Welcome to life in Latvia

My stunning view

I had a vision of what my life would be like as a TEFL teacher. Stretched out on my sun-soaked balcony, gazing out over waves lapping on pure white sand, turning over sporadically to make sure I baked evenly all over, while at the same time working on my memoirs. Oh, and some teaching of course. The lyrics of ‘If I can help somebody as I pass along…’ would play on loop in my head as I passed out my pearls of wisdom to my adoring students.

Fast forward three years. I’m sitting in my flat in Riga, Latvia. I’m wearing two t-shirts, a jumper, tights, jeans, two pairs of socks, slippers, a dressing gown and a scarf. And out my window, barely visible through the blizzard, I can see…a wall. I get up every morning at 6am and don’t get home until almost 8pm. Teaching is broken up by bouts of walking around in the bone-chilling, skin-cracking winter temperatures. And I have just under 4 lats in my wallet to show for it.

After three years living here, naturally I’ve settled in and am starting to feel almost like a local. But of course, as an Irish girl, there are things that will always differentiate me from the natives. Like the fact that I smile sometimes. And I say thank you to the bus driver. And I start to walk like an arthritic 90-year old as soon as three flakes of snow hit the pavement. In Ireland, we’d have a snow day and a state of emergency would be declared. Here, life goes on as normal. The schools don’t close until it hits -30…

So, it’s been a bit of an adjustment. But I’m sure the 40,000 Latvians currently residing in Ireland are having similar problems to this one Irish girl attempting to shift the balance by moving in the opposite direction. So, instead of my memoirs, I’ve decided to start writing this blog, partly to share my experiences, partly to reassure myself that my frost-bitten fingers still work.

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Expat, Humor, Humour, Latvia, TEFL and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Welcome to life in Latvia

  1. Harrison says:

    Ummm…the last comment is dated March 2013. Is it too late to join the party?

  2. Pecora Nera says:

    Great blog, thanks for making me laugh… Especially on a snowy Sunday

    • Expat Eye says:

      Does it make me a bad person if I’m happy you’re cold as well? πŸ™‚

      • Pecora Nera says:

        It is flipping freezing.. Italian houses are built for the summer not the winter.

        3 months ago I had a wood burning fire installed in the lounge to try and reduce the outrageous gas bill. I spend more time fetching wood from outside and throwing it into the fire than Casey Jones did on his steam locomotive. (you will need to be as old as me to know who Casey Jones was….

        You a bad person??? I will let you know when I have finished reading your blog. Ciao from sunny Italy. πŸ™‚

      • Expat Eye says:

        Thanks for making me feel young! I feel your pain. In Latvia, the heating comes on on a certain date (after it’s been 8 degrees for 3 days) and doesn’t go off until it’s 8 degrees for 3 days again. So you have to pay for it whether you want it or not. You can’t turn it off, up, down… my heating bills are killing me this winter! Would love an open fire! Jealous! πŸ™‚

      • Pecora Nera says:


        We had a gas bill for 968.00 Euros for 2 months. I nearly died. Hence we have installed a wood burning fire.

        I guess your winters are colder than ours, although last year it reached minus 22Β°C.

        I can’t send you a wood burning stove but I could send you either a bit of wood or a bottle of grappa. I would choose the gappa πŸ™‚

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’ll drink to that!

  3. Charlie says:

    I’m enjoying your posts– I absolutely love Latvia and have some distant relatives there, I can see how it might appear from your perspective, which, of course is the mark of great writing. I have to ask–is there much demand for English teachers? I’d be interested myself!

    • Expat Eye says:

      There seems to be quite a lot of demand. Most people here are very keen to learn English. I came back in September (having left my previous school in June) and within a week had jobs at 3 different schools.

      One of the schools does a lot of evening classes and the place is busier than Central Station every day with students coming and going! And there are plenty more schools that I didn’t even approach! I can give you some names if you’re interested!

      And I’m really happy you’re enjoying the posts! I probably sound like a total brat sometimes but it’s all meant in good fun really! πŸ™‚

  4. Zyriacus says:

    Mouth meets ears reading your blog. Please keep on!

  5. Ray says:

    I love it Linda, excellent read, brought a huge smile to face, Keep watching for those crazy icy tentacles and falling ice bergs as it’s getting to that season around now. The other thing is walking, a penguin is not wrong. :p

  6. scienceandthecity says:

    Hope the fingers continue to function through the frostbite so we can have more of your blog! So c’mere are you getting the ‘dry’ cold there as opposed to our ‘wet’ cold?

    • expateye says:

      Mostly dry cold yes! It’s pretty nice at the moment actually – clear and sunny (and icy obviously!). Or it was. It’s snowing again. Sigh. πŸ™‚

  7. Pamela says:

    I look forward to the next installment!

  8. Pamela says:

    Smiling…saying thank you… something not quite adding up here… maybe I am reading someone else’s blog πŸ˜‰ loving your work Linda keep it up πŸ™‚

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