Please tell us something about yourself.

I am Md. Asiful Islam, you can call me Asif in short. I am from Barisal in Bangladesh and am currently enrolled in the Foundation Program where I am learning the Russian language. Next year, I will begin attending my Bachelor’s degree classes. Also, I’ve won the Russian government scholarship.

What is the name of your Bachelor’s program?

My Bachelor’s program is called Computer Systems and Technologies

Where was your high school?

I studied at the Government Science College in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

What was your favorite subject in school?

As a child, I used to like math and English, but as I grew up, I became fascinated with science, too.

Were you focused on extracurricular activities in school?

Yes, a lot! Once upon a time, I really wanted to become an athlete. In Asia, football and cricket are really popular sports. And I wanted to become a cricketer, too, but never had the chance to join an academy. I used to practice on my own and play with friends. But I really enjoyed playing cricket. Hopefully, I will also be able to keep playing sports at ITMO.

Of course. Have you checked out ITMO KronBars?

Yes, I have visited their website a few times and I want to join the volleyball team. Let’s see how it goes. I have never played volleyball before but I am excited to try it out.

When did you decide to study in a foreign country?

It started a long time ago. Actually, my mother used to tell me a lot of stories about foreign countries, especially Russia. During our liberation war in 1971, Russia played a big part in helping us achieve freedom. Therefore, I grew up listening to numerous stories about Russia. When I was in the final year of school, I started searching for information about studying in Russia and that’s how I came across ITMO.

Where did you look for information regarding ITMO?

I used to go through both ITMO’s websites and social media accounts, especially the ones in English (TelegramTwitter, VK). They helped me learn a lot about ITMO and the student life here.

So, is this your first time in Russia?

Yes, this is my first trip to Russia. In fact, this is my first time traveling outside Bangladesh.

What was your first international trip like?

It was quite interesting. I was a bit nervous, but the journey turned out to be really smooth. The first few days after arriving in Russia were a bit stressful, especially because of the weather. In Bangladesh, we have summer-like weather all year round and in Russia, it is mostly very cold. So, it took me a few days to get accustomed to this massive change. Besides that, I was really amazed by Russia and especially St. Petersburg.

Did you receive support from ITMO’s International Office during your preparations?

Yes, I did receive a lot of help and support from them. I had a few questions regarding accommodation and living expenses that they explained to me really well. Even after arriving here, they have helped me with the extension of my visa and other official paperwork.

“This is the first time that I have traveled outside Bangladesh,” says Asiful. Photo courtesy of the subject

“This is the first time that I have traveled outside Bangladesh,” says Asiful. Photo courtesy of the subject

What special items did you pack with you?

I packed a lot of spices! Asian food is spicy and we love it. However, those spices are rare to find in Russia. So, I decided to bring a lot of them along with me. Also, winter clothes like jackets, mufflers, and gloves filled up most of my bag’s space.

Do you own winter shoes?

Yes, I brought a pair from home and they also have a woolen lining on the inside. But I am not sure if this will be enough when it starts snowing. Maybe I will need to buy a new pair of Russian winter boots.

How does it feel after living in this country for a month?

My early impressions are really great. Russia is a fascinating country with so much history and cultural richness. Unfortunately, I have not been able to explore much as of now, but I will surely explore the country in the days to come.

Have you completed your medical examination and fingerprint registration?

Yes, I have already completed these mandatory procedures. Arafat, who is a senior student from Bangladesh, helped me a lot with all of this. For the medical examination and fingerprint registration, I had to pay around 6,500 rubles. I have to purchase medical insurance as well. This will probably cost around 4,000 rubles.

Where are you staying?

I’m staying in the dormitory located on Vyazemsky Lane and I love it. Not only because of the infrastructure and living conditions, but also because of the people. I have made so many new friends, both international and Russian. The overall ambience in this dormitory is very light-hearted and cheerful.

Where are your roommates from?

I have two roommates. One of them is from Bangladesh and the other is from Nepal.

Have your classes begun?

Yes, I have started attending my Russian classes at ITMO. It is a very fun experience. Currently, we are learning how to do basic conversations using a few easy phrases. We also have a little bit of grammar in our curriculum.

What is your first impression of the Russian language?

So far it has been a good experience. The grammar is a bit hard for me, but I am not giving up hope. I want to work hard and learn this language as soon as possible. 

Did you try Russian food?

Not yet, but I really want to. I want to begin with Russian soups like borscht and solyanka.

Did you try shopping in St. Petersburg?

Yes, I did go to a few malls here. I don’t remember their names, but they are absolutely huge! The varieties of shops and products available are also quite impressive. 

Asiful can play the guitar and is now learning to play the ukulele on his own. Photo courtesy of the subject

Asiful can play the guitar and is now learning to play the ukulele on his own. Photo courtesy of the subject

What extracurricular activities are you looking forward to pursuing at ITMO?

Besides sports, I am also very passionate about music. I play the guitar and I am learning to play the ukulele on my own. So, I would surely love to continue practicing these instruments and hopefully be able to perform at ITMO some day.

You should join one of ITMO’s music clubs.

Yes, I have read about them. I think I can’t join them while I am a student at the Foundation Program. But I will surely do so once I start my main program.

What excites you most about your future?

We all know that ITMO is one of the best universities when it comes to coding. So, I am really excited to learn this skill at ITMO and train myself to become a highly skilled professional programmer one day.