Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Hi, my name is Affandy Fahrizain and I am from Indonesia. I just graduated from the Master’s program in big data and machine learning. My specialization track was machine learning. I love to travel a lot; it always allows me to see new things, appreciate different perspectives, learn new cultures, and much more!

What is your home country like?

Indonesia is a beautiful country. There is a well-known province called Bali, which most people think is a different country altogether, but it isn’t! My country is blessed with beautiful nature, beaches, and mountains – especially on the island of Java, where I lived since my birth.

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

Bali is the most popular one, but if you don’t like crowded places, you may try to visit Lombok, an island in the West Nusa Tenggara province.

Do you have a traditional food that reminds you of home?

Yes, chicken opor is one of my favorite dishes. It is a special food that we usually eat during the big celebration day of Islam – Eid al-Fitr.

Do you have any family traditions that make you nostalgic?

Yes, my parents always taught me to respect the elders, be kind, and always smile to everyone.

Affandy with his red diploma at ITMO.Live 2023. Photo courtesy of the subject

Affandy with his red diploma at ITMO.Live 2023. Photo courtesy of the subject

Now, let’s talk about academics. Why did you decide to study in Russia?

I was always curious about how it is to live in four-seasonal countries like Russia, since Indonesia is a tropical country that only has two seasons. Also, the fact that the Muslim population is quite large in Russia made me believe that it would be safe to live there and practice my religion without worry about cultural intolerance.

How much Russian have you learned already?

I started from zero knowledge of Russian (because I didn’t go to preparatory year), but now, after two years, I am able to have basic daily conversations with my Russian friends. I was also able to travel by myself to several cities and ask about directions, transportation, hostels, etc. in Russian.

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

It was awesome! I got to meet many people from different countries and share our interesting stories with each other. Some of us turned out to have similar experiences, while others had something new to share. I also had opportunities to work with super cool professors in my major. It was definitely an amazing experience for me.

What surprised you the most about St. Petersburg?

The weather is almost always cold! Even in the spring and autumn it is still cold.

How did you adjust to the cold weather here?

I used to wear multiple layers of clothes while going outside during winter, especially in my first year. But then I tried to reduce the layers of clothes so that I could train my body to adjust to the cold.

“I am spellbound by the architectural marvels of St. Petersburg,” says Affandy. Photo courtesy of the subject

“I am spellbound by the architectural marvels of St. Petersburg,” says Affandy. Photo courtesy of the subject

What are your hobbies?

Hiking! Usually in my home country, I spend my holidays hiking with my friends. It also helps me refresh my mind and allows me to breathe in lots of fresh air.

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

Learn Russian and don’t neglect the culture! It was my biggest mistake and I ended up having multiple culture shocks here. So, it’s best to keep yourself updated with Russian culture. Also, learning Russian will open a lot of opportunities for you here.

Let's end the interview with a series of rapid-fire questions:

  1. Your favorite Russian monument: the Narva Triumphal Arch or the Palace Square in front of the Hermitage.
  2. Favorite Russian song or movie: Katyusha, because this song brings a high spirit to the listener.
  3. One Russian dish you don’t like: grechka, the taste is too strong for me.
  4. A misconception about Russia you had before coming here: I thought it would be so expensive to live in Russia, but turns out it wasn’t. I can say that the cost of living here was not that high compared to that in my country.
  5. Your dream destination in Russia: Murmansk and Dagestan, because I want to see the aurora borealis and enjoy Dagestan’s nature.