Name, Surname: Yulia Ghumman

Age: 23 years

Country of origin: Ukraine

Hobbies: jogging, photographing, travelling, European projects, ecological, green and healthy lifestyle

Currently: studying at Faculty of Engineering Economics and Management of the Riga Technical University – Entrepreneurship and Management 

The silent phone and mom’s varenyky

„That was the toughest period in my life... the survival time... for the first time abroad, new country, different language,” admits Ukrainian Yulia, who lives in Latvia relatively not a long time. Before arrival she had no illusions or stereotypes about Latvia and the life here. She makes her opinion on her own. The only thing she knew before arrival was the international competition “New Wave” that takes place in Jurmala and concerts in Dzintari concert hall she watched with pleasure on Ukrainian TV channels when she was a little girl. 

Yulia arrived to Latvia in late autumn 2010. The studies at Riga Technical University need to be started in February next year. „The time from arrival to beginning of the studies was emotionally very difficult. My family, friends, studies remained in Ukraine...” She told that before moving to Riga she studied International Economics at Ternopil (Ukraine) Institute of Social and Information Technologies, was the member of student parliament and one of the leaders in her educational institution. Day-to-day she spent meeting with people, managing various projects, organizing events. However, the life made its own corrections and she had to move to live to another country. “Mobile was unusually silent; no one was calling me and I had no one to call to talk since I didn`t know anybody here except my husband Zeshan who arrived to Latvia a year ago from his country of origin – Pakistan to acquire here the profession of doctor. Currently he is a resident at the University of Latvia”. 

The ordinary day Yulia spent at home impatiently waiting for her husband to come home from his family doctor practice. “Sometimes thanks to Skype she could communicate with family and friends in Ukraine. „I was missing my friend Inna a lot and most of fall – my mom and her varenyky with mashed potatoes...” However, there was one thing that made her life easier in Latvia and frequently helped to forget – television channels in Russian language she watched before at home in Ukraine. 

With the help of husband Zeshan step by step Yulia get acquainted with Riga and practical issues like, for example, the use of public transport. „He was a fantastic hand and support. Actually such assistants would be useful for everyone who choose Latvia as their living place (for a long-term or not so long),” tells Yulia smiling. „Usually friends from Latvian high-schools help students from other countries, in my case the assistant was my husband.”

Chicken biryani and the spice from Norway 

When you live in another country far from the own one and especially if there are members in the family from different nations and countries as it is the case of Yulia then it is it is quite difficult to keep, for example, the eating traditions. Mostly Yulia with her husband try to cook the same food as in Ukraine since the necessary spices for Ukrainian food it is possible to find in the supermarkets much easier.  Sometimes, we receive Pakistani spices from Norway, and then cook chicken biryani and other Pakistani national food combining it with different Ukrainian salads.  

The Latvian police and comfortable transport network 

According to Yulia the sharpest difference between Ukraine and Latvia is the state system. "Latvia’s great advantage that it is a European Union country; it has European ideology and support. People here have a real influence on the things that going on in Latvia, comparing to Ukraine. Also you feel safe in Latvia at any time of the day or night. Latvian people can be proud with their police. 

She has observed that also transport system is very well organized, at least in Riga. People are very open and nice, for example, sellers in supermarkets smile and wish a nice day and that gives a positive charge. Unlike in Ukraine people in Latvia smile more.

Equal attitude

In contrast with other students or workers who have arrived to Latvia and who have different skin color or appearance Yulia has never felt different attitude only because she is from Ukraine. On the contrary – frequently people think she is native. At the same time Yulia admits that if a person is visually different in Latvia he or she often is seen as a foreigner and then it is more difficult to find yourself a place, and to deal with all the immigration procedures. „Of course, it is the same in other European countries (laws, procedures etc.), however, everyone wants to be treated equally without any prejudices! It is the same also for Latvians who have gone to the foreign countries – you also want to be treated like all the others!” reasons Yulia. 

Positive runners and the Latvian cottage

“Latvians are positive people who love their country. There are many celebrations and they know how to celebrate. And what surprises me - they run for a bus! ☺ In Ukraine no one does it, better wait for the next one!” Yulia replies when asked about how she sees Latvian people. She has observed that many people do sport day-by-day jogging on sidewalk tracks. It means they care for their health! One more thing Yulia has become fond of while living in Latvia is cottage. Because in Ukraine there is no such dainty like cottage. 

With open heart and patience 

„Before arriving to Riga, I think it is very useful to check the website There is a lot of interesting information that might be helpful before to start to live in Latvia, especially in Riga,” replies Yulia when asked what to recommend to other people who are planning to arrive in Latvia. 

Also Yulia suggests be patient and open! In her view, some people are not satisfied or are even disappointed with processes and things happening here, but others – on the contrary – love this country a lot! 

“And you should always remember that there is no heaven on earth, there is no country where all is perfect, and you should put your energy and power to achieve something. And if the person has an open heart and positive attitude – there will be a click inside, and the feeling that Latvia is your home will work!” 

Latvian language training and Euronews 

One of the challenges everyone has to take account of when arriving to Latvia to study, work or moving by spouse, is training of Latvian language. In case of Yulia her studies are in English and the first semesters she studied Latvian language in the university but later in the framework of courses organized by the Latvian Language Agency. However, she admits that if she had more free time (currently Yulia is writing the BA paper in RTU and plans to go to Turiba University), she would like to continue to study the Latvian language. 

To contact with the family in Ukraine Yulia uses Facebook, Vkontakte and Skype. Also she watches TV channels available in Latvia, for example, discovery channels, and she appreciates a lot that it is possible to watch TV in three languages (Latvian, Russian and English). “Fight for control panel” is also the case in the family of Yulia.” ☺ If Yulia prefers Russian channels, then her husband wants to watch European news channels, for example, Euronews in English. 

Commitment to establish own non-governmental organization (NGO)

Yulia is full of determination to make in Latvia her NGO and she believes that non-governmental organizations are and can be cooperation partners to people who reside, study, work and live in Latvia. 

Yulia dreams about her NGO that would be related to popularization of cricket game among Latvian people. Cricket, the English game, which was later very popular in Far East, India and Australia, the colonies of England, in Latvia has entered relatively recently. This game play people from different nations – Indians, Pakistani and Latvian, and this game is an excellent example that sport unites the most diverse people. 



This publication has been produced with the support by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals. Funding has been allocated from European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (75%) and Latvian state budget (25%). The responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the Society Integration Foundation.


May 19, 2012
by NGO Latvia
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„Society Integration Foundation has established the e-platform in the framework of the project „TOGETHER. UNITED. ACTIVE.” (contract No. IF/2011/1.a./16) funded by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (75%) and Latvian state budget (25%). The responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the Society Integration Foundation, as well as information posted is each user`s own responsibility.”

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