Your work placement in Latvia is the perfect opportunity to discover that our neighbours to the east are not so far away! This small country, bordered by Lithuania to the south and Estonia to the north, offers an incredible wealth and is still little-known by the general public: take advantage of this opportunity. And if you think Paris is splendid, Riga has nothing to envy it. In fact, the Latvian capital shines for its architecture, which blends very different styles into a harmonious whole. Doing an internship in Latvia also gives you the chance to take a different look at our shared history, or to meet a new culture where almost 15% of residents are stateless. Latvia is a small European Union country that deserves to be discovered: I had the opportunity to go there twice, and I loved the atmosphere, the streets and the bars. In winter, beware of the abysmal cold: you really need to plan to cover up, and that’s true for all the Baltic countries as well as the Scandinavians: you’re not going to walk around in winter in these countries as you might in France or Italy in the middle of winter: take care of yourself ? Enough chit-chat, and let’s go for a quick overview of Latvia!

Budget for your work placement in Latvia

It’s the most expensive of the Baltic countries, but it’s still very affordable. Affordable is a strong word; with a minimum wage of around €500, you’d be forgiven for thinking that prices are aligned to offer people a decent standard of living. In fact, you’ll get accommodation, food and travel for less than €650 a month! There are regular flights every day to Latvia, and it’s not expensive. For a work placement abroad on a tight budget, Latvia can be a great opportunity. Finding accommodation isn’t complicated; there are many dedicated platforms and Facebook groups. As with other internship abroad destinations offered by International Horizons, we strongly recommend that you rent a room with a host family or share a flat: it’s the best way to improve your language skills, to get a social life going quickly when you arrive in your new host country and also an excellent way of reducing accommodation costs.

On the other hand, Latvian gastronomy is very different from what you might find in France or Western Europe: there are many specialities based on blueberries and black bread. But you can find out more about this by reading the blog on culinary specialities in Latvia: it’ll make your mouth water before you arrive in the country!

Local and national transport is also very affordable, so it’s not expensive to visit the country from top to bottom. What’s more, you can take the opportunity to visit neighbouring countries: you can reach them in just a few hours, using more environmentally-friendly means of transport, for less than €20! To find the best ideas and tips, read our blog: I’m in Latvia, where to travel during my work placement abroad. In Latvia, you might as well take the bus or car-share: distances are short, even to visit the neighbours: you’ll save money, and you’ll have an extra drink on the terrace, or two for that matter.

What you need to know

Latvia is a pretty country, with a very surprising history: every year, for example, there is a parade of Nazi veterans through Riga. They celebrate the battle won against the USSR and commemorate the deportation of 15,000 Latvians. In recent years, the parades have been a source of tension with Russia, which takes a very dim view of them. One particular fact should be noted: the Latvian SS did not take part in the deportations and other atrocities, but was a regular army. Another very recent astonishing fact: Latvia offered its only tank to Ukraine, against the invasion with Russia. So much for a little history.

Latvians are very welcoming: of the three Baltic countries, this is the one where we found it easiest to meet people. People are quite open and smiling. In fact, it’s quite easy to talk to people, whether in bars between two tours, or even in the street; people are very approachable, and quite helpful! What’s more, Latvians are very keen to share their culture, give advice on visits and so on. In fact, Latvia isn’t just limited to Riga: there are plenty of small towns to visit, as well as Livonia (yes, it really does exist!), or the towns of Daugavpils and Liepaja. Latvia also has a large coastline: well, you’re not going to go and do your best jet skiing like in Spain or Malta, but it’s also very nice. Although there are seaside resorts in Latvia too, such as Jurmala: although I must admit I’ve never tried it, and I already find it hard to put my feet in the water in Brittany when I go home to see the family, I’m not sure I’ll succeed in Latvia … the water is an average of 16 degrees in June.

On the downside, Latvia is one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to homophobia, with a higher number of homophobic attacks than in other countries, as well as some incredibly violent political comments. We therefore advise people who feel part of the LGBT community not to go to this country for an internship abroad: unlike Lithuania, which is also homophobic, Latvia can be dangerous; despite an improvement in living conditions, the country is still violent towards LGBT people, and there’s no point in taking a risk. What’s more, we don’t recommend it for transgender people, who are regularly targeted by attacks. You’re bound to ask the question: why are we keeping Latvia open? Because change can’t happen without people meeting and talking to each other; and because attitudes are changing and evolving more quickly with the new generation, which is more open than the old.

Your work placement in Latvia

It is one of the fastest-growing countries in the European Union, with the lowest unemployment rate. As a result, there are many opportunities for internships abroad. The primary sector is not very well represented, except for agriculture. Fishing and forestry are two active sectors. There are particularly good opportunities for work placements in the steel industry, mechanical engineering, mechatronics engineering and photonics, as well as all sectors linked to the pharmaceutical industry. After that, it’s like anywhere else: you can find an internship in virtually any field in Latvia.

Ready to leave for your work placement abroad in Latvia? Then prepare your CV in English. Then International Horizons will call you to help you build the best possible internship project. We’ve got lots of tips to boost your mobility abroad. As with all destinations, and Latvia will be no exception, there are a number of points to consider when planning your work placement abroad.

  • Your school’s educational expectations: because it’s important to respect them, this is what will enable you to defend your placement in Lithuania through an oral exam and validate your placement period abroad.
  • Your desires: what skills you want to work on, in what context, through what types of assignments
  • Your language level: if you already speak good English, your assignments will necessarily be more complex and richer than those of someone with a lesser command of the language. Your assignments need to be adapted to enable you to progress and have fun during your placement abroad, and above all not be depressed because you find your placement too hard.
  • The country: Lithuania is a country where there is racism and homophobia. It’s important to be aware of this before you go, to avoid feeling bad or excluded when you’re there. Even if rights are improving, they still lag behind those in Estonia.

Convinced that your next internship is in Latvia? Or do you need advice on destinations, or feedback on the country from one of the members of our team? Don’t hesitate, contact us: there will always be someone happy to help you: contact is entirely free and without obligation.

For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.