Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I love challenges in life and I believe that such challenges are like the waves of the sea – the bigger they are, the more beautiful they will be, and whoever makes it out of these waves will become self-sufficient. I always try to make promises to myself that I can keep. So, if I am here now, it means that I have fulfilled one of my small promises.

That’s quite a philosophical intro. Which country are you from?

I am from Iran, formerly known as Persia, the land of four seasons. It is located near the southwest region of Asia and the Middle East. The official language of Iran is Farsi, but Iranian people also speak other languages such as Kurdish, Turkish, and Arabic.

Iran is one of the oldest nations in the world, with a history dating back many thousands of years. The country's first great city, Susa, was built on the Iranian plateau around 3,200 B.C.

Could you share an interesting fact about Iran?

Not long ago, Iran was home to numerous wild animals like lions, tigers, and other felines. Unfortunately, these expert hunters are very rare now, and some of them have already become extinct. Only a handful of Asiatic cheetahs and Persian leopards still remain in the jungles of Iran.

What impresses you the most about your native country?

Iran has a long list of scholars who created a rich culture that excelled in art, literature, poetry, music, cuisine, and architecture. Ancient Iranian thinkers wrote several influential texts on philosophy and medicine. It was an Iranian mathematician who invented algebra. The universities in Iran are among the most respected ones in the Middle East.  

What are some of the best places to visit in your country?

As a matter of fact, Iran is full of beautiful tourist attractions. From lakes to historical monuments, there’s a lot to explore in this unique country. Some of the popular places of interest are – Nader Shah Castle (Mashhad), Persepolis (Shiraz), Pink Lake (Maharlo), interesting caves like the Namkadan Cave in Qeshm and Ali Sadr Cave in Hamedan, serene villages such as the Kandavan Village in Tabriz and Palangan Village in Kurdistan, mosques and other religious places with rich traditional architecture (like in Mashhad, Shiraz, and Qom).

Do you have a favorite traditional dish?

We have many traditional foods, some of which belong to the entire nation, such as kebabs, qormeh sabzi, ghee, and then there are foods that are specific to cities such as abgoosht, sholeh, kashk, and aush. Iranian food can excite your senses. Our people prepare these dishes with love.

That’s so fascinating! Now let’s talk about academics. What are you studying at ITMO?

My field of study at ITMO is information security. However, I am currently learning Russian at the Foundation Program.

“I am proud to be an ITMO student because it provides an exciting opportunity to network with other international students,” says Hamidreza. Photo courtesy of the subject

“I am proud to be an ITMO student because it provides an exciting opportunity to network with other international students,” says Hamidreza. Photo courtesy of the subject

Why did you decide to study in Russia?

To be honest, Russia is one of the best countries in the fields of computer science and cybersecurity. So I decided to travel to this country and obtain a Master's degree, as it will massively improve my skills and expertise.

What do you like the most about St. Petersburg?

The city of St. Petersburg is a combination of a variety of beautiful things. It is a city with old architecture, the Neva river that passes through the middle, and a lot more. St. Petersburg is known as the Venice of the North and it is completely justified. One can also experience some extraordinary natural events such as white nights.

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

It is a privilege to study at a university where you get to make friends from all over the world. It helps me learn about different cultures, from a non-political point of view. I hope I can be a good representative of my country at ITMO.

How much Russian have you learned already?

Not much. Learning the Russian language is very difficult for me.

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

One of the most enjoyable things as an international student, in my opinion, is trying different types of food. So far I have tried borscht, pelmeni, blini, and Russian cutlets. I enjoyed them all!

What do you like the most about Russian culture?

I've been in this country for about 4 months only. So far, based on what I have seen, I like how people celebrate occasions such as New Year. The city looks gorgeous with its mesmerizing decorations. I really like the subway stations. They are very attractive and some of them are quite informative with their murals as well. Another beautiful aspect of Russian culture is that people here love reading. I have seen so many people reading books on subway trains and buses. It is such a good habit.

Have you been to some of the popular destinations here?

I’ve visited the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, the State Hermitage Museum, and Nevsky Prospekt. In the near future, I would like to explore Peterhof.

Hamidreza loves traveling and wishes to explore cities besides St. Petersburg in the near future. Photo courtesy of the subject

Hamidreza loves traveling and wishes to explore cities besides St. Petersburg in the near future. Photo courtesy of the subject

Can you share a memory of your early days in Russia?

Since I arrived in Russia and the city of St. Petersburg, many things have happened, which are sometimes good and sometimes unpleasant. But I am happy that there have been more good events than bad ones. My best memory so far is the act of kindness shown by a family in St. Petersburg. 

Let me elaborate. In my early days, I was once lost and unable to reach my destination even after several attempts. When nothing worked, I decided to ask a nearby family for help. They found out that I am new there and offered to escort me all the way to my destination. This was such a big favor for me, given the circumstances. I am forever grateful to them.

That’s so wonderful! Another challenge in Russia is the winter. How did you adjust to the weather here?

We all know that Russia is a cold country. So, I told myself from day one that I have to get used to it just like everyone else. I believe that if you dress up properly, you will not feel much cold. So, the only way to adapt to the cold here is to have proper clothes and shoes ready at all times.

What are your hobbies?

What I like doing is swimming. I like to visit the swimming pool whenever I get the chance. On other occasions, especially on weekends, I usually go to the city center with my friends and visit different places of interest.

Would you recommend ITMO to students in Iran?

I have already recommended this university to several of my friends in Iran. It is a no-brainer!