Why did you decide to get a  Master's degree in Information Security?

During my work on related topics, I noticed that information security was an important field and as I had already wanted to study for a Master's degree a few years ago, I decided on this career.

How did you become a student at ITMO University? 

I analyzed which path to take after studying for my Bachelor's degree and started looking for the best universities in the world in information security. There were two countries with the best education according to the rankings: South Korea and Russia. ITMO, the best university in information security, is in Russia, so I immediately decided to study there. I applied and luckily I got a place.

What was your educational path before joining ITMO?

In my country, professionals are divided into engineering and general undergraduate studies. I graduated in Computer and Systems Engineering from the ESPE Armed Forces University.

Was it difficult to obtain all the documents necessary to come here?

The application process took place over the phone, communication was all in English so mutual understanding was easy. I gathered all the documents and then the university sent me the invitation letter.

What were your first impressions of Russia? 

I have a couple of friends who live here. One of them met me at the airport, helped me exchange money, and took me to the university dormitory. I was lucky to receive help from him and also from my cousin who had a lot of useful tips on how to live in Russia.

Although they told me about the weather, it was a surprise to me how cold it could be, but I really enjoy the phenomenon of snow, so I can say that I have adapted well. Then I began to experience day-to-day life in Russia, discovering surprises about the culture and the way the locals are, it was a very pleasant experience for me. I am delighted to be in Russia.

Pablo Jami Tapia. Photo courtesy of the subject
Pablo Jami Tapia. Photo courtesy of the subject

What do you like most about St. Petersburg?

It fascinates me that it is a city with a lot of culture, the people here,  though cold, are always ready to help you. Also, the architecture is beautiful.

How is life as an international student? 

It's interesting, you learn a lot from different cultures. My native language is Spanish and Russians like it very much. My foreign friends at university constantly teach me words in their native languages, so the cultural exchange is fascinating. You can share various things with the people around you which allows you to look at the world more broadly.

Likewise, the teachers always help you, they make sure that you reach the level of understanding and mastery of the subjects that is required of you.

Where are you now? And why are you there?

Now I am in my home country, Ecuador. I came on a flight that I had previously booked; I’ve had it since June of last year and I was only able to travel in December because my flight was constantly being canceled due to the pandemic.

My return was scheduled for February, but I am still in my country for the same reason. I hope to be in Russia again in June.

How is the process of studying online?

I have studied part of the third semester and written my thesis from here remotely. In my opinion, the amount of homework has increased, the academic level has not decreased at all, the professors and the university since the beginning of the pandemic have handled the situation well, the university consumes 100% of your time and they have taken it upon themselves to keep me productive.

Pablo Jami Tapia. Photo courtesy of the subject
Pablo Jami Tapia. Photo courtesy of the subject

What are your hobbies?

I recently finished the work on my thesis, which will give me more free time for other things. During my studies,  I was doing some part-time work  here in my country.

I love playing football, it is my biggest hobby, and I will surely play more now that I have fewer responsibilities.

What are your plans for the future?

I finished my final study project, I hope in a month to defend my thesis and obtain my Master's degree. After defending my thesis, I would think that I have finished my process within the university, so I plan to start working and apply my acquired knowledge.

Any advice for other international students who want to come to Russia and do a Master's degree here?

If you want to come to study at ITMO University, I would recommend it 100%, it is a very good university; the best university in information security and computer science in all of Russia.

I encourage you to apply, the reputation of ITMO students globally is very good and can help you land a good job.

Interview by Juan Sebastian Velasquez Acevedo