Can you tell us something about yourself?

I was born in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, but I have lived in the town of Gevgelija since my childhood. I am a first-year Master’s student of the Technoscience, Innovation, Economy program at ITMO. I completed my Bachelor’s at the Faculty of Economics and Organization of Entrepreneurship in Bitola, Macedonia. After my graduation, I did a one-year Russian language preparatory course at the St. Petersburg State University of Industrial Technologies and Design

What drew you to ITMO?

I wanted to pursue my Master’s degree in a country that is reputed for its education system and Russia is definitely one of them. When I did some research about the universities in Russia, I found out that ITMO is one of the best in the country. Therefore, ITMO was my top priority. I also found a very interesting program at ITMO which combines economics with innovation and science. So, in the end, it was a no-brainer. Additionally, when you get to study in Russian, it's a win-win. 

What subjects do you study as part of this program?

I was a little bit surprised when I saw the curriculum. In my second semester, I have subjects like programming and molecular biology apart from the regular subjects. But I think ITMO wants us to have some knowledge in science and technology which we can apply in innovative projects. After all, ITMO is a “non-classical university.” Graduates of this program are expected to be well-versed in both science and economics. 

How would you describe your hometown, Gevgelija?

My town is a very humble but beautiful place. It has many sunny days throughout the year. People are very cheerful, probably due to the sun. In a nutshell, I would rate Gevgelija pretty close to heaven!

Gevgelija, Macedonia. Photo by Aleksandra Ilieva

Gevgelija, Macedonia. Photo by Aleksandra Ilieva

How do you feel about the cold weather of St. Petersburg?

It is a very strange and new experience for me. Gevgelija never has so much snow. Usually, we get more than 200 days of sun. But in St. Pete, it is dark and very cold. At first, it was really difficult for me to cope with this cold, but I am adapting to it fast.

How do you celebrate Christmas at home?

There is something special about December. It is that time of the year when friends and families come closer to one another and spend some quality time together. I usually celebrate it with my family. We get together, have some nice gossiping sessions. We also relish some special food during this time. It is a great time to sit back, relax, and enjoy some good times with my family. 

How are you going to celebrate it this year?

I am not sure, but I want to go back home during the winter holidays. I miss my family a lot already, so I would like to go back and spend Christmas with them. But if that doesn’t happen, then I will probably celebrate it with my friends here in St. Pete.

What are your hobbies?

In my free time, I practice yoga. I started doing yoga 6 months ago. I also watch numerous videos on YouTube to learn new asanas. It helps me concentrate better.

Apart from that, I also like reading and writing. I have read many poems and novels by famous Russian authors like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. I have also published a book of mine called Oxymoronic People.

Aleksandra’s book Oxymoronic People is a collection of original poems written in Macedonian. Photo courtesy of the subject

Aleksandra’s book Oxymoronic People is a collection of original poems written in Macedonian. Photo courtesy of the subject

Can you tell us something about your book?

Oxymoronic People is a collection of several original poems that emphasizes the concept of harmony in diversity. An oxymoron is a figure of speech that consists of two words that are contradictory to each other. But when used together, they give rise to completely new expressions with their own meaning. For example, cruel kindness.

What was writing this book like for you?

This book was not planned at all. Writing for me is like a way to escape from the world. Whenever I feel low, I start writing. In the same way, I wrote a few poems which at first seemed very disconnected. But later on, when I read them again, I found something abstract and deep in them. I gathered my courage and approached a publisher. Luckily, it appeared in print.

I learned a very important lesson and that was to be courageous. Situations are not always ideal. But one must always have the courage to endure through thick and thin. It just takes that one brave step to get out of any difficult situation that you might be in.

Aleksandra is a Master’s student in the Technoscience, Innovation, Economy (TIE) program at ITMO. Photo courtesy of the subject

Aleksandra is a Master’s student in the Technoscience, Innovation, Economy (TIE) program at ITMO. Photo courtesy of the subject

Are you working on something new?

I am planning a second book, but this time it won’t be poetry. Instead, I will write something about the people of St. Pete. I notice many different types of people in this large city. Everyone has a unique vibe to them. I want to bring that all together in my words. Also, I don’t have any specific plan right now, but I want to keep it very natural and true to my feelings. Let’s see how it turns out.

Where do you live in St. Pete?

I live in the university dorm on Belorusskaya Street 6. I share my room with two Russian girls. I am very glad to have Russian roommates: I get to learn a lot about the Russian lifestyle by observing them. An interesting thing that I have noticed is that Russians have dinner pretty early. I have to say they are very health-conscious. 

What are some of the places that you have been to in St. Pete?

I have been to a few places so far, such as the Hermitage, the Lomonosov Bridge, and St. Isaac's Cathedral. I loved the architecture of these monuments. I also went to an Indian restaurant recently called Ganesha

Aleksandra is thrilled by the beautiful architecture in St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of the subject

Aleksandra is thrilled by the beautiful architecture in St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of the subject

What are your plans for the future?

For now, I would like to complete my studies with good grades. I will definitely continue writing. I don’t dream of becoming a popular author, but I want to continue it as a hobby. It makes me feel complete!

What would you like to tell the young students in Macedonia?

My advice would be to never lose hope and be courageous. Sometimes, you might not find the right support. You need to back yourself up in such times. The struggle is real, but perseverance is the key to success. I want everyone to see the potential of young people in Macedonia and invest in them. 

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