Please tell us something about yourself.

I am from Congo, a country in Central Africa that was formerly known as Zaire. I came here to Russia almost three years ago.

What are you studying at ITMO?

I am studying for a Bachelor’s degree in mobile and network technologies. I am in my third year now.

What got you interested in this program?

I did some research online and discovered that ITMO is involved in numerous exciting projects. This played a very significant role in helping me make up my mind. Also, I want to develop my programming and front-end skills and ITMO is the best place to do that.

Did you have Russian classes in your first year?

Yes, I did. I was enrolled in the Foundation Program, where I had to learn Russian grammar and vocabulary for one year. By the grace of God, I did well in the exam.

Are you studying your core subjects in Russian, too?

Yes, my entire course is in Russian.

And are you able to understand them well?

Earlier, it was somewhat difficult for me to understand everything that the professors said. However, I kept working on my Russian every day and now, I do understand a lot more. I am sure that, with more practice, I will be able to do even better.

What motivated you to study in Russia?

I received invitations to study at several universities in China, Turkey, and Europe. But it was only Russia that offered a scholarship. Any form of scholarship is an added advantage for students. As a result, I decided to study in Russia over every other option.

Also, I was really impressed by Russian culture and science. This made me even more excited to grab this opportunity. 

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

I won’t lie, it is difficult for any foreigner to adapt to a new country. Especially the first few days are really tough. But gradually things start becoming better. ITMO is a great university in terms of how the staff here look after the international students. They help everyone feel comfortable and included.

“ITMO has given me the opportunity to connect with students from all over the world,” says Nathan. Photo courtesy of the subject

“ITMO has given me the opportunity to connect with students from all over the world,” says Nathan. Photo courtesy of the subject

Did you make friends from other countries?

Yes, I did make some international friends here. You know, when you are away from your family, you need to make friends. I am lucky to have some very kind and helpful friends who always have my back. We help each other with our studies and work. Also, we practice speaking Russian together.

How much Russian have you learned by now?

On paper, my level is B2. So, I do understand and speak some Russian. After all, the Foundation Program was not for nothing! Compared to what I was in the first year, I would say, I am proud of myself.

How do you feel in St. Petersburg?

It is undoubtedly a beautiful city. When I first arrived here, I could clearly see the difference when compared to other cities. Its architecture and natural beauty are unparalleled. 

What are some of the places that you have visited in St. Petersburg?

I have been to many places. In the city, I have been to different museums, parks, and squares. The Hermitage and Peterhof are two of my favorites. I love taking a walk and exploring the city during summer. I have also been to other cities. I really liked Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, which is the cultural center of Kamchatka Krai.

Have you been to Yagodnoe?

No, unfortunately, I have not gotten the chance to visit Yagodnoe yet. But it is on my wishlist and, hopefully, I will soon be able to go there.

What about your accommodation? Where do you stay?

I stay in ITMO’s dormitory No.1, which is located on Vyazemsky Lane. 

What is your opinion of Russian food?

Unfortunately, I have not tried many Russian dishes. It is not that I don’t like Russian cuisine, but I am simply more comfortable with other kinds of food. If I were to name some of the Russian dishes that I have tried, they would be borscht and plov (although it is not originally a Russian dish, it is very popular in Russia). 

Do you make your own food?

Yes. Usually, I prepare those recipes that I learned from my mother. It reminds me of home and makes me happy.

What has been your most memorable moment so far in Russia?

It has to be the first excursion that I went on with my teachers and groupmates from the Foundation Program. We had a lot of fun while exploring the entire city together. This experience is etched permanently in my memory.

Wow, that is so cool. Also, do you like sports?

Yes, I am a huge fan of football.

Nathan living his dream of watching a football match at the Gazprom Arena. Photo courtesy of the subject

Nathan living his dream of watching a football match at the Gazprom Arena. Photo courtesy of the subject

Have you gone to see a game at Gazprom Arena?

Oh yes, I did get the opportunity to visit the Gazprom Arena, the home of Zenit St. Petersburg football club, to watch a match and honestly, it was surreal. I had to pinch myself to confirm that it wasn’t a dream. The atmosphere was electric. It was a lifetime experience for me.

Which is your favorite football team?

My favorite is Barcelona. I am a huge fan of this team because of its playing style. I like their genius tiki-taka style of play.

Who is your favorite player?

I am a fan of Messi. He is a genius player who makes things happen. I really loved watching him lift the 2022 World Cup. I wish him good luck in the future!

Amazing! Here’s the final question. What are your future plans?

That is a good question. I would like to graduate with excellent grades. So, for now, I would focus on my studies. Also, I would like to visit my family members who are living in Congo. After that, I would like to continue studying at ITMO for my Master’s. Since I have spent so much time here at ITMO, it would be best for me to continue studying here.