The mission of the Student Union is to represent the interests of all the university students within the university administration at different levels. It brings together the self-governments of higher education institutions of Latvia. This organization was reestablished in 1994. The members of the Union participate in the university’s Senate. The Student Union’s financial, juridical, communications and social committees consider specific issues. The Student Union organizes different seminars, competitions, festivals, concerts, job markets, and parties. There are several student clubs at each university. The Latvian Student Union address: Baznīcas iela 5-20, Riga, LV-1010, tel: +371 7034673, web: www.lsa.lv, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org FRATERNITIES AND SORORITIES
There are 20 fraternities, 2 academical units and 11 sororities. For more information please consult: http://www.lu.lv/piedava/korporacijas.html
As a nation, Latvians love competitions of all kinds. A special patriotic spirit arises when the world championships in ice hockey, bobsleigh or winter biathlon take place. The artificial bobsleigh track was built in 1986 in Sigulda (some 53 km north - east of Riga). There are only 12 more artificial tracks in the world. You can start at two different points: the ‘’ladies’ ‘’ start (1000 m run) and the ‘’men’s’’ start (1,200 m run).
Amateurs without any training can use the rubber raft that seats six persons and has an average speed of 60 km/hr. In summer you can go down in a four - seat sleigh on wheels, nicknamed Mad Mix, which seats a pilot, a break - person and two passengers (It costs approx. 4 Ls per person). There are a number of skiing tracks in Sigulda, Krimulda, Baili, Mezezers and Gaizinkalns.
Basketball, street-ball, football, volleyball, and swimming are the most popular sports in summertime. Aerobics and fitness clubs can be found in every city and town.
The history of the Latvian culture, can be found in its folklore. There are 217 996 Latvian folk songs (‘’dainas’’ in Latvian). During the 19th century, Krišjānis Barons, known as the Father of Latvian folk songs, gathered, systematized, and published them in a seven-volume encyclopedic edition. Most of the songs have outspoken social character, often ironic and sarcastic. There is a Song and Dance Festival in Latvia every five years. The festival usually takes place in late June, and lasts a week. The number of amateur singers and dancers usually is around 20,000. There are a number of international music and theatre festivals, like the Opera Festival in Riga and Sigulda, the Festival of Ancient and Renaissance Music in Bauska and Rundale, the Festival of Chamber Music in Cesis, several Jazz and Pop Music festivals and concerts. University students are invited to take part in university choirs, folk dance groups, student bands, theater studios and all cultural activities organized by the student clubs.
Riga, with less than one million inhabitants, can be considered the heart of the Baltic region. The narrow streets, warehouses from Middle Ages, dwelling houses and numerous churches in the Old Town are worth seeing. In some places, one has the feeling of having traveled in time, and returned to the previous centuries. The best places and buildings to see in the Old Riga are St. Peter’s Church, Dome Church, John’s Church, John’s Court, Cat’s House, the Riga Castle, Three Brothers, the Powder Tower, the Swedish Gate, the Freedom Monument, and numerous other places like parks, squares, museums and gardens. Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) is one of the architectural styles that dominates Riga and makes it so unique. The examples of it are found everywhere in the city, but you will see the most expressive ensembles built at the beginning of the 20th century gathered together in Alberta, Elizabetes, Antonijas, Vīlandes, and Strēlnieku streets. In every city you will find a number of museums, art galleries and concert halls to get better acquainted with the history, art and music of Latvia.
If you have come to study to Latvia, you should spend some time out of town. Visit Jūrmala, the ‘’Latvian Rivera’’ or Sigulda, the “Switzerland of Latvia’’, easy accessible by train. Jurmala is a famous spa-town 25 km from Riga and stretches along the cost of the Baltic Sea. Its 30 km long sandy golden beach and pine forests attract holidaymakers, especially in spring and summertime. The architecture of Jurmala with its small wooden houses still keeps the charm of the turn of the century. Sigulda is located in the picturesque valley of the Gauja River. Hilly riverbanks, caves in sandstone, ruins of the medieval castles make this town so unique.
Latvia is a country full of scenic surprises. The most wonderful thing about it is its nature. You will miss a lot by not seeing the Slitere nature reserve in the northern part of Kurzeme, or the system of lakes in Latgale, the Rundale Palace, the castle of Jelgava, the Gauja National Park and the coastlines of the country. The famous architect Rastrelli constructed the Rundale Palace and the castle of Jelgava. The main city in the Vidzeme district is Valmiera, located on the banks of the Gauja River. There is a horse-riding center on the Lake Burtnieku. Liepaja and Venstpils are famous of their capacious harbors as well as architecture of the beginning of the century.
The association "Countryside Holidays" (www.celotajs.lv, Kugu iela 11, Riga, tel: + 371 7617600; fax: + 371 7830041) offers accommodation in the countryside and organises week-end trips, fishing and boat rides, horse-riding. “Latvia Tours” (Kalku iela 8, Riga, tel: + 371 7085001, fax: + 371 7080020) offers tours to the Open Air Museum, the Rundale Palace, Sigulda, Kurzeme, Cesis and Latgale.