We Get a Lot of Happiness from the Buddy System

What do you think makes life at ITMO University so exciting? Yes, it's the Buddy System, a wonderful club that fully supports our exchange student life, devises various activities, organizes weekly national nights, and keeps us entertained. This club also provided a lot of support when I visited ITMO University in 2019 for just one week. They guided me from the airport to the hotel, talked about their culture in English, and took me and other students to famous sights in St. Petersburg, such as Japanese restaurants, aquariums, and bookstores.

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From that time on, I’ve really loved the Buddy System. Then, in 2021, I came to St. Petersburg again for the first time in two years. When I arrived at the airport, my buddy was waiting for me at the gate. And there was also Alexei, who had shown us around the city in 2019. They were waiting for me with a flag that said "Welcome to Russia" in Russian and Japanese. I remember I was so moved that I was lost for words! My buddy helped me buy a SIM card because I couldn't speak Russian well, and also bought me a cappuccino at Starbucks because it was cold, and called me a cab to my dorm. Thanks to all the support, I was able to arrive at the dormitory with peace of mind.

Other than that, the buddies accompanied me to my medical checkup to use the gym. My buddy Vitalina lent me her coat for six months because I forgot to bring a winter coat from Japan. Also, we went to the Andy Warhol exhibition. One of my buddies, Sava, let us use his kitchen for our Japan National Night and we cooked together. Thanks to all the support, our Japan Night was a huge success.

Photo courtesy of author
Photo courtesy of author

In addition to that, they booked us at the Mazapark entertainment center from 0:00 to 6:00 so that we could play various sports. Those at the Buddy System are always looking for ways to entertain us and help us have fun and make good memories. They usually don't join our activities, but they take a lot of pictures and videos to give us something to remember our days by. I really feel a lot of warm hospitality from them.

Besides, when I said I wanted to get my hair cut, one of my buddies, Max, showed me where he usually cuts his hair and he translated for me at the place so that I could get my ideal haircut. And after that, we explored the city. He showed me around the many buildings that lined the streets, and I really felt like I learned more about Russia.

He also took me to his favorite restaurant, Shabelma. I am known as a specialist in shawarma of St. Petersburg because I visited a lot of shawarma restaurants, and the one I ate there was the best I'd ever tasted.

I got to hang out some more with Alexei, my buddy from 2019. We had a hamburger together, and I promised him that since we had taken pictures in 2019 and 2021, we would take a picture with a cherry blossom tree in Japan in 2023.

Photo courtesy of author
Photo courtesy of author

And the other day the Buddy System organized a trip to ITMO’s Yagodnoe camp. Anya, the head of the club, and her executives did a great job coordinating the trip, booking buses, getting supplies, devising activities, reserving accommodation, and all sorts of other things to keep us entertained. They took a lot of videos and pictures while we were on our quest. At the party that evening, Anya thought about the songs that would make us happy and played them.

Also, at Yagodnoe, I met Ivan, one of my buddies from 2019, for the first time in 2.5 years! It had been a really long time, but we both remembered each other from 2019 and really missed each other.

Thanks to the Buddy System, we can make great memories in Russia. I am really proud of this student club. Thank you all very much.

2021 Exchange Student