When we asked Marit about which places in Riga mean something special to her and which parts of the city she wanted to show us, the answer had to include some sort of physical activity, in one way or another. Marit is a really active girl; as well as being in her second year of medical studies in Riga, she has also started up a football team – Riga United – and is the team’s captain. And as if that were not enough, she has just started CrossFit training as well, but a bit of illness this winter has prevented her being as active on that front as she would have liked.
We met Marit early one afternoon at her apartment in central Riga. She had just finished a full day of lectures and had a couple of hours to show us around before she was taking us to watch football training. First, she gave us a quick tour of the apartment before she went into the bathroom to change into her work-out clothes. We could hear the sound of Norwegian radio channel P3 coming from the bathroom. The apartment was large compared to the apartments that students in Norway usually live in. It was decorated with some large IKEA pictures and Marit also said “We have lots of space for guests when they come over from Norway”. We asked what kind of Norwegian items she had in the apartment. She showed us some food but made sure to tell us that this mostly belonged to her flatmates. “The last time I came back from Norway I didn’t bring anything with me. That was the first time that happened” Marit admitted.
Before football training, Marit wanted to show us her usual running course. It goes from her house, through the Bastejkalns Park and back and forth along the Daugava River. “You asked me to show you parts of Riga that meant something special to me and it had to be this trail. When I come home from a long day of lectures, running this course is the utmost thing to make me relax. The part along the river is something I particularly appreciate. It is often late in the afternoon or early evening when I have time for this and then I frequently get to run with a beautiful sunset in the background as well.” She shows us the background picture on her phone. It is of the river reflecting all the colours of the sunset. “You need to come back when the weather is better”.
The rain started pouring down as we walked from the riverside to the sports ground where football training was to be held. To make people turn up on time, Marit had introduced a penalty workout for the people who came in late. The previous training session had been the first time they had this rule and Marit had got most of the team to participate even though they hadn’t been late. The team was a mix of Norwegians, other foreign students, and Latvians. The coach was English and most of the messages back and forth on the pitch were in English. It rained heavily throughout the whole session. “Your timing was terrible in which session you chose to watch” the coach told us. At the end of training, they divided into two teams and played a short match. Marit made sure to score a pretty amazing goal when both an anthropologist and a photographer were present following her every move.