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Only thing that matters

May 1, 2010


Ieva Cielava

“There are many girls, who hide their bodies behind big sweaters and too wide trousers, but the thin and fragile hands betray them, and everybody can notice that they have some problems,” explains the Department head of Crisis and Depression in the Psychology and Narcology Hospital of Riga Zigrīda Taranda.

Bulimia, anorexia and overeating are diseases which attract young girls who believe they will become more beautiful if they are as thin as possible.

Taranda says there are typically two reasons for having an eating disorder. Girls may have experienced some unsolved interpersonal conflicts (she has been told she is ugly or fat or classmates laughed about her look.), or they suffer from a mental illness and the eating disorder is just a small part of the problem.

“To deal with this second group is very complicated; you may explain to her about healthy foods, show her an accurate  reflection in the mirror, or try to persuade her to admit that she is too thin, but they just don’t hear you,” Taranda says.

The only place where girls can be treated for disorders for free is the Psychology and Narcology hospital of Riga Girls have to stay in the same ward with people who suffer from depressions. This may be one reason why so many girls don’t even try to find help and try to deal with it by themselves.

This is how three girls describe, what is going on with them:

L: “It all began when I was teenager. It wasn’t because I was fat, on the contrary I was the thinnest girl in the class. I felt undervalued and unwanted. I didn’t try to get help; I can cure me by myself. There are still times when I look in the mirror, and I feel that I am too fat, but I don’t start starvation again. Instead of that I do some sports. My body doesn’t allow me to forget the horror of starvation, I still have consequences from starvation – my hair still falls out more than it should and my nails break.”

A: “The hardest part of all of this is that my family doesn’t know anything about it. I make excuses for why I don’t want to eat with them. Previously I had a deal with my younger sister who would eat my food, but she started to threaten to tell mom. I haven’t tried to look for help, but my boyfriend helps me a lot. He doesn’t know exactly, what is wrong with me, but he takes care of me and now half of my complexes are gone. Sometimes I even wear dresses at home when we are together, but if someone comes to visit us, I change my clothes fast.”

I: “I think society is to blame for girls being sick with eating disorders! Even friends start giving advice about the ideal weight and look. What is the funniest thing, when you follow their pieces of advice and get thin, they start to laugh that you are too thin. I hate that! I have an overeating attack again, but I won’t throw up this time, I promise that to myself…”

Writing tips

May 1, 2010


Zane Leite

Sometimes it is incredible how long it takes to complete or even begin our papers. Of course – it takes a long time because we are not working on them.


Lack of organization and planning are quite widespread problems for students.

However, the problem can be solved by following few tips. First, try concentrating on only on thing at a time. Doing too many things at a time leads to problems. Students should establish a working plan – and then follow it.

There are several techniques that can be used to improve concentration. When studying sometimes listening to specific music can help. Try it!

Plants are more alive than we think

April 30, 2010

By Linda Parfenoviča

Some scientists says that plants respond to people`s thoughts, emotions and commands, and also to unformulated threats, such as the sudden appearance of a person, who did not treat them well.

The phenomena of plant`s secret lives is called “primary perception” or “Backster effect” and was discovered by Cleve Backster  (born 1924) who was a polygraph expert and former CIA lie detector specialist.

In 1966 he did an experiment with plants by connecting a polygraph machine to a Dracaena which gave an immediate response to what he was thinking.

In picture – Cleve Backster.
Photo from:

When doing experiment, Backster wanted to test whether plants can really feel. He was thinking about burning a plant`s leaf, but then he saw that the polygraph recording pen started to move rapidly to the top of the chart, immediately after having this idea on his mind.

Backster wasn`t the first one, who assumed that plants gives a response. In 1900 an Indian scientist Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose started his researches on plants and came to similar conclusions. Now there is an institute of science and technology in Kolkata, India, what is called in Bose`s name.

Introduction to Forex

April 26, 2010

By Klinta Dzene

There are a list of positive aspects for working in the Foreign Exchange (Forex) market, which are: 1) the market is open for trading activities 24 hours, five workdays; 2) It is possible to work wherever you are as long as you have internet connection; 3) it has „liquidity” – which means – if you want to cancel a deal it is relatively easy and doesn’t cause additional losses; 4) you don’t need any previous education in economics and 5) there are no age restrictions.

