Please introduce yourself and your hometown to our readers.

I was born and brought up in Bamako, the capital city of Mali, which is also the largest and most populated city in the country. It is well-known for being the leading producer of cotton in Sub-Saharan Africa. The people of Mali are considered the pioneers in the art of living together, respecting fundamental rights, accessing justice, cultural mixing, hospitality, solidarity, tolerance, etc. People here are light-hearted and often like to joke with each other. You would also feel a strong sense of kinship here. The people in my city are very hospitable and very attached to culture and traditions.

Wonderful. So, what are you currently studying at ITMO?

I am a student in the Foundation Program now, where I am studying the Russian language. However, this September onwards, I will be a Bachelor’s student of information security.

What made you interested in this field?

I have always been passionate about technology, more precisely about computers and how to browse the internet safely. That’s why I chose this field. It’s my childhood dream to make the internet a safer place!

Wow! What inspired you to come to Russia?

I know a few people personally who had earned their degrees in Russia and are now very well-trained and established professionals. This is why, when I got a Russian government scholarship, I immediately accepted the offer. I had no second thoughts!

Why did you choose ITMO?

After being accepted for the scholarship, I started researching Russian universities that provide good programs in cybersecurity and ITMO was among the best in business. The decision was quite simple thereafter.

How is your Russian proficiency now?

My Russian is not that bad now. I can understand what people say, but I still have trouble making myself understood. This is something I need to work on. Russian is in no way an easy language. The grammar is really complicated!

How long have you been in St. Petersburg?

I have been here for eight months now. In the beginning, it was a bit complicated because this was my first time living alone, so far from my family. But thanks to my teachers and the friends that I made here, I feel very good now.

Recently, you participated in a poetry event. How did you learn about it and what was your experience?

I was informed about this event by Ekaterina Gurzheeva, who curates ITMO University’s Foundation Program. The poetry event was a very pleasant experience. Usually, I am a very shy person and I have a lot of trouble speaking in front of strangers, but I somehow gathered my courage to face the audience and recite my poem well. This experience helped me overcome my shyness to a great extent. 

Speaking of overcoming challenges, how did you adapt to the cold here?

St. Petersburg’s weather was a real problem for me during the winter. In my country, it is very hot and here it is the opposite. Now the weather has improved a lot and I am enjoying the city much more. I think with time I will get used to it. 

Do you like Russian food?

I am a very picky eater, which is why the only Russian foods I've tried are blinis and pelmenis. They weren’t that bad.

Summers in St. Petersburg are amazing. Where do you like to hang out?

I like Nevsky Prospekt and I often walk there. I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the city.

Have you been to other cities in Russia?

Unfortunately, no, but I would very much like to visit Moscow and Kazan.

What are your goals in life?

After my graduation, I would like to pursue a Master’s degree. I also want to return to my country and contribute to the development of its IT department.

“If you have big dreams, ITMO is the best place to realize them,” says Dicko. Photo courtesy of the subject

“If you have big dreams, ITMO is the best place to realize them,” says Dicko. Photo courtesy of the subject

Any advice for future ITMO students from your country?

ITMO is one of the best universities in the world. But studying here is not so easy. However, if you want to get a good education and build a good career, then I strongly advise you to choose ITMO. Be courageous and determined because with those two virtues everything is possible!