Thank you so much for joining me today. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you as well and thanks for having me today.

First of all, where are you from? 

I'm from Cameroon. In my country, when someone asks where we are from, we say where our parents are from. So, my parents are from a small town in the center of the country and they grew up in a small village called Sa’a. 

Ah, very interesting! So, tell me more about the cultural traditions prevalent in your country. 

Cameroon is in the center of Africa. Historically, it was mainly a trade place. If you go to Cameroon, you will find people from different ethnicities of Africa. And we have a lot of religions, too. For instance, my mother’s culture is more like English culture. And my father’s is from the center of the country. Respecting elders is the main virtue taught in my culture. Also, everybody is not free to do what they like. You have to not only abide by some family laws but also respect them. 

Is Cameroon more inclined towards modernism or does it like to preserve its traditions? 

Cameroon’s culture is unique. But I don't know the exact answer to your question. It depends on the case, you see. It depends on the situation. Cameroon is a place where there are rich traditions, but there is also some modernity.

Africa is very well known for its wildlife. So, does Cameroon also have any special animals or birds? 

Yes, there are places in Cameroon where you can see wild animals. We have forests – the savannah and also deserts. Every animal you can imagine is there. In the deserts, we have huge hippopotamuses in small plots of water. And in the center of the country, there are lions. In the east, people live a bit more traditionally. The people here are hunters and gatherers who have also learned the art of agriculture.

Do you have any special food or any traditional food that you like a lot? 

There is one grass vegetable that I really like a lot called eru. Depending on where they are from, people cook it differently. My father's family cooks it differently than how my mother's family cooks it. The name of the dish my mother used to cook is eru, as well. And the way my father cooks it is called okok.

“I really love technology and Russia is known for its advanced tech worldwide,” says Donald. Photo courtesy of the subject

“I really love technology and Russia is known for its advanced tech worldwide,” says Donald. Photo courtesy of the subject

Okok? Very interesting. We all know Cameroon for its football. Do you like football? 

Yes, we play it a lot. When I was younger, we used to play with bottles. In the past, it wasn't easy to get our hands on a ball. So, we played with something that we could kick like a bottle, or just take a few blocks and wrap them up in a ball. So, yeah, football is the main sport of my country. It is very popular. 

When did you decide that you want to study abroad? 

I was studying accounting and finance, you see, but I was struggling to land a job. I was doing a very long internship, for almost two years, when I realized that I needed something more. Something more technical. One day I saw an announcement that there is a scholarship to study in Russia and I just applied and because of it I was able to come here. 

How many years have you been in Russia now? 

This is my fifth year. Before ITMO, I studied at the Ural Federal University, 

And what are you studying these days? 

I am studying artificial intelligence. I am doing a Master’s degree.

How good is your Russian now? 

I can speak good Russian, I think. All my classes at ITMO are in Russian, but I can understand everything that is taught clearly.  

You live in an ITMO dormitory on Lensoveta 23. What are your impressions of the dorm? 

The dorm is nice. Nevertheless, it's a dorm. So. I have no big expectations. But I admit the services are really good. The thing I like the most is that it’s open 24/7. If I want to go out at night, I can do that without any trouble. 

Donald at Moscow’s famous St. Basil’s Cathedral. Photo courtesy of the subject

Donald at Moscow’s famous St. Basil’s Cathedral. Photo courtesy of the subject

Is this your first time in St. Petersburg? 

Oh, yes. I came here in August 2023. That was my first time. 

And what is your impression of the city so far? 

The city is big. I haven't been everywhere yet. I look forward to visiting many places in St. Petersburg in 2024. I don't know much about the city now, but I am curious. 

What do you like to do in your free time? 

Technically, I like to play football, but because in winter I can’t play outdoor sports, I like to learn new skills by watching tutorials. I often sleep in my free time because it is essential for maintaining good health. 

What are your plans after you finish your Master’s? 

I would like to do a PhD and then get into a career in teaching, probably. 

And my final question – what advice would you give to students from Cameroon or Africa who want to come here and study?

Okay, from my experience, I would advise everyone not to believe everything you read on the internet because the web is full of misinformation, especially about Russia. Always believe your own experiences. Try first and then decide.