As mentioned here, to become a trader generally requires three phases – first, you need to make a demo account to learn and experiment with monetary trade principles and techniques without losing money. It is possible to download trading platform.

Then, when you have experience and are confident about skills you can start with real money (don’t start trading with significant resources until you have at least two months experience). When the trader has reached a professional level and is confident, the trader adds customers.

Broker companies offer trader training courses, and usually they have introduction evenings about main principles of the market. There are video lecture introduction about Forex from UK trader.

This video explains the common mistakes of beginner traders. While it is easy to learn strategies, it is hard to make a profit. Common mistakes of beginners include treating Forex market as a gambling place and trusting only their intuition. Keep in mind – broker companies make money when the individual trader loses.

Warning-global warming

April 26, 2010

By Laura Vasermane

The change in climate is obvious to everybody because glaciers are melting, the global temperature is changing, and the weather often surprises us.

One popular opinion is that global warming is caused by transportation, factories etc, but sometimes our behaviour at home can be a cause for concern too.[1]

But there are some things you can do to make your home more greener. You can start by paying attention to the use of electricity, changing light-bulbs, saving water and installing a more efficient heating system.

One of the greatest threats caused by global warming is the shortage of clean and fresh drinking water. Scientists have discovered some astonishing facts about our use of water.[2] Did you know that it takes 6 800 liters of water to produce 0, 5 kg of beef? And a pair of jeans take twice that much water! Water is used in every step of the manufacturing process of these and other products so by knowing which products use less water, you can help saving the basic element of our existence.

You can calculate your average use of water  and find more handy tips on how to live green.

So do you care about your environment? Share your creative ways to save the Earth!

Picture retrieved from



Freakibike – more than just a bike

April 26, 2010

By Oskars Treimanis

The Latvian freakbike is part of worldwide mutually unrelated social movement.

A freakbike is an unusual, original looking bicycle. The best ones include metallic waste and pipes welded together. But the parts are not the thing that matters the most, it is imagination and originality. The freakbike is sculpture that is functioning.

The main idea of it is to make a unique, environmentally friendly means of movement by your own hands from the parts that don’t need to be bought but can be found in your old barn or dumpster. Your bike does not need to be shiny and glossy, it does not need to cost a lot of money.

There are several freakbike clubs around the world such as Freakbike nation, Rat patrol and others. The Latvian club, located in Andrejsala, Riga is called “Apokalipses jātnieki” (Riders of Apocalypse).

The first meeting of the four founders of the movement was in 2006. They take part in various festivals and exhibitions, organize workshops and cycle races, but the main idea is to popularize the lifestyle and not pollute the environment.

There are workshops held in the Andrejsala where everyone can join. There are no specific dates posted, when mass – workshops are held, but everyone can contact Latvian freakbike through email – or phone – 29335436

Do you want to talk about it?

April 21, 2010


Rita Alika

Schools are not always a healthy psychological place for children and teenagers. Sometimes children do not understand what they are doing and can offend, chaff or derogate others without realizing it. Social workers in the school try to help children who have problems and maybe speak about their problems.

Confidential phone-line for children and teenagers is as so a possible solution. There are 3 phone-lines for different operators – Lattelecom 80009000, Bite 1860, Tele2 28809000. Lattelecom provides help 24 hours a day but the other two are ready to help from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. There are eight workers in the charity organization who are willing to listen to children and offer advice daily.

One concern for experts is the preparation volunteers receive. Although volunteers are trained they do not always have college degrees in psychology.

As an experiment this reporter pretended to have one of the most common problems among female teenagers in schools: no boyfriend – if a girl doesn’t have a boyfriend she must be ugly and have something wrong with her; girls feel lonely and think that everyone is against them. During the experimental call some more information was given including the girl being a virgin among all classmates in the 12th grade and this reporter said her mother yells at home because of weird behavior not studying almost at all.

