But in Germany, it would have meant studying biology for three years before being able to specialise.
So, Riike, decided to explore other options abroad.
Despite not knowing much about Wales or Bangor University, she decided to apply for a BSc in marine vertebrate zoology – giving up the chance of free education in her home country.
In September 2018, her dad packed the car and the pair spent three days travelling across Europe before reaching Bangor, a place that Riike has now called home for almost four years.
Having failed English at school, Riike could only speak the basics before moving to Wales. However, studying abroad has meant that she has been able to progress and learn the language quickly.
Getting used to the mountains and hills of North Wales was a shock to Riike at first, as was the education system.
In Germany, Riike explained how students spend a long time at university. But at Bangor University, Riike has found higher education to be more structured, with increased support from lecturers.
And although Riike began her undergraduate degree at the same time as friends in Germany, she is about to finish a Master’s in marine and environmental protection, focusing on her passion: sharks, whereas friends in Germany are yet to finish their undergraduate degree.
From surfing and barbecuing on the beach to rock climbing and hiking in the nearby national parks, there is still much for Riike to discover.
And with societies, a volunteering role on the student council and the ability to compete in major swimming competitions as club captain, Riike believes there are endless opportunities available for international students here in Wales.