Student Spotlight: Jorge Eduardo Mayor Fernández, Colombia

Jorge Eduardo Mayor Fernández is a first-year Bachelor’s student of software engineering at ITMO University. I chatted with him about his life at university and his experiences in Russia so far.

Why did you decide to study in Russia?

At first, Russia wasn’t even an option in the list of places where I wanted to study, but as soon as a couple of friends came here, I started to read about this country. I realized that it would be interesting to study here. Also, Russia wasn’t as expensive as the other countries that I was considering and has a high level of education.

Why did you choose ITMO?

I knew about ITMO before reading more about Russia, as I saw that it had very good results in international programming contests. That was the main reason why I chose ITMO; I realized that it must have very good programmers.

How are you liking St. Petersburg and ITMO so far?

Getting to know the city has been really interesting, because the architecture and public spaces are beautiful and very different from what I was used to in Colombia.

The facilities of the university have been really useful, since there are places to comfortably work, study, and eat on any of the campuses. I find that the level of education is also very good compared to other universities that I know from Colombia, so ITMO has met my expectations.

What are your hobbies?

I like going to the theater and playing video games. I’m also interested in music and I would like to join a music academy in the near future. Solving programming problems every now and then is also a good way for me to kill time.

Was it hard to get used to living in Russia?

I have been living here for four months and it wasn’t difficult to get used to it. There were some cultural shocks, like the differences in food (that was the biggest change) and how people speak to you, but a lot of people here are ready to help, which makes it easier. However, I've seen that Russians are generally not as warm as the people in Colombia. They are not very open to speaking with strangers and if they do, they only say what is necessary. I am used to strangers being more friendly in my country.

What would you recommend doing before moving to Russia as an international student?

I would recommend everyone to eat a lot of their usual, national food, since that’s what I’ve missed the most. There are also good things to try here, but after a while you start to miss what you ate in your own country. In my case, there aren’t any plátanos (plantains), lulos (a tropical fruit), or maracuyás (passion fruit) here and I miss them a lot. I used to eat plantains for every lunch back in Colombia.

Do you have any other advice for other international students coming to Russia?

I would tell them that there is nothing to fear. Russia might be a place far from home, and while you won’t know anyone or anything at first, it’s a great opportunity to start from scratch and learn about a new culture. There will always be helpful, kind people who are interested in learning about your culture. There will be a lot of new and interesting things that you can do here, but don’t forget your main objective — to study.

Bachelor's student