At the beginning of the conversation, the phone counselor tried to get a picture of my situation. She asked different questions and tried to find out my real motives for wanting the boyfriend and being so dependent on peers’ opinions. She asked some questions to check if  I was depressed. She asked if there was a social worker in my school who could talk this thing out with me. When I said that I don’t know about this, she said that there are different psychologists whom I could speak with, and it could help me. When I said that my mother also yelled at me for changes in my behavior like not studying, going to strange parties with a badcrowd the phone consular asked some more questions to find out if I had some threat or if someone was beating me. She said there were institutions that could help me. One that she mentioned was “The state inspectorate for protection of children’s right”.

The most common reasons for calling during the last year (2009) were relationships with others and relationships with parents. Mostly people are angry or desperate while they are calling, and their emotional condition is unstable, according to statistics. There are no available statistics figures of how many children call for help but google keyword tools showed about 320 monthly searches.

“It is very important issue to speak about,” said Aigars (a last year psychology student). “The situation in Latvia regarding emotional violence is a serious topic and mostly people just don’t solve it. In general, there is an opinion that emotional problems are not problems, and we don’t have to deal with them.”

Of course children and teenagers are easily influenced therefore it is so important to have professionals work with them. The phone services and school social workers are part of the effort in Latvia to reach them.

Copyrights of the photo to Greg Desiatov

Protecting those who are weaker

April 18, 2010


Sandra Goge

April is the worldwide month of laboratory animal protection when campaigns against animal testing are organized.

The people who use and authorize the use of animals in laboratory experiments ere not always required to report numbers so no one knows for sure how many animals are used in laboratory experiments but informed estimates put the world-wide figure at around 250 million a year. It’s about 125,000 an hour or, approximately 2,000 animals a minute, say representatives of  “International Fund for Animal Welfare”.

Experimentation on animals is called vivisection and is defined as cutting up or operating on a living animal usually for physiological or pathological investigation. Animals are used and killed for education, breeding, defense research, for toxicological, cosmetic, drug tests etc. Vernon Coleman, director of, “Fighting for Animals,” says that vivisection is probably the best and longest established form of organized and officially acknowledged animal cruelty.

Solvita Viba, the chairwoman of the Latvian Animal Protection Ethics Council and director of, “Animal Friend Fund,” says laboratory animal protection now is an important topic because people rarely are informed about vivisection and don’t know how many products used in everyday life are actually tested on animals.

Speaking about the effectiveness and necessity of testing on animals, Viba says that less that 2 percent of human diseases are found in animals and 95 percent of treatments tested on animals are useless and dangerous for humans. Today there are so many alternatives like testing on human brain cells, using molecular methods or designing computer models but too many companies are not willing to explore these alternatives to killing animals, Viba says..

To point out the absurdity of animal testing, Viba cites Professor Charles R. Magel who says, “Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are like us.’ Ask the experimenters why it is morally OK to experiment on animals, and the answer is ‘Because the animals are not like us.’ Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.”

“The saddest thing about the situation in Latvia is that products that are easiest to access in the biggest shops are mostly tested on animals, and people aren’t informed about that, so informing people is the first thing that has to be done,” says Viba. Most frequently used cosmetic products like L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, Garnier, Johnson & Johnson etc. are in the black register, but there are many accessible products like Madara, The Body Shop, Avon, Oriflame, Nivea etc. that are cruelty-free, so the main thing is to educate our nation, she says.

That’s why every year in April many informative events are organized, and this year won’t be an exception. Soon in the “Animal Friend” homepage for will list information about upcoming events. Viba invites everybody to attend Latvian IOS (Institute of Organic Synthesis) on April 23 where discussion about testing on animals in Latvia will occur.

To help stop experimentation on animals people are asked to look for additional information, to choose cruelty-free products (list of companies that do/don’t test in animals can be found at ), to donate money only to organizations that are against animal testing and to demonstrate against any form of cruelty to animals.

The main question for every consumer is – if the companies believe an ingredient is so harmful it must be tested on animals, do you really want to use it?

PETA Anti-Animal testing video (Warning: video might contain unpleasant and violent scenes!)

