Myth #1. The local diet is centered around meat! I won’t find plant-based food and will have to cook everything myself

While a kotleta is a common item in cafes and pelmeni are staples even of local fast food, options extend far beyond that! Right at ITMO, cafeterias on the Kronverksky and Chaikovskogo campuses offer special plant-based menus with various dishes, and other campuses are on their way to join them. 

Outside the university, vegan culture thrives in St. Petersburg – from street food spots to restaurants. Coffee shops are well-versed in alternative milk options, so if you prefer coconut milk in your cappuccino, the barista can easily fulfil your request! If you prefer preparing meals at home, there are vegan and healthy food shops, where you can find anything from soy meat to authentic spices for dishes that taste like home. 

Myth #2. I won’t be able to handle the climate; winter is freezing here and it’s always rainy and cloudy in St. Petersburg

It’s common for students who have never experienced our style of winter – with snowfalls, icicles, and negative temperatures – to perceive it as a challenge for the first time. Of course, it's essential to pay more attention to your health and diet, and check yourself for vitamin deficiencies, because the cold is always accompanied by a lack of sunlight.

Many international students admit to underestimating the need for proper winter gear at first, so stocking up an overcoat, hat, and gloves in advance is half the battle. Being fully prepared opens the door to wonderful activities, from winter sports to New Year celebrations. 

In defense of St. Petersburg, you can expect mild weather from April to October. Enduring the challenging seasons will be rewarded with an amazing summer featuring its famous White Nights.

Myth #3. Russian language is very hard to learn and is almost impossible to master 

There are a lot of aspects that leave the heads of Russian learners spinning – cases, perfect and imperfect forms of verbs, the letter “ы”… The good news is that at ITMO, you are never left to tackle it alone!

If your dream program is taught in Russian, the university offers you an opportunity to spend an academic year at the Foundation Program, focusing on your language skills before starting your learning journey. After nine months, the graduates generally acquire a solid B1 level, which is sufficient for future studies and daily communication. Additionally, Russian language courses are included in the curriculum to support students throughout their degrees. For more language exposure in a comfortable environment, you are welcome to participate in weekly meetings of the Russian Speaking Club. All of that, along with a combination of practice and motivation, will lead you to success, as experienced by our international students.

And we’ve lost count of how many handy articles we've written about various aspects of the Russian language at ITMO.NEWS, check them out via this tag!

Credit: ITMO.NEWS 

Credit: ITMO.NEWS 

Myth #4. Students are always broke and the cost of living is high in St. Petersburg

If we take food, accommodation, and transport as the three major expense items, consider the two last options taken care of by ITMO. Most international students are offered placings in comfortable dormitories for a monthly fee starting at just 1,163 rubles. Additionally, students in St. Petersburg benefit from a special travel card, BSK, which covers both metro and ground transport. This card, available to students of higher education institutions in St. Petersburg, is the most affordable way of using public transport throughout the city. In addition, Russian Railways provides a 50% student discount on suburban train tickets.

The city’s museums, restaurants, cafes, and many other businesses offer student discounts, some of them exclusively for ITMO students.

Besides, there are many kinds of stipends at ITMO. You can win one for excelling in your studies or taking part in various activities at the university, just choose one that fits you most from the list.

Myth #5. I’ll feel lonely as it’s hard to make real friends in a new country

It’s more than fine to allow yourself time to adapt and acknowledge you are feeling like a fish out of water. You're not alone in experiencing these emotions as an international student and even this fact can help you make new bonds. During your first days in St. Petersburg, the ITMO Buddy System will assist you in adjusting. You're not limited to interactions in your classroom. Being a student is an excellent opportunity to level up in the areas of your interest and meet like-minded people. For that, ITMO has about 100 student clubs, specializing in all kinds of activities from sports to beatboxing. 

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