I Got a Job: In Latvia, Ieva’s a substitute mother


Ieva’s Latvia university job was created to help deal with an increase in exchange students. That’s a goal supported by the European Investment Bank, the EU bank. But her job involves some surprising responsibilities.

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  Es atradu darbu: Ieva Latvijā ir studentu otrā mamma

The University of Latvia set out on an ambitious plan a couple of years ago to double the number of international students—a plan supported by a €30 million loan from the European Investment Bank, the EU bank, to build a brand new, state-of-the-art study centre and research facility.

A graduate of the university, Ieva Gerge works as an international coordinator in the international mobility unit of the department of student services, helping international students who come from as far away as Indonesia, Chile and China integrate into life at the university by assisting in practical and academic matters. “When students have problems, some of them call their mom,” Ieva says. “Some come to the international office.”

The new-look University of Latvia is an exciting place to work – and study. “We’re building one of the most comprehensive leading research centres in the Baltics, which will eventually house more than 15 000 students, 13 faculties and over 20 research institutes.  It’s quite exciting,” says Ieva.

She has also been an international student herself, in Norway and Spain, and knows the very practical daily tasks that confuse students in a foreign country—from teaching the difference between a tram and a trolleybus to people who have never come into contact with these forms of public transport, to help in registering for courses.

Sometimes, however, the students require more emotional, psychological support. That’s when Ieva has to play mother.

Ieva’s job is one of millions created with the support of the EU bank.  If you take the investments signed by the EIB Group in 2017 alone, which is when the loan to the University of Latvia was signed, these loans are expected to have raised EU GDP by 1.1% and to have created 1.2 million jobs by 2021.  Even in 2036, there will still be a 0.7% increase in EU GDP as a result of the EIB's investments from that one single year, as well as 650,000 extra jobs.

Ieva is also doing a master’s degree in financial analysis at the university. “I’ve been going to the lectures after work in the evenings, so I’m really here full-time, I love the place,” she says.

There is a tradition that undergraduates should always take the side stairs of the university’s historic, 19th century main building. According to legend the central stairs were used by students from the wealthier families, who spent their university days partying and practicing fencing, and didn’t do particularly well in exams. The diligent students who took their studies seriously and passed their exams took the side stairs. 

“The bachelor students say that they don't believe the story, but still prefer using one of the side stairs,” says Ieva.  “Just to be on the safe side.”

There are no legends about the new buildings on campus yet – but the students are bound to come up with something soon.