Today we have met a young smart and brilliant Latvian girl, her name is Anita, she lives in Nijmegen and she concluded her first master in Linguistics one month ago. After it she has just started a Research master in Language and Communication which is part of a new joint master program offered by the Radboud University Nijmegen and the Tilburg University.
Anita, you have a very intercultural education background, I know you speak fluently four languages, respectively, Italian, English, Russian and of course Latvian…
« I took my bachelor degree in Latvia, but at first I did not know what to study exactly after high-school. I was interested in Journalism and at the same time there was a very interesting bachelor program on Intercultural Relations between Latvia and Italy. The same year I finished high-school a new cycle was about to begin – it was something totally different and challenging so I decided to do it. »
Get a very multicultural education seems to be a very strategic choice made by several European students who decide to invest in their future moving abroad, getting used to new habits and lifestyles. Why did you decide to move to the Netherlands for your master ?
«Well, my sister was studying in the Netherlands before me, she could vouch for the high level of education since I was looking for Universities with high standards in terms of education and research. Especially the latter aspect was very important for me and it turned out that Radboud University was also a great university for research »
Leaving your own country for new challenges abroad is not always easy as may appear, there are several aspects which must be taken into account such as the new culture you are living in, the new habits and also the new lifestyle of that country. How is you daily life in the Netherlands ? Is there something you miss the most from your own country?
« If I don’t have to attend lectures I usually go to my office at the MPI (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics ) to keep on working on my current research. If I have to compare my lifestyle here to my Latvian one, I would say that here I am a bit antisocial in the sense that I am really focused on my studies and research so I cannot invest a lot of time in establishing new friendships which require time. Culturally speaking I really miss my Latvian tasty food, I also miss going out because the way of partying is completely different from the Dutch one. However, the thing I miss the most is that feeling of belonging which is the result of years and years spent in your own country, the feeling you have when you cross a bridge you know since you’ve been six, the mental association you have when you travel through a path you know perfectly. »
It clearly appears that you’re investing time, efforts and money in your education, as previously mentioned this type of choice is driven by the added value that such experience can bring both from the personal growth point of view and for the educational enrichment itself. What are your future plans? After your master degrees would you like to remain in the Netherlands?
« I would like to apply for a PhD after my master, I want to become a researcher in the field of Language and Communication. From the very start my main interest was Multimodal Communication but for my PhD I would like to link it to Developmental psychology. Well, it all depends on the chance to find a PhD position suitable for me, I wouldn’t mind changing country since I believe it would be extremely valuable to change setting in order to grasp more knowledge from a different perspective.»
Apart from your deep interest in Communication, Language, and Psychology, I know that you are also an active photographer. Few of your works are available here www.anitagigante.blogspot.com . Could you tell us a bit more about it and when exactly you started with photography?
«I’ve always liked to take pictures, I started with a basic digital camera, the cheapest one you buy before a trip somewhere. I was always trying to make better and more artistic pictures, that was the challenge. In 2011 I went on Erasmus to Italy, there I realized I wanted to move to a higher level so I started taking pictures of landscapes and architecture because I was hesitant to ask people to pose for me when my skills were not that good yet. I experimented first, trying to improve my technique every time till my transition from landscapes to portraiture began. It was in 2013, precisely in Sicily where I realized my first “real” artistic photo shoot with my Latvian friend . From that moment onwards I only focussed on working with people. The main important thing for me is that the models are happy with the pictures I am taking; they have to recognize them, like them, and identify themselves. Moreover, when shooting my personal projects I never pay to the models, it ‘s always a collaboration; so I want to make sure they love the end product and they feel proud to have participated in bringing it to life»
Latvia entered the EU in 2004, exactly 10 years later move a step forward to the Eurozone. How was perceived this change by the public opinion? Which is the general sentiment about it ? How do you perceive the European Union?
«In my opinion, the entrance in EU was perceived like something that has just to be done and it seemed like a logical step forward for a small country like Latvia. As regards the adaptation of the Euro currency there was a fair currency change campaign; the state promoted a fair change, so the public opinion appeared to be rather satisfied. It was pretty funny the fact that I came back and I could use the same currency I was using here. Thankfully we didn’t have to face problems like Italy when the currency was changing.
When I think about the European Union I think about this great initiative to gather different European countries and making it possible to gain experiences all around Europe. This is a great chance for young people to discover new cultures and to broaden their horizons. What I find really interesting is that when I was younger I was amazed by meeting people from a different country, you hear a foreign language and you try to guess the nationality, maybe you chat with them and you discover they are from Portugal.Well this kind of surprise effect doesn’t happen anymore because nowadays our countries are so multicultural and open that several languages and cultures coexisting at the same time is absolutely normal. I would say that we are the transition generation, the one which noticed this shift to a more globalized reality.»