Hi, how are you doing?

I am doing well. First of all, I want to thank you for this opportunity. I feel very lucky!

We are glad to talk to you as well. Please tell us something about yourself.

My name is Bui Huong Giang. I come from Hoa Binh in Vietnam. Currently, I am a final-year Bachelor's student at ITMO. I would describe myself as a smiling girl who is quite friendly and always gets along well with everyone.

How long have you been in Russia?

I have been in Russia for four and a half years, almost five years now.

What are you studying at ITMO?

I am studying biotechnology. I specifically focus on the production of bread, beer, and wine.

Why did you decide to study in Russia?

Russia is well-known for good quality training in information technology, life sciences, and similar disciplines. Moreover, ITMO is one of the best universities in the world to study and get trained in these fields. These two factors influenced my decision to a large extent. Additionally, studying in Russia provided me with a good opportunity to explore a new country with an interesting culture and amazing people.

What do you like the most about St. Petersburg?

I really like the climate in St. Petersburg. It is so fresh! I also like Russian food, museums, and landmarks such as the Winter Palace.

How does it feel to be an international student at ITMO?

Like every other international student, I feel very lucky to be a part of this amazing community here at ITMO. We, as international students, get to meet so many new people from different parts of the world. This experience has really changed the way I look at life. I feel proud to be a part of ITMO.Family.

How good is your Russian by now? 

I've been here for almost five years but I think my level of Russian is only B2. However, I am always trying to learn more. I'm a pretty open-minded girl who loves to socialize. As a result, I have many Russian friends who help me learn the language better. Most of them understand what I'm saying and I can easily indulge in a conversation with them.

“I am really passionate about bread technology, which covers the different types of bread and how to make them perfectly,” says Bui. Photo courtesy of the subject

“I am really passionate about bread technology, which covers the different types of bread and how to make them perfectly,” says Bui. Photo courtesy of the subject

Do you have any tips on how to learn it quickly?

I don't think I have much experience, but I do have something to share with foreign friends: be confident in yourself. Only if you are confident, open, and ready to communicate with Russian students and teachers every day can you improve your Russian proficiency. As they say in Russian, “Уверенность — первое условие для совершения великих дел,” – meaning “Confidence is the first prerequisite for great things”.

Where are you staying these days? 

I'm staying in a dormitory located on Vyazemsky Lane. My dorm is full of international students. This is a great thing because it makes it easy for everyone to meet new people, exchange thoughts, and bond with one another. ITMO is indeed a great family!

Do you like Russian food? What are your favorite dishes?

I quite like Russian cuisine, especially пельмени (pelmeni), блинчики (blinchiki), чак-чак (chak-chak), dressed herring and Olivier salads, and borscht. I also love shawarma! I found chak-chak to be a very interesting dish. A Russian friend once recommended it to me. It was quite sweet and soft. I am also a big fan of Russian pastries, especially пышки (pyshki).

Do you have a favorite place to eat in St. Petersburg?

I usually go to Vietnamese, Korean, or Thai restaurants. I would recommend the following: Pho’n’Roll, Koreana Light, Tokyo City, Omane, Thai Way Cafe, and Umami. I especially recommend the milk tea at Umami, it is really very good.

What do you like the most about Russian culture?

Russian culture is quite diverse and unique. People here are quite open and comfortable. I am quite impressed with the fact that there are many holidays in Russia to observe different occasions. January 25 is celebrated as Student’s Day. How cool is that!

What are your favorite places in St. Petersburg? 

I have been to many places but the ones that I love the most are Kazan Cathedral, the Winter Palace, the Summer Palace of Peter the Great, and the Peterhof Palace. I also really like the bookstore Dom Knigi and museums such as the Toy Museum. There are also many great monuments in and around St. Petersburg like the Cranes memorial, the Bronze Horseman, the Makarov Monument in Kronstadt, and the Narva Triumphal Arch. The Mini-City is also a popular tourist destination.

Bui with her friends at a fashion show in St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of the subject

Bui with her friends at a fashion show in St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of the subject

Can you share one good and one bad experience in Russia?

There are many good experiences and all of them are around my friends, who always have my back and help me in work and study. They teach me a lot about Russian culture and history as well. I remember one day I was worried about a dress that I needed to design with only three days left until the fashion show. Olia, my Russian friend, helped me a lot with the assignment and we were able to complete the dress in just two days! It was an extremely memorable experience.

About bad experiences, it is just that on some days I feel quite tired because of the pressure of studies and work. There are times when I can't decide how to balance all my commitments. It does take a toll on my health and my learning.

How did you adjust to the cold weather here?

The weather here is extremely cold! So, I think everyone has to keep themselves warm by wearing 2-3 shirts, along with thermal gloves, woolen hats, and winter shoes.

What are your hobbies?

I love content creation. Currently, I am studying fashion design, learning to film TikTok videos and modeling. I also like raising cats, listening to music, watching movies, and developing myself.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I might return to Vietnam to work. I might even decide to study at ITMO for two more years to pursue a Master's degree. I would love to follow my dreams and develop myself further.

Any advice for future ITMO students from your country?

Friends, if you ever set foot in Russia, remember, it is a majestic and beautiful country. I hope you will be able to grow your confidence here and follow your goals and dreams. Be open to communicating with people and learning new skills. Don't be shy!