How did you become a student at ITMO University?

All Vietnamese students who are studying in Russia have a group chat on Facebook. When I asked which university offers the best computer science education, they highly recommended ITMO.

A story that my parents used to tell me when I was a child, which left a great impression on me, also influenced my decision. It was about the Vietnam War and the good relationship between Vietnam and Russia.

For these reasons, I applied for a scholarship, and luckily I won the opportunity to study in Russia. I was very excited to learn more about this beautiful country.

How did you get the scholarship?

I got very good grades at my high school in Vietnam. So I was invited to apply for a Russian study-abroad scholarship from the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training.

What were your first impressions of Russia?

The first thing I felt when leaving the airport was the cold. I had never felt so cold in my life. My first impression – and not much has changed – was that people are so friendly and helpful that it makes me feel warm even on winter days. Now that I have gotten a little used to the weather conditions, I love the weather here: mild spring, great summer, romantic autumn and dreamy winter.

Nguyen Thi My Tu. Photo courtesy of author.
Nguyen Thi My Tu. Photo courtesy of author.

How did you learn Russian? What tips would you share on improving one’s language level?

I did not know Russian before I came here. I learned it in the Foundation Program. My advice is to watch a lot of Russian TikTok – it's very exciting to learn in that way. Although Russian is difficult to learn, it is a beautiful language. I always try to improve it.

What do you like about St. Petersburg? 

I love this city for the weather, the food, the people, and the beautiful landscapes and museums.

How was this first semester for you at the University?

It was very difficult because I am still not good enough at the Russian language to understand the lessons. But I have overcome it by improving day by day.

How is your relationship with other international students?

We understood each other's difficulties, so we enthusiastically helped each other and because of that, we became very close.

Nguyen Thi My Tu. Photo courtesy of author.
Nguyen Thi My Tu. Photo courtesy of author.

What do people in your country think about Russia? Is your vision of it now different from what you expected?

People always think that Russians are cold. I used to think the same way, but now it's different. I got a lot of help from teachers, friends, and even strangers. That has made me love this place much more than before.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are playing video games, singing, listening to music, and hanging out with friends. At university, I usually do my homework and I love reading books.

What are your expectations at the University and your plans for the future?

I hope to learn Russian better, become more confident, and talk more openly with Russian friends. I have the goal of graduating with a “red” diploma (with “excellent” grades in all subjects; an honors diploma – Ed.). It may be a bit presumptuous, but I will do my best to achieve it.

Any advice for other international students who want to come to Russia? Would you recommend it?

The only advice I can give is that you have to be diligent and open. For me, it is one of the keys to success.

Interview by Juan Sebastian Velasquez Acevedo