Floorball star of LU

April 18, 2010

By Girts Smelters

Martins Druvkalns, (born in 1988) is a Latvian floorball player for the national mens team, men under- 19 national team and Latvian student team in world championships.  Currently Druvkalns plays for Hipolizings floorball league club “CelTik Lekrings” and is a full time student at University of Latvia. His preferred position is defender, but is capable of operating as a central forward as well.

At the moment Druvkalns is the 3rd best goal scorer on the team and 30th in league, as his team “CelTik Lekrings” has just won the regular season and are preparing for play off games. “Celtik Lekrings” is the four time champions of Latvia and are looking forward to defending their title. Druvkalns has played for “CelTik Lekrings” for 5 years.

Druvkalns is studying International Economical Affairs at the University of Latvia and is a third year student. “It’s not a problem to combine academic studies and sports. I have my lectures all day, practices are on the evenings, and games are on weekends usually”, says Martins. “The only problem is that studies take place in Riga, but the  games and practices are in Cesis(90 km from Riga), so I have to drive all the way almost every day, but I have already gotten used to that”, Druvkalns says.

When asked why he is working so hard- playing and studying, Druvkalns says: “In Latvia floorball is not fully professional yet, so you can’t earn a lot of money only by playing. Also an athlete is only able to perform his best only until age of 35-38, after that you have to work, and it is much easier to find a job if you are educated.”

Study credits: making student’s life easier or harder?

April 16, 2010

By Ieva Cielava

Aproximately 20 percent of all the students, who study at the University of Latvia, are using study credits to pay for their education, according to representative of Credit Granting Commission at the University of Latvia. This same official says that every year 140 – 160 students from the University of Latvia rotate from the pay group to the budget group. Some of the sources also speculate that every year as many as 140 – 160 students may also rotate out of the budget group. Or even more, if the amount of budget places is reduced, as it was for the Faculty of Social Sciences in the Latvia University of Agriculture, which is governed by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The beginning of the academic year for students at Latvia University of Agriculture was confusing. “In October they announced the results of the rotation – many students had lost their budget places; I did as well. So we had to pay for September, because the academic semester was already in the middle of its cycle,” says Ingūna, a student from the faculty of Social sciences.

The day, when rotation results were announced, was the last day when students could apply for study credits. “Only one girl applied for the credit, the rest of us couldn’t figure out in one day what we should do,” Ingūna remembers.

All this mess with study credits came about in July because the new Government of Latvia started to work, changes were needed for the country’s budget and as a result of the changes, faculty of Social Sciences lost many budget places because this faculty is not a priority for the Ministry of Agriculture, which is in charge of the Latvia University of Agriculture, says a representative of the University. Many students including Ingūna moved to part-time studies, which was a way for students to save up to 400 lats a year.

Kristīne Jakubovska, the press secretary of the Swedbank, one of the banks which offer study credits to students says the amount of study credit requests has grown in the last few years. Requests for credits as well as problems with guarantors are now issues of concern

Information in the home page of Swedbank shows that students, who are less than 21-years-old, must have a guarantor who gets 200 lats as a regular income in a month, after paying taxes and long-term credits. “In the current economical circumstances, students have problems with finding the guarantors, who could conform to these demands,” Jakubovska says.

Exceptions are possible for orphans (younger than 24-years-old) and students from poor families; they can try to get a guaranty from the selfgovernment of their place of living, says a representative of the Credit Granting Comission at the University of Latvia.

If a student pays all the credit payments on time and doesn’t have any debts, the student shouldn’t worry even in case of a guarantor suddenly becoming jobless. Jakubovska says the bank understands the economical situation in our country. If a student is loyal to all the demands from bank, the student cannot suddenly lose the credit

Before taking a credit for studies, it is worth considering that there are two types of credits. One bank every year wins the contest from the government and can offer the students a state guaranty for the credit, this year it is SEB bank. It doesn’t mean that students can get along without a guarantor, but the state gives the bank a guarantee, that if the credit taker has some sudden economical problems, the state will pay 90 percent of the amount of the money. That provides a very attractive credit percentage, only percent, explains the Credit Granting Comission.

There are four banks in Latvia offer study credits: Swedbank, SEB bank, Latvijas Krājbanka and Nordea.