Hi, thanks for joining me today. Where are you from?
I am an Indian from a small town called Ranchi in the mineral-rich state of Jharkhand.
How long have you been in Russia?
I arrived in Russia not very long ago. In fact, it was September 30, 2022 when I landed in St. Petersburg.
What are you studying here at ITMO?
Currently, I am enrolled in the Foundation Program where I will be learning the Russian language and culture. In Russian, it is called the Подготовительный факультет or подфак for short. Next year, I shall be starting my Master’s program in business informatics.
What did you study for your Bachelor’s?
I completed my Bachelor’s way back in 2018. I studied engineering in computer science. Until 12th grade, I stayed with my parents in Ranchi. After, I moved to a different city called Nagpur, where I did my Bachelor’s. I have been working full-time until now when I decided to go back to education once again.
What’s the name of your alma mater?
I am a proud alumna of Priyadarshini College of Engineering in Nagpur.
And what did you do for work?
Sounds interesting! What did you do there?
To be honest, during my college years, I realized that I am more interested in business management and human relations than technology. My first job at Collabera was in the domain of business and people management. However, my second job was more research-based – there, I was responsible for analyzing data and managing the team.
Did these experiences influence your transition from tech to business?
Yeah, absolutely! I have always been more into observing things and learning more. Coding could never be my thing since I hate sitting in one place. I want to explore the world. My work experience influenced me to return to academia after four long years and get a degree in a field that combines information technology and business management.
Why did you decide to study business informatics instead of a traditional MBA?
I don’t know if this is a strength or a weakness of mine but I always love to do things differently. An MBA would have been an easy choice, but I wanted to take the path less walked by. Also, I was very excited by the idea of combining IT with business.
How did you discover this program at ITMO?
Studying abroad was always in the cards for me because I love traveling. But financial constraints were a major barrier. Therefore, getting a scholarship was my priority. I then came across the Russian Government scholarship that waives the entire tuition fee for international students. It was a win-win situation for me.
Once I secured the scholarship, I started looking for a suitable program. I had some acquaintances here in Russia, who I consulted with as well. I was quick to understand that ITMO is a reputable university here with top-notch faculty and infrastructure. Also, the fact that it is located in the majestic city of St. Petersburg further cemented my choice.
What was your first impression of St. Petersburg?
Of course, it is even more beautiful than I had seen in photos. The buildings, the architecture, the vibe, it feels like a fable. The city is so clean, as well. The people are very kind and friendly. Although the language is a challenge for us foreigners, the locals take the pain to use a translator to keep the conversation going. Everyone has been super helpful to me so far.
Do you have any first-day-in-Russia stories to share with us?
Oh yes, I do! So, I was in Terminal D of Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. It was early morning and I had just landed after a five-and-a-half-hour flight from Delhi, India. I had to transfer to Terminal B to catch my next flight to St. Petersburg, which was about to depart in one and a half hours. It took me forever to clear immigration and as a result, I missed my flight.
Luckily, the airline staff were very kind to me. They transferred my reservation to a different flight without any extra charge. That was awesome. Again, the language barrier played a major role in the conversation. However, the lady was kind and patient enough with me. So, I finally reached St. Petersburg, a few hours late but with no less enthusiasm.
It is festival time in India and you must be missing your family. How are you coping with it?
It is not my first time away from home during Diwali; however, it is definitely my first time in a foreign country. I am missing the festive vibe a lot. However, I am looking forward to celebrating it here in Russia with my friends. Interestingly, my ITMO Buddy is a fan of Indian culture. So, she is gonna join me for the celebrations. I am looking forward to a Russian-style Diwali this time.
Did you experience any culture shock here?
Not really. In this day and age, all the information is at your fingertips. I did my homework by learning about Russian culture and its people. So, when I arrived in Russia, there was barely anything shocking.
Did the food here surprise you?
I am a pure vegan. Finding purely vegan food has been slightly challenging for me. So, I prefer cooking my own meals. I have brought a bag full of Indian spices and ingredients with me. Other items are available in the markets here. I was very happy to find basmati rice in stores here!
Have you been able to adapt to the cold weather yet?
It is so cold here! I have never been in such a cold place. The lowest temperature that I have experienced is 1 degree Celsius. I will be buying sweaters and jackets for the winter. Even in October, it is so cold in the morning. Honestly, I don’t feel like getting up early to attend classes.
Just to give you an idea, the lowest temperature in St. Petersburg last year was -23 degrees! Brace yourself… Winter is coming!
OMG! Thanks for letting me know. I will be prepared!
What are you looking forward to the most this year?
I am excited about the snow. Again, I have never ever experienced snowfall before. This will be my first – and what better place to do it than Russia? I am also looking forward to Christmas and New Year. I have heard that the streets are decorated magnificently with lights. Really excited about it!