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First international graduate of LLU: “Sociology is everything around us. It is a life.”

Svetlana Gribanova comes from Siberia, Krasnoyarsk. When she was 17 years old she moved to Latvia. After graduating her bachelor studies in logistics, she intentionally chose to continue her master in sociology. Maybe for somebody it will seem strange how it is possible to learn sociology in university related to agriculture. But no for Svetlana. She has learnt that LLU is not just about agriculture. She has understood that you have to “dig deeper” to understand the things and processes around you. Everything is not so superficial. During conversation, she uses words “our university”, speaks with high respect to knowledge of professors in LLU. At the end of the interview there is strong feeling and confidence that she belongs to our university more as true Latvian.

It sounds weird that you are studying sociology in university related to agriculture, isn’t it?

The word “agriculture” in university name sometimes is misleading and humiliating a bit. My colleges from America is asking: “In which university you are studying?” When I answer them, they ask: “What kind of sociology can be in LLU? Sociology with cows?” They have frames where they try to fit this image of agriculture. I try to explain them that we have not only agriculture but other faculties, e.g. information technologies, engineering, etc. For example, I want to make a PhD about management and motivation and I found out that there is regional economics as well. Why I don’t go to other universities in Latvia to study? I really liked the study process here, I had good relationship and that’s why I want to stay in university. Maybe I will be the first international doctoral student in LLU! I am used to this place and it doesn’t take so much time to go from Riga to Jelgava where I live now. It’s not so difficult to manage this – just 50 minutes to come here.

Your previous education is in logistics. How did you come to the idea that you have to study sociology?

I work in market research company and I met people who have sociological education and I started to research this topic. And I found it in LLU. There was description that university provides strong “Food science” and the “Veterinary medicine” programmes. By searching more, I was very happy to find out that there are human sciences as well.

Since 2008 you are living in Latvia. You chose your studies in English. Don’t you speak Latvian already?

I have residence permit and to get it I had to passed Latvian language test and I got second category, which is the second higher. I was hesitated to study in Latvian because it is not as good as my English and there are specific academic terms, literature sources. But I will study further my Latvian! At the moment I understand it, for example, during study process we had excursions to Latvian companies, I understood more or less everything but sometimes it is not so easy to ask something. And sometimes it is better not to ask (laughing).

You work in market research company. Is it easy to do combine studies with work?

I have floating schedule in a market research company where I work. I do online market researches and I have to be always available and do things pretty fast but I can work from anyplace where is internet. In the morning, I usually did all the emails, then I went to university and had some break and then did my job again. And no one suffered from my studies.

What are your impressions about studies LLU?

I knew I need this education and I liked all the study programme because there are a lot of materials to study. In every case professors try to hear your field of professional interests and try give you more personalized programme. The main point is that you have to show your interest in some field and you will get something in return. Professors always give you feedback and people are very flexible in different ways of communication and teaching. They offer you different experiences, it is never boring.  Also, I enjoyed the communication with international students, we had some trips together. Twice I participated in international scientific conferences which were very interesting. I learnt how to present and how not to present (laughing), met different people. It is English class for free all day long! It is great opportunity for students, you don’t need to move anywhere. I was very happy about this conference.

Also, we have our library of literature about sociology where are books in English and Russian, journals about statistics. Some students from Kazakhstan go there to improve their English and for them there is opportunity to read in Russian as well. Somehow it will clarify some spots which are dark to make a whole picture of the text. I like that the teachers are flexible, they are listening and help you to find synonyms how it sounds in Russian if you don’t understand fully in English. I appreciate that programme director and teachers are free to give mobile phone for you for emergency case. It is useful if you are late or something happens. Teachers are very reachable and always possible to get in touch, responsive. It is important in this electronic era to have personal communication. You can be free in asking the questions, people are kind and friendly. It is very nice experience. So, it would be nice to stay in the same university for my doctoral studies.

How can you describe teaching in LLU?

In my school, all my school teachers were from “Soviet kitchen”. What I liked here? We have this great balance between older generation and younger generation of teachers. It provides two different approaches of teaching. They know these classics and moderns well. It is very good because when you have only this very progressive way of thinking you do not “dig” very deep. It is very fragmented approach. But when you have this classic schools also as a basis and also modern approach, you are motivated to “dig deeper”. It is very important for sociology to learn how to analyse information. After you have done something you think how to make it bigger, how to large it. You understand not just a theory but how can it be applied in a practise.

A lot of people don’t understand what sociology is. How can you explain what is it?

I went to sociology intentionally, I pre-studied the field. Sociology is a science about society, about how it functions, about different interactions, relationships of the members of society. When I was writing my master paper I said to myself: “Sveta, you have to focus on sociology, organization of public administration. It is super important!” But when I came to defence I heard different topics – what people are thinking about forest, Jūrmala city, there were topics about teacher motivation, etc. It is not just organization or public administration. It is good demonstration what sociology is. Sociology is everything which is around us. It is not a society but everything. It is not anymore just connection between members of people but connection in society in general. Sociology is a world. If students go to study sociology and don’t know what it is, they feel disappointed because they expect something very specific. But in sociology you learn about philosophy, psychology, mathematics, organization theory and politics etc. Of course, it is very hard. Sociology is a life. You can apply it for every aspect of life. You have to be prepared to explore world. It is like a diamond. For example, image you are living in a big flat but you like some of rooms, there is your favourite place. But those who like organization theory they prefer swimming in the ocean not in one small area.

Which is your favourite “room” in sociology?

Everything connected to organizations and motivation. I like everything that can be applied in a real world and where I can get results which will be useful.



Submitted on: 28/06/2017