Before coming to Latvia, he didn’t know anything about it. Thanks to google he got the first insight and information about Latvia University of Agriculture (LLU) and Faculty of Food Technology. Now he has a master degree in “Food Science”, friends all over the world and a big international family on a fifth floor in a dormitory. The first international graduate of LLU – Vincent van Andel from the Netherlands!
Fail in the university of the Netherlands leads to Latvia
Few days before graduation ceremony of Faculty of Food Technology Vincent had a feeling that he has finished one important chapter in his life and is ready to open the next one already in his home country – the Netherlands. A successful coincidence brought him to LLU and now he feels satisfied with this turn. “After my bachelor, I found a work in the Netherlands which was quite related to my studies but it was very dull. So, I decided to go to Europe to do a master. First, I checked opportunities in the Netherlands but I couldn’t apply for a “Food Science” programme there because they required 7.0 average in grade list but I had 6.8 average. Then I searched for other opportunities abroad. I thought about studies in Denmark and Sweden but living expenses there are very high and I continued my research about study possibilities somewhere else. Then I found information about LLU in a homepage masterstudies.com and got to know more about LLU and Faculty of Food Technology,” Vincent remembers the beginning of his master studies story. He found out that Faculty of Food Technology has a new building and new equipment and it seemed for him as a good argument to do his studies in Jelgava.
Individual approach of studies helps to eliminate gaps from the previous education
“First semester I had courses alone with teachers and it was a bit strange for me. But you can really understand theoretical and also practical part much better in that way, especially if you need some help. If there is a big class then a lot of times professors cannot discuss topics with you in a detail because they need to go on a schedule. Here I understood several things much better than in Holland, because I got in discussion with professors,” Vincent explains the first surprises and benefits during his study process. On a second semester, there joined more students and a study process became a different but still very personal, with individual approach to each student. Also, he appreciates the high-quality of equipment and technologies that were available for him to do his master paper. “My master theses was about pressure processing of ham. It is a new method how to increase shelf life of ham, how to keep it in for a longer term in a fridge. Here I could realise everything that was necessary for my research,” explains Vincent.
Descriptions on products in Latvian languages motivates to discover unknown
However, adaption process in Latvia was quite challenging for Vincent. “At first two weeks, I just bought something in a grocery store and I didn’t know what exactly it is (laughing). You have a lot of products with different flavours, e.g. tomato sauce with garlic, pineapple etc. A lot of products have a description in English but sometimes there is a sticker on it with description in Latvian or Lithuanian language,” Vincent is laughing by remembering his first moments of a daily life of Latvia. However, he was happy that he has discovered some Latvian dishes, for example, soļanka, roasted bread with garlic and the desert with black bread and whipped cream. But all over it he is agreeably surprised with the prices in Latvia. “In groceries prices are more or less the same as in Holland but in the restaurants or cafes prices are like in McDonalds in the Netherlands. It’s even not profitable to cook by yourself (laughing)! Comparing with Holland the prices for living are very cheap here. For example, I had a room with my own bathroom and I paid 140 euros per month. In Holland, I had 1/3 part of this room and I paid 220 euros. Normally you pay 500 – 600 euros per room in Holland,” Vincent is sharing his experience about living costs in Latvia.
Has acquired more than 100 friends and international family
During his studies Vincent has learnt a lot. He has acquired professional knowledge and skills in a food science, has learnt about Latvian culture, food and has met a lot of friends. “I met around 120 people from different countries, every year approximately 40 new international students came to university. We always met in a common kitchen where we chat all the time. One semester I also spent in Prague within my study process but I did like here better. In Prague, I was with 200 exchange students. It was a big group of people and they made frequencies – those who speak Dutch, Spanish, etc. The city was beautiful and it is good to go there for holidays but living in Jelgava is much better. Here we are like a big family on a fifth floor,” Vincent is saying about his friends he met during his study time. He likes Latvia also because of its beautiful nature and the fact that in Jelgava it is always easy to choose where to go and what to do, as well as travelling from here is very cheap and convenient. By asking about his decision to study in LLU, Vincent is answering very quickly: “Definitely I am happy about my choice. I am kind of glad that I was refused in university in Holland. I have acquired a great knowledge, a lot of friends and I feel ready to new challenges to go to any country in Europe for a work,” says Vincent.