Meet Luke – The new intern in Riga
Привет всем! I’m Luke Dale, the new intern with Liden & Denz in the enchanting city of Riga, Latvia. Let me introduce myself—and recount some of the excitement that this place has in store.
My home is a suburban town in Hertfordshire—unassuming and peaceful, but on the edge of London and locked into the commuter belt of the capital. By contrast, I study in Oxford—a beautifully-conserved centre of education and research, where the busy rush of the high street can be escaped in seconds into the startling tranquillity of a medieval quadrangle.
Riga is a bit like a mix of both places. I’m staying in Maskavas forštate (literally, ‘Moscow suburb’—named for the road to Moscow), a neighbourhood south of the old city that is much quieter than most districts. There are cobbled streets, traditional wooden buildings and colourful Soviet-era trams. The area feels undisturbed by the last fifty years of history—but for the Latvian flags that hang from most buildings.
The city centre, just fifteen minutes away by tram or trolleybus, couldn’t be more different. Through the winding alleys of the old town, and the wide boulevards of the districts that surround it, courses traffic and people en masse. This is, after all, the biggest city in the Baltic States, and home to a third of the whole population of Latvia. It has all the accessories of a metropole—the numerous cathedrals, the national opera and theatre, the national library and university.
I’m not used to urban environments like this. In my free time, I enjoy running in the countryside or reading in a peaceful outdoor spot. My family is Scottish, and we often travel there to hike, most recently to the scraggy and untamed Isle of Skye. Still—there’s no denying the thrill of all this activity, and Riga’s many picturesque parks are oases of calm within the frenzied buzz of city life.
I’m in Riga to study the Russian language. While at university my degree is in History and German, I have been drawn to Russian through both these subjects. The history of Riga is tied up in the histories of many European countries, either by willing affiliation, or by domination. It has been part of the Hanseatic League, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish Empire, the Russian Empire, the German Empire, Nazi Germany and the USSR. It has also been part of an independent Latvian state twice: first in the early 20th century, and once again today.
As I explore Riga in the next month, I want to share the magic of this city—a city of many faces and many tongues. And—as a student of Russian—I will hopefully be able to provide some interesting Russian-culture content too along the way! Make sure you follow along on the Liden & Denz blog for updates from me and other interns.
For now “Всем пока!”—and happy Russian learning.
Luke is a history and languages student interning at Liden & Denz, Riga.