How did you become a student at ITMO University?

While I was studying at my university in Nigeria, I discovered that Russia was providing opportunities for prospective students to win a scholarship to study for a Bachelor's degree at a Russian university. So I applied online on the Russia.Study website, then took an exam and did an interview, and was lucky enough to get the scholarship. I decided to leave my studies in Nigeria to pursue further studies at ITMO. While ITMO was not my first choice, I am very happy to be able to study at this university.

Are you studying in Russian or English and why? 

I am studying in Russian, since my degree is only available in this language. So part of the scholarship is to learn Russian through the year-long Foundation Program before you can start working on your degree. 

Did you know Russian before coming here?

I didn't know a single word of Russian when I arrived here about a year and a half ago. That is why the first months were very hard for me, but over time my level of Russian has improved.

Elisha Enefu. Photo courtesy of subject
Elisha Enefu. Photo courtesy of subject

What was your first contact with the University like? 

My first contact with the university was a month before arriving in St. Petersburg. The university helped me with some paperwork when I arrived in the city, however, the government in my country helped me with most of the necessary documentation. 

What were your first impressions of Russia? 

I felt very strange from the moment I landed. For me everything was different. It was very cold, the language was strange. During my first few weeks I stayed in a hostel which was quite good. Although the first days were difficult, they were pleasant at the same time. It took me some time to get used to the food.

What do people in your country think about Russia?

Unfortunately, in my country, Russia is not displayed in a positive way in the media. Some people even believe that Russian people can be racist. So when I came to Russia, the prejudices that I had previously began to fall away and my opinion of Russian people has changed a lot as I got to know them and their culture.

Elisha Enefu. Photo courtesy of subject
Elisha Enefu. Photo courtesy of subject

What do you like about St. Petersburg? 

This city has truly impressed me with its beauty, its landscapes and its architecture. I also like its people.  So far I have felt very well treated by all the people that I have been able to meet here and I have been able to build new friendships. I also really like the easy and global access to the Internet that everyone has here.

What are your plans for the future?

I hope that while I’m at the University I can develop not only my professional skills but also learn about different aspects of life. I hope to increase my abilities and that all this time invested will be worth it in the future. Speaking more technically, I would like to learn more about 3D animation. It is the subject that interests me a lot and that I hope to be able to handle and practice in the future.

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

I would recommend it, but, if you want to come to Russia and pursue your goals here, you have to have determination and work hard until the end if you want to see results because it will not be easy.

Interview by Juan Sebastian Velasquez Acevedo