Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am a curious, friendly, outgoing, and adventurous Zimbabwean young lady. I am an opportunist by nature and I really like trying out new things, challenging myself, and testing my capabilities. 

Tell us something about your country.

Zimbabwe is a very beautiful country with amazing landscapes and views. It is currently economically unstable but that opens up amazing opportunities for us future young entrepreneurs!

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

You can get a magnificent view of Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side. Also, the Chinhoyi Caves (also called the Sleeping Pool) are really magical! If you love nature, camping and hiking should be on your to-do list in Zimbabwe. You might also like to explore the Savannah wildlife, as well as the Nyanga, Matobo, Chimanimani, Mana Pools, and Matusadona national parks. One can explore the first civilizations in Zimbabwe by visiting Great Zimbabwe, Khami, Naletale, and Dhlodhlo ruins.

How would you describe the people of your country?

People from Zimbabwe are simple and open-minded. We accept every opportunity that comes our way to make our lives better. We are hardworking people with high ambitions. Zimbabweans are very friendly and helpful, too. 

Do you have a favorite traditional food?

Because of cultural dilution, our traditional food is not quite popular. Generally, it is pretty simple and doesn't have too many spices in it. I love manhuchu (samp), sadza nemutsine/nemuboora (sadza is prepared with blackjack/pumpkin leaves), and a traditional chicken stew.

Awesome! Let’s talk about academics. What are you studying at ITMO?

I am a first-year Bachelor’s student of mechatronics and robotics.

Why did you decide to study in Russia?

I was offered the opportunity to study in Russia, at one of the best tech universities in the country, by my government. I saw it as a great opportunity to learn more about AI and become a young person who is relevant in this digitalized and tech-savvy era. Russia is also quite affordable and has student-friendly living conditions.

What do you like the most about St. Petersburg?

The transport system is super efficient! Besides, it's a really beautiful and colorful city. 

Yvonne appreciates the atmosphere at ITMO. “The teachers help you a lot to settle in,” she adds. Photo courtesy of the subject

Yvonne appreciates the atmosphere at ITMO.The teachers help you a lot to settle in,” she adds. Photo courtesy of the subject

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

It's an amazing experience, especially because most of the teachers here are super nice. ITMO in general is very student-friendly and also quite good in terms of student-teacher ratio, meaning I can actually interact with my lecturers (which is something that is not easily accessible in Zimbabwean colleges). 

I am grateful to the Foundation Program (where I studied last year) for providing me with such a friendly environment and teaching me how to speak and comprehend the Russian language.

How much Russian have you learned already?

I would say I am at the B1 level. I can have simple conversations, quite fluently.

Do you have any favorite Russian food?

I love trying out all kinds of food here (except гречка or buckwheat). Unfortunately, I don't quite remember all the names. But I would say that I love all the soups that I have tasted, especially at the ITMO canteen. The Napoleon cake is so far the best cake that has pleased my sweet tooth.

Where do you like to eat in St. Petersburg?

I love visiting Tokyo City, especially for its delicious Japanese dishes. 

Do you like Russian music? Do you have any favorite artists?

I do listen to Russian music. But I can't say that I have a favorite artist yet. However, I do adore Polina Gargarina's amazing voice!

What are your favorite places to visit in St. Petersburg?

I really enjoyed visiting Kronstadt, the Peter and Paul Fortress, Krestovsky Island, St. Isaac's Cathedral, and Kazan Cathedral. My favorite beaches are on stations Begovaya and Ozerki. Piterland, a shopping mall, has a great indoor water park, too.

“I love exploring the city. It is one of my hobbies,” says Yvonne. Photo courtesy of the subject

“I love exploring the city. It is one of my hobbies,” says Yvonne. Photo courtesy of the subject

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

Good experience: one day at the beach during summer, I befriended two amazing children (who were then 7 and 5 years old) and their grandmother. We made super cool sand castles together. It was a very heartwarming moment for me. More so because I generally like spending time with children.

Bad experience: settling in during the first semester was super hard. I remember having my first-ever emotional breakdown triggered by being constantly lost on campus or failing to express myself during class because of the language barrier. I am grateful to the African friends that I met here, who made me feel that I wasn't alone.

How did you adjust to the cold weather here?

My town back home is very cold during winter, so my mama made sure that I carried a pair of very warm socks and gloves. Also, she keeps reminding me to drink the special tea that I brought from home. It is a relief that the indoor-heating systems here in Russia are efficient.

What are your hobbies?

#Volleyball_keeps_me_going! I love playing volleyball. I registered myself at KronBars for the whole of last semester. I have picked up working out in the gym whenever I have some free time. I used to be an amateur actress and singer back home. Now I do sing a lot but in the shower, LOL! I like traveling as well, but going out in the winter is quite difficult.

Any advice that you would like to give to future ITMO students from Zimbabwe?

It's never too late to study. I saw this phrase on a corridor poster at ITMO and I can’t get it out of my head!