Thanks for joining me today for this interview.

The pleasure is mine. I have been waiting for this day for a long time. All my friends had been interviewed in the past. I was patiently waiting for my chance.

Well, the day has arrived! Please tell us about yourself. 

I am Minhajul Islam from Chandpur district in Chattogram, Bangladesh. However, I was born and brought up in Dhaka, where I also completed my schooling. My hometown is famous for its ports and fish farms. Among a variety of fishes grown here, hilsa is the most popular one. Chandpur is also popular among tourists. 

So interesting! What are the main festivals of Bangladesh?

Bangladesh has two main religious communities – Muslims and Hindus. Hence, we celebrate the religious festivals of both communities, namely, Eid-al-Fitr and Durga Puja. We also have a few other religious communities like Christians and Buddhists, who observe their religious festivals as well. Apart from religious festivals, we also organize cultural celebrations like Poila Boisakh (Bengali New Year).

Why did you choose to study in Russia?

Russia is a country that is very strong in terms of culture and technology. When I was in school, I used to read a lot about the various achievements of Russian students. That inspired me to start looking for opportunities to study in Russia. That’s when I came across the Russian government scholarship for international students and decided to pursue my higher education in this country.

Was the process of getting this scholarship difficult?

Not at all. In fact, the procedure was super smooth. I just had to prepare the documents and go through an interview. The rest of the things were efficiently handled by the executives at the Russian House in Dhaka. My experience was excellent!

So, what are you studying at ITMO?

Currently, I am a student in the Foundation Program, where I am studying the Russian language along with mathematics and the basics of information technology. Come September, I will start my Bachelor’s degree program in computer systems and technologies.

What motivated you to choose this program in particular?

I have been interested in computers since a young age and I want my country to stand firmly in the IT industry so that in the future we will not have to borrow wisdom from other countries. So, I want to train myself to become an expert in this field. 

What has your experience as an ITMO student been so far?

I have been at ITMO for almost seven months now and it has really been an amazing experience. I have made many new friends, both Russian and from other countries. The teachers here are very friendly, cooperative, and skilled. In a nutshell, my time at ITMO has been nothing short of brilliant.

Has there been any challenges yet?

I have been facing some health issues recently. But thanks to my friends here, I was able to consult a doctor and undergo treatment. Now I am feeling much better. However, I am still attending my classes remotely.

Oh, I wish you a speedy recovery. Was your illness because of the cold weather?

I don’t know, but it might have contributed to some extent. In Bangladesh, the weather is always warm and humid. But in Russia, during the winter, the weather is extremely harsh. It took me a few weeks to adapt to the cold, although I really enjoyed watching snowfall in St. Petersburg.

“The Peter and Paul Fortress is one of my favorite places in St. Petersburg,” says Minhajul. Photo courtesy of the subject

“The Peter and Paul Fortress is one of my favorite places in St. Petersburg,” says Minhajul. Photo courtesy of the subject

What else do you enjoy doing in St. Petersburg?

St. Petersburg is rich in culture, art, and architecture. I had a wonderful time visiting some of the famous monuments and buildings in this city. The Hermitage, Peter and Paul Fortress, and Peterhof Palace are my favorites. During the summer holidays, I plan to explore Kazan and Moscow.

Is traveling your hobby?

Yes, you guessed it right. I really like to travel and explore new places. Besides traveling, I am also passionate about extracurricular activities such as sports. Cricket is the most popular sport in Bangladesh and I have been enthusiastic about it since childhood. 

Did you get a chance to play cricket in Russia?

Not yet because of the weather. But I have plans to play a lot of sports with my friends. There is a beautiful playground adjacent to my dormitory.

Oh, which dormitory are you staying in?

I am living at the dormitory located on Vyazemsky Lane 5-7. Many international students live in this dorm, making the environment inside quite interesting. The rooms are neat and tidy and the fee is not very high as well. It is located at a convenient distance from the university and the availability of a number of supermarkets nearby makes it a comfortable place to live in.

Have you tried Russian cuisine?

There are a lot of cuisines available in Russia. I have tried шашлык (barbecue) and плов (pilaf). I am a big fan of shawarma as well. While none of these are traditional Russian dishes, they are quite prevalent in Russia. 

What are your plans for the future?

After my graduation, I would return to my country and establish myself as an accomplished IT expert. I also plan to launch my own startup in Bangladesh and help strengthen the IT sector of my country. My dream is to see Bangladesh become self-sufficient in this domain and make significant progress.

Finally, what would your advice be for future ITMO students from Bangladesh?

Every year, more than 100 students from Bangladesh come to study in Russia. For every one of them, my advice would be to do your research well and learn about the education system here. From my experience, the curricula here are tougher than in Bangladesh. Also, learning the language beforehand would definitely make your life easier when you come here. 

When I was in Bangladesh, I participated in several volunteering activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Such experiences really come in handy and I would encourage everyone to explore opportunities like that before coming to Russia.