Please introduce yourself and your hometown to our readers.

My name is Emad Saleh Ateefa, a 21-year-old from Yemen. My country is located in the Middle East. I was born in the city of Tarim in Hadhramaut Governorate. I arrived in Russia last September and now I am studying the Russian language along with a few other subjects in the Foundation Program.

What is your country or hometown known for?

My country, Yemen, was home to the oldest civilizations in the world, dating back to BC. We have many ancient monuments, such as the Throne of Bilqis and the old city of Sana’a. I was born in the city of Tarim, which was chosen back in 2010 to be the capital of Islamic culture in Islamic countries, being a home to many palaces, Islamic schools, and authors of popular books. Many famous writers and poets of the world have lived in Tarim.

What traditional festivals do you celebrate in your country?

We have two days in a year that we celebrate according to the Hijri calendar. We call them Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. On these holidays, all families gather together, cook food, and enjoy their time.

Tell us a little about your childhood.

My childhood was forged with technology. I got my first laptop when I was 7 years old. As a child, I loved electronic devices and used to spend long hours on the internet playing games. When I was young, I always dreamed of traveling and studying abroad because all my brothers were international students too. I studied a lot until I won numerous scholarships and finally chose Russia to study here.

What inspired you to study in Russia?

I am particularly fascinated by the rich history and groundbreaking contributions of Soviet scientists to space exploration. Their bold endeavors, such as the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, and the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into space (you can relive Gagarin’s epic journey in real time with our Telegram bot – Ed.), have significantly influenced the trajectory of human civilization. Additionally, the impressive performance of Russian universities in global rankings reflects the nation's steadfast commitment to excellence in education and research.

What will you be studying at ITMO?

I will specialize in the design and technology of electronic devices at the Faculty of Secure Information Technologies. I will study circuit design for electronic devices and how to program and protect these devices from hackers and malware.

Emad Ateefa in St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of the subject

Emad Ateefa in St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of the subject

How did you get interested in this field?

As I mentioned before, I have loved technology since I was young. I like to combine engineering, physics, and programming in electronic devices and electrical circuits. So I chose this specialization in particular at ITMO University because it is closest to my interest and passion.


ITMO offers one of the most beautiful academic environments in Russia. The libraries have co-working spaces, there are fully equipped classrooms, and a flexible academic system, everything here is perfect. I think what distinguishes ITMO is that it has integrated technology into education more than other universities. 

Tell us about your experience of traveling abroad.

Traveling abroad ranks as one of the most enriching experiences for a student. It has opened my eyes to diverse cultures and enabled me to witness the grandeur of heritage sites. Prior to my arrival in Russia, I spent a month in Egypt. There, I forged friendships with some incredible individuals, which made for an unparalleled experience. Going ahead, I aim to extend my travels to China and Turkey.

How does it feel to live in St. Petersburg?

St. Petersburg is a truly beautiful city, defined by its tranquility, nature, heritage, and culture. Its charm has inspired countless writers to create novels, poems, and scientific research. Living here provides me with a great sense of comfort and a wealth of inspiration to write down my own ideas.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are reading, writing, sports, and poetry. Reading is my favorite hobby because it enriches my understanding of life. Every time I finish a book, I feel like I've added the author's years of experience to my own. Each book provides a distilled version of someone else's life, detailing how they faced and solved their problems. This allows me to learn valuable lessons and strategies for dealing with similar challenges in my own life, effectively saving time and gaining wisdom from others' experiences.

Could you mention a few pros and cons of being an international student in Russia?


1. Excellent education of international quality;

2. The beauty of Russian cities, cultural diversity, and nature!

3. The high-security standards inside the cities, which makes me feel safe all the time.


1. Dormitories are not very good, but they are cheap;

2. The Russian language takes a lot of time to learn, being one of the most difficult languages ​​in the world;

3. The weather is very cold in winter.

Could you share a few tips to not feel homesick or like a fish out of water?

Initiating conversations with Russians can be highly rewarding, even though they often prefer not to start conversations themselves. Once you make the first move, they are usually very engaging and open. This can lead to wonderful friendships that enrich your experience and help you navigate life in Russia. Showing genuine interest and respect for their culture, traditions, and perspectives can go a long way in building these connections.

Emad Ateefa at Palace Square, St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of the subject

Emad Ateefa at Palace Square, St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of the subject

What are your future plans?

After graduation, I plan to work for a company to gain valuable experience, which will help me build my own business when I return to my country. I will also leverage the knowledge and skills I acquired at ITMO. Additionally, I aim to travel to many countries to further enhance my scientific expertise. One of my ambitions is to implement ITMO’s educational system in the universities of my country, as it provides students with superior scientific experience. During the course of my Bachelor’s degree, I also intend to establish strong academic relationships with professors, experts, and fellow peers. 

To conclude our conversation, would you like to give any advice to future ITMO students?

Studying diligently and putting in significant effort is essential for success at ITMO University. It's a challenging institution, but not an impossible one. With dedication, you can achieve great milestones. Excelling at ITMO is not just an ordinary achievement; it signifies outstanding performance on a global scale, as ITMO is among the top universities worldwide.