I have been all over the world: I was born in Germany, studied in Turkey and spent most of my life in Azerbaijan. I went to an English-speaking private school and, even though many people in Azerbaijan speak Russian, I’ve learned very little of it, so I’ve been working on it since I arrived in Russia.

I have a desire for education and I’ve done a lot of research on the best places to study. I already have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, and when I discovered this double degree program in Computer System Information Security with a 2nd year at Aalto University, I felt like I had to apply. I know that progress and research in cybersecurity is generally strong in Russia and particularly at ITMO. The Russian government invested in research centers in Russia and ITMO is one of the best in this research area. I am doing research in Big Data security and cybersecurity in Industry 4.0. Although all of my classes are taught in English, I have taken a Russian language course to improve my verbal skills. I believe that I will get research exposure and industry experience from my lecturers. As for the future, I expect to use my background and skills to become a part of an organization that would benefit my home country. I’ve always wanted to come to St. Petersburg and experience the amazing culture of this city. St. Petersburg is not the state capital of Russia, but it is its cultural capital. The world’s second largest art museum, the Hermitage, is located in St. Petersburg and it’s very amazing. There are many monuments and historical buildings here; the city is situated on a river and can boast beautiful nature. City life here is quite intense, full of young energy, and, if you have free time, there are plenty of opportunities to fill your nights and weekends. I’ve heard that this is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and now that I’ve seen it, I’m not surprised that people say that.

My experience as an international student has overall been positive. I live in a dorm with many foreign students from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. There is a multicultural environment there. Sometimes we cook something together and learn about each other’s cultures and languages. We have been teaching each other little things, like how to say “hello” or “how are you” in each other’s languages. Socializing with international students turned out to be yet another advantage, because this way I managed to improve my skills in different languages.

In the end, my advice for prospective students is this: “IT’s MOre than university. It is wiser to find out than to suppose.”