Latvia question....

Old Dec 26th, 2004, 01:25 PM
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Latvia question....

Please don't anyone take offense at this, but I need to know if Latvia is politically stable at the current time. When my daughter is thinking hard about going there as a youth-exchange student, I need to know all I can about Latvia.

I posted another question about Latvia and received some great feedback. Hopefully this will produce the same or better, without making anybody mad. It's certainly not my intent.

Thanks

Her decision has to be made quickly.
magnumholmes is offline  
Old Dec 26th, 2004, 02:35 PM
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According to most sources (US State and Commerce Departments, Kroll, Transparancy International and others) as well as most experts whom I work with, Latvia is a stable country (and the three Baltic republics are more stable than the rest of the former Soviet Union). All three are now members of the European Union.

There is more corruption than in Western European countries or the US, but that doesn't affect the short and long term stabilty of the country. As was mentioned elsewhere, a significant issue facing Latvia is what do do about the significant Russian minority-most are denied citizenship (as they must pass a citizenship test that includes Latvian language skills, difficult as most attend schools in Russian) and eventually either the Latvian government or the EU will have to work out a settlement.

I would have no problem sending my child there for a year (nor, for that matter, most of the former Soviet Union).

A larger concern to me than macro political considerations is what former students who have gone through the same program in Latvia thought of their experience--most of these programs are very, very well run, but the more knowledge you and your child have the more prepared you will both be for this experience.
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Old Dec 26th, 2004, 02:59 PM
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Having two daughters who did exchange years as teens, I completely understand your concern. There are some great travel pages for Latvia on Virtual Tourist. Start with http://www.virtualtourist.com/vt/22b/

Goood luck to your daughter. It will be a life changing, wonderful experience and will make her a global thinker.
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Old Dec 26th, 2004, 04:21 PM
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I lived abroad as a college student, and it paved the path for my career and changed my life. It was the best experience I could have had at that age. Latvia is absolutely safe, and currently part of the European Union. Why don't you speak to someone here in the US who sponsors this program - they can likely put you in contact with a Latvian student or parent who can answer your questions first-hand.

As I believe I mentioned in an earlier post to you, I am doing business there currently, and have not seen ANY corruption. That's not to say it doesn't exist, but it's certainly not overt. I'm not sure what you've heard that would suggest it's not politically stable, but perhaps you could post your specific concern and someone could address it.
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Old Dec 27th, 2004, 03:55 AM
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Absolutely safe and stable from my experience, too.
I don't see of how corruption might affect an exchange student, but anyway, having lived and worked there, I never experienced any corruption problems either.
The local currency, the Lat (LVL) is absoultely stable, too allowing you to safely budget that trip.
As indicated before, Latvia is a member of the EU, so I presume inquiring about its political stability is somewhat like asking whether Sweden, Denmark or Germany are politically stable nations. Thinking of Italy, the answer might be harder considering the number of changes their goverments have been facing over decades. Still, Italy absolutely stable, too.
Relax about that trip - and figure out where that exchange leads your daughter to: There is a big difference in culture, climate and general living conditions between Turkey and Latvia!
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Old Jan 7th, 2005, 04:01 PM
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I have an exchange student FROM Latvia now, and my husband's parents immigrated to escape Stalin. There absolutely IS corruption in Latvia now - and the work ethic still suffers from the soviet influence after all these years. The Russian Mafia is aive and well - and the police are just as corrupt. However, having said that, she your daughter should be physically safe - just warn her about teenage alcoholism and smoking, etc. The schools there demand far less from their students - and many pf the younger generation have been influenced by the old soviet "do the bare minimum".

All in all - Latvia is a beautiful country - many people are working very hard to overcome the former soviet influence, and are very nice. She will come home with many great experiences and will grow tremendously. Make sure she goes with no expectations, and doesn't lose her own sense of ethcs.

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