I will not speak about possibilities to study LIS in UK. This time I want to share my experience during my LIS studies in Latvia and Sweden.
I finished school in 2007 and had to choose a program for further studies. It was a tough decision as my main goal was to get in a budget group (some students in Latvia get their studies paid by the government, if their study results are significant). I was interested in too many things simultaneously. I have read all booklets and chose 3 completely different programs. 1)Geography 2)Library and Information Science 3)Finno-Ugric studies. When you apply in the University of Latvia, you get a login and a password so you can follow your ratings during the enrolment process. It is kind of fun, it reminds me horse racing. Your name is there, you see how many points you have and which one you are in the ranking table for the place of your choice. The fun part is to guess, whether other students before you in the ranking table will choose this programme, will they finish the enrolment, will they choose another program and you will get the budget place in the program? This stressful situation continues for about a week or two. Then you can see how it’s changing during the finishing stage when students have made their decision and finished the enrolment process. So in all this mess I ended up to be the top of-the-list candidate for LIS studies. I was happy. To be on top meant to be entitled for a scholarship (100 euro per month). And I registered.
Never since then I would even think of regretting this decision. My 3 years of studies turned out to be the most comfortable time in my life so far. My studies went smoothly – I got very high marks (9 out of 10 on average). My course-mates were very nice and friendly. We were only girls in our year. (Unfortunately LIS is still not that popular among male students. But now they are getting more interested in the programme.) I really enjoyed our lecturers – they are very nice, intelligent and understanding. Program includes some other social modules which are also interesting and very useful. My first year was awesome.
In the second year I stared to work in a medical library. I’m glad that head of the library was opened to take students. In one year you can learn a lot, but it’s still not enough to be ready to work on your own. But it took me about 2 months (part-time) to learn all basic duties and get used to environment. I was happy that I could manage to study and work at the same time. One of the fun parts was my first international conference – BOBCATSSS 2009 in Porto, Portugal.
As my boyfriend (now fiancé) Sendijs decided to study abroad, I made the decision to apply for Erasmus scholarship. I applied to study in Borås, Sweden. I also applied to take intensive Swedish language course which started in August. During these 3 weeks I met really great people. And couple of nice ones in the next 3 months.
In the last week of August the lectures were supposed to start. And there was the surprise – all modules I have applied to were online-modules. I was a bit shocked - basically I could have just stayed at home.
But I had nice company of 4 French, 1 Spanish and 1 Rumanian and we spent a lot time together having nice dinners, playing games, partying and making trips.
I switched one module to a practical experience in Swedish libraries to have at least one module in real life. Online studies were not so hard but it took a lot of self-control to force myself into writing all papers. Another positive aspect was living away from parents on my own. Good experience. Even being apart from Sendijs made our relationship even stronger and proved how much we really love each other. He visited me in Sweden, I visited him in UK. I passed all coursed with my first attempt and got even more credit points than I needed. I also managed to prepare myself for another BOBCATSSS conference (in Parma, Italy) together with Dace Ūdre.
When I came back home to Latvia, I decided to take it easy and concentrate on my dissertation. I chose to take practical experience in Riga Stradins University library (only 1 month) and just visit one module related to my dissertation topic without any marks. As the lecturer was also my tutor, it was a good opportunity to arrange regular meetings. I went to visit Sendijs in March and got stuck in UK because of the ash cloud. I didn’t panic – I have made my practical part of research before and could write my dissertation wherever I was. My tutor was awesome – we made all our meetings via Skype or e-mail. Thanks to her I was really motivated and in the end I got the highest mark (10) for my dissertation.
In general I can only say the best about studying in University of Latvia. My studies were organised, not too overloaded and very interesting.