrollment: 22,000 students in 68 study programs. 

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.  

Learn more about the University of Latvia here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Eligibility

To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have second-semester sophomore status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).

Location

Latvia, on the Baltic Sea, shares borders with Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, and Russia and Belarus to the east. In the territory, it exceeds Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland. It is the central and strategically most significant part of the Baltic States, with a population of 2.5 million people. As a result of the intense Russification during the Soviet occupation from 1945 to 1991, ethnic Latvians make up only 56 percent of the population. Riga, its capital, was founded in 1201 and is by far its largest city; it is also one of Latvia’s major ice-free seaports that handle considerable shipping to and from Russia.

Academics

For classes at the University of Latvia, please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites. Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it. Be aware of these limitations.

The field especially recommended for ISEP students is the Baltic/Latvian Studies Program. It is taught in English and includes a Latvian language course. It covers Latvian literature and anthropology/cultural studies (focusing on Latvia); other topics include history and economics of Latvia and the Baltic region. 

There is also a Russian Studies Program, taught in Russian (with some courses in English) and requiring Russian language proficiency. 

Students typically enroll in 3-4 classes per term which average to 20-25 hours in class per week. A term runs for 15-16 weeks. Students will need to earn a minimum of 20 Latvian credits, or 30 ECTS credits, to earn the equivalent of 4 Lake Forest credits.

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.

HINTS FOR RESEARCHING COURSES

See Courses in English.

Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.

Student Life

There will be a five-hour session regarding the system of higher education in Latvia, the history of the University of Latvia, student activities, studies at the university, and social life. In addition, there will be tours around the university, the library, the museum, and computer facilities.

ESN-Riga (local section of the Erasmus Student Network) during each semester organizes different activities for foreign exchange students which include introduction week, trips inside Latvia and journeys to the neighboring countries, thematic evenings etc. ESN maintains as well the buddy system which helps exchange students to integrate into the Latvian society and offers the opportunity to meet local students.

Housing and Meals

ISEP students are housed in a residence hall and receive a stipend for their meals and accommodation. 

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 programs:

Budget Item

Amount

Lake Forest College Tuition

$23,160

Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost

TBD

Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College

 TBD

ISEP Fees

 $475

ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance (estimated, $90/mo)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP

 $360

Additional Meals

 $800

Estimated Airfare

*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award

 $1,400

Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)

 $2,500

Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses

 $5,385

Total

TBD

Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office
    847-735-5231
    aolson@lakeforest.edu