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Nordic Summer University in Latvia


By nursing student Parnuuna Eriksen


This summer, I participated in Nordic Summer University for the second consecutive summer - and it is a great opportunity for students. It was exciting to join this year, because I had chosen International Relations and Human Rights as my study groups.

Nordic Summer University (NSU) is a Nordic network for interdisciplinary research. It is an independent academic institution that organizes symposia that attracts international participants across disciplines in the Nordic and Baltic countries. NSU fundamentally works as a generator of ideas. It seeks to develop scientific and innovative initiatives by building international networks and communities that deal with interdisciplinary research and critical thinking. NSU is a non-hierarchical environment - with artists, bachelor students, graduate students and PhD students, researchers and other professionals participating. The activities of NSU consist of thematic study groups, each meeting regularly in the Nordic and Baltic countries during the summer and winter season over a three-year period.


Wednesday morning I took the metro to Kastrup Airport - and at the gate I met Danish NSU participants, whom I knew from last year. When we arrived in Riga (capital of Latvia) we were picked up by bus, where I met other NSU participants and was driven to a small town called Saulkrasti.

When we arrived to Saulkrasti, we got the key to our caravans. Almost all participants lived in caravans, and that was the big topic all week. Some got good caravans, some got less good, and others got so bad caravans that they had to cover them in plastic, so no water would come in. But all 167 participants had fun.

In NSU there are nine study groups and a children's group, where the children of the participants are taken care of. Study groups start at 09.00 and ends at 15.00 - and everything is in English. Every day at 15.30 there is a presentation in the big hall for everyone, then we have dinner and participate in cultural programs. Here we got to see Latvian folk dance and listen to a girls' choir.

In our study group there were various presentations on International Relations and Human Rights. There were, among other things, presentations of religion and ethnicity in Polish primary schools, how to understand human rights, the security of Danish soldiers in relation to war, and relations with other countries.

I was asked several times how I ended up in this group as a nursing student, because they could not really see the connection between nursing and international relations and human rights. They got a brief explanation about the Greenlandic health care system's relationship with Denmark and Iceland, and about patient rights.

The environment in NSU is always good - with very good relationships. Each year, there is a general meeting where you choose which study groups should be introduced next year, and each country has a representative - Greenland is linked with Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Sunday is always a day off - where you have the opportunity to go to another city - where a round trip is arranged. I went to Sigulda, where the Gauja National Park is located - and then we went to Castle. In the evening there was a picnic at the beach.

As a tradition, the last day we play football: jante vs. dante (Humanities vs. Social Sciences), and after that there was a gala dinner with dance, and local musicians played the whole evening.

You meet a lot of people from the Nordic countries and the Baltic countries with different backgrounds in NSU.

It has been a learning experience - and I can only recommend others to join NSU.

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