How did the plan to visit India take shape?

Parul University, one of our long-time partners, met with our First Vice Rector Daria Kozlova at the NAFSA Conference & Expo and invited ITMO to attend an event called International Week. The goal of this event is to bring together Parul University’s global partners to discuss strategies for future collaborations and partnerships. 

We were offered the opportunity to represent ITMO there, which we happily accepted. Our management also supported our decision and helped us in every way possible.

Was this your first time in India?

It was, indeed. We took a flight from St. Petersburg to Ahmedabad in Gujarat, where the representatives of Parul University met us and took us to Vadodara, the university’s home city. 

What was it like there?

Culturally, it is completely different from Russia. We got to experience both the urban and rural sides of life in India. Parul University gave us the opportunity to get to know India completely. We felt like we were living in an Indian movie.

What was your impression of rural India?

There are many people living below the poverty line in India, but we appreciate the fact that universities like Parul are taking the leadership to look after such groups. Parul University has a department that is responsible for these communities and provides them with food and other basic amenities daily. 

What aspect of Indian culture did you like the most?

Indian hospitality won our hearts. The politeness of the people was amazing. The way they took care of us was really great. 

The weather is very different in India. How did it feel?

In Gujarat, it was really hot, even in December. It was 32 degrees Celsius. We barely survived! It was quite unique to feel hot in winter. However, in Kolkata, the weather was quite pleasant – neither too hot nor cold.

Did you take a liking to Indian food?

We really savored the food there. Our favorite dishes were paneer, prawns, tandoori chicken, and chai (tea). The curries are also delicious here, especially chicken butter masala. 

Ekaterina and Yulia with students and teachers from Parul University. Photo courtesy of Ekaterina Rassolenko

Ekaterina and Yulia with students and teachers from Parul University. Photo courtesy of Ekaterina Rassolenko

So, what were the highlights of International Week at Parul University?

We spent extensive five days discussing partnership opportunities for both students and staff. We were in conversation with all the top personalities in the university, such as the President of Parul University, Dr. Devanshu Patel. We were also invited to his house for dinner! 

One of the most important points that both parties put emphasis on was strengthening the good relationship between ITMO and Parul University. Some of the ways in which we plan to do this are by launching several new joint programs, increasing exchange opportunities, and fostering collaborative research.

What can we be excited about in the future?

There are many events and opportunities to be excited about. We are in negotiations to launch a double-degree Master’s program between ITMO and Parul from 2023 onwards. There is also the possibility of seeing many new joint summer and winter schools, as well as more exchange opportunities for both ITMO and Parul University students. This year, we are also planning to provide a greater number of internships and research opportunities for students and researchers.

How can ITMO students study at Parul University on exchange?

Every year, ITMO organizes an academic mobility contest that is open to all Bachelor’s (2nd year onwards) and Master’s students. In 2023, the contest will start on January 23 and end on February 9. Students will need to select three preferred universities and fill out the online application via ISU. The mandatory documents are a video CV and a certificate of English proficiency (B2 and above). Select candidates will be invited to an interview and their performance will be evaluated both by ITMO and the partner university.