What are you studying at ITMO?

I am currently enrolled in ITMO’s Russian-language Foundation Program. After its completion, I will do my Master’s degree in robotics and artificial intelligence.

What did you study during your Bachelor's?

I studied mechatronics engineering at the World University of Bangladesh, located in Dhaka, the capital city.

Why did you want to study in Russia?

I was looking for opportunities abroad when I came across ITMO. I did some research and found out that education in Russia is affordable and of good quality. Upon exploring the programs offered by ITMO, I got to know about ITMO’s International Laboratory of Biomechatronics and Energy-Efficient Robotics. I was really impressed by the perfect blend of practical and theoretical education provided there.

How did you do your research about ITMO?

I referred to three sources of information, namely former students, ITMO’s YouTube channel, and its online platforms, including ITMO.NEWS. I read numerous stories and articles before coming to get myself well-versed with the university. ITMO’s Facebook and Instagram pages publish informative and interesting content every day. They helped me get connected with ITMO better. I would like to thank ITMO’s team for doing such an amazing job.

Shafayet’s passion is to be a robotics engineer and an expert in AI. Photo courtesy of subject

Shafayet’s passion is to be a robotics engineer and an expert in AI. Photo courtesy of subject

What information do you find most useful on ITMO’s social media?

Posts about the application process, the university structure, the curriculum, and Russian culture are most interesting for me. Informational posts regarding documents for international students such as “How to extend your visa” or “How to get your documents translated” were very useful.

How difficult was the admission process for you?

There were a few challenges due to the pandemic. Many offices were working remotely which led to a few hassles. ITMO’s international office helped me a lot. They were very patient at every step. I got my visa on time and was able to fly to St. Petersburg before the semester started.

Can you describe the structure of ITMO’s Foundation Program?

Students enrolled in the Foundation Program have to pass three exams, namely for proficiency levels A1, A2, and B1. The course is divided into three modules, each consisting of a period of study (ideally 2 months) followed by an exam. I passed the A1 exam in the month of December last year. I need to pass two more exams by the end of June. Only then will I be eligible to start my Master’s program in September.

Why do you want to study robotics?

Everyone has their own passion. Developing robots is mine. Having studied engineering during my Bachelor’s, I decided to improve my skills in robotics. It is a very multidisciplinary field of science that requires electronics, mechanics, and computer programming skills. Such a program aligns very well with my ambitions and goals in life. I also believe that a Master’s degree in robotics will give me an upper hand in the job market.

Traveling to St. Petersburg was Shafayet’s first foreign trip. Photo courtesy of subject

Traveling to St. Petersburg was Shafayet’s first foreign trip. Photo courtesy of subject

How did your family react to you coming to Russia?

It was a mixed bag of emotions for all of us. Everyone was very happy because I am going abroad for higher education. At the same time, they were a little worried and sad as it was my first international trip. However, they felt better once I assured them of my safety and well-being.

How do you feel in St. Petersburg?

At first, I was somewhat nervous, because I did not understand the language at all. After spending a few months here, I have now started to develop a liking for the city and its people. I have also started learning Russian at the Foundation Program. It has helped me settle down better.

What was your experience with winter like?

It has been unique. People who live in a hot country like Bangladesh are bound to have a tough time adjusting to this new climate. The lowest temperature this winter was around -23 degrees Celsius! I am still learning to deal with it. Hot tea and chicken soup are doing wonders in terms of keeping me warm.

The winter has been challenging but fun for Shafayet. Photo courtesy of subject

The winter has been challenging but fun for Shafayet. Photo courtesy of subject

What is your opinion on Russian food?

Undoubtedly it is different from Bangladeshi food, but I am digging it. Modern Russian cuisine is influenced by many cultures and I find it really special. My favorites so far are shawerma and soups such as borscht, shchi, and solyanka.

What are your plans for the future?

If everything plays out as planned, I would love to pursue a PhD in artificial intelligence. ITMO will again be my preferred university. 

What have been your major takeaways as an international student in Russia so far?

The experience of studying in Russia as an international student has been one of a kind. There is so much to learn. The world is so diverse! However, there is a lot of misinformation out there, too. Therefore one should always verify the veracity of anything and everything. The best way to get genuine information about a university is to get in touch directly with the admission office. Avoid agents!