You’ve probably already heard about the numerous international opportunities ITMO provides: you can go abroad for a week or a year; stay in St. Petersburg and enroll in a Master’s program conducted in English or take a class with exchange students from all over the world, and so on. But why is it so important? Why not just stay local?
Ekaterina Tulugurova, the head of the International Educational Programs Department, tells us: “Spending a part of your studies immersed into a different academic culture and mentality is very exciting. You’ll make new friends from around the world and get to know other cultures and traditions, enriching the university experience in many ways. It also gives students a fresh push towards taking responsibility for their educational path as well as their personal development. All that on top of tailoring their academic tracks to their specific needs.”
She also adds that it’s a great way to introduce yourself to the broader international context of education around the world. So if you are already inspired to try it all, read on!
Every September and February, ITMO receives applications for semester exchange from Bachelor’s and Master’s students. Participants can choose from over 80 partner universities in 19 countries – here’s the current list of eligible universities.
To learn all about the application process and selection criteria, check this step-by-step guide.
Yuliia Shick is a staff member of ITMO’s International Educational Programs Office – and she’s also an ITMO graduate who went on exchange four times! She offers her extensive knowledge to help other ITMO students who are dreaming to go abroad.
“During my last exchange in France, my host university offered me an internship, so I was lucky to work at the International Office of the University of Lorraine,” shares Yuliia. “There, I learned how they work with students and got a lot of insights. Overall, my professional life abroad was interesting and energizing. Now I know how business works in Finland, Poland, the Czech Republic, and France, and it really came in handy in my studies back in Russia. I even managed to apply this experience in my thesis.”
“Another important thing this experience gave me was the motivation to start something new. Once you’ve graduated, you have to have some hobbies and manage your free time. For example, I’m still learning French with a tutor and I really enjoy it,” she adds.
Even the pandemic can’t put academic mobility on hold: thanks to online education, students can attend classes at top universities around the world without crossing any borders. Natalia Borodovitsyna, a fourth-year Bachelor’s student at the Faculty of Software Engineering and Computer Systems, knows this first-hand, as she completed one of her exchange semesters online and another on-site, in the Czech Republic and Turkey respectively. She told us how her experience turned out to be life-changing.
“It’s hard to estimate the impact of these exchange semesters on my life and studies because it’s so huge and it feels like one of the no-return points in my life. First of all, the educational systems and approaches are absolutely different in the Czech Republic and Turkey, and also they both differ from Russia. It broadened my knowledge because I got acquainted with new schools and styles of design in IT. Moreover, these semesters helped me to expand my portfolio and establish a lot of professional international connections,” says Natalia. “And, of course, this experience influenced my life, too: it gave me incredible feelings, inspiration, and a lot of memories. Probably, the most essential discovery was about myself: I’m stronger than I expected,” she adds.
Another ITMO graduate, Mussa Nurishev, describes his time spent abroad with the quote “c’était trop beau pour être vrai” (“it was too good to be true”) and encourages other students to take this adventure with an open mind.
“I always say that an academic exchange is never a bad experience. I have done it three times and each of them was unique. Life is about quality, so why not add some? And for those who have already made their decision, my advice is don’t try to predict everything! That's exactly what happened to me in France, and it was good; who knew I would be invited to a French wedding in Lyon. Having a plan is good, but you have to accept the fact that you can't plan out every detail. Take it with a beginner’s attitude. This means openness, eagerness, and a lack of preconceptions when you get to know another culture and lifestyle,” explains Musa.
Study abroad at home
For those who want to prepare themselves for an exchange and have a more international experience without leaving ITMO, this is another exciting option to consider. Study Abroad at Home is a unique program conducted fully in English that offers practice-oriented courses for local and international exchange students. Students can apply for this program each January and August.
In this program, students can take broader subjects such as Intercultural Communication, Project Management, Strategic Innovations Management, Technology Entrepreneurship, Digital Marketing, and Sustainable Cities Development together with international students who have come to ITMO for an exchange semester.
Sofia Tamarova, a first-year Master’s student at the Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations who took a course in Innovative Economy last year, shares her impression of this program.
“I was interested [in Study Abroad at Home] because it’s a big opportunity to study in English and meet new people from all over the world. It’s not only about practice and knowledge but also about the community,” she says.
Sofia also highlighted three things she got out of the course:
“Firstly, it’s very important to be attentive towards each other. Secondly, our communication with people from different countries can change the world – it can develop us, our technologies, and everything. And finally, subjects in English are more interesting: they are about concentration and attention.”
Short-term educational events
Interested in short-term events abroad? Anytime! ITMO supports its students’ desire to participate in online and offline schools, seminars, championships, and research internships. The good news is that the university can reimburse up to 70% of your expenses. The competition for reimbursement is available all year long, but your application must be submitted well in advance of the event.
Learn more about the competition and its requirements here.
During her studies at the Information Technologies and Programming Faculty, Alfiia Shakhmameteva took part in a summer school held by Maastricht University (the Netherlands).
“It was not my first time participating in an international summer school, but the first time when it was online. I like the short-term format: it allows you to not only learn about a certain field but also increase your level of expertise and get into more details,” shares Alfiia. “The advantage of the online format is that there is no need to travel in order to take part in a, say, Dutch school – you can do so from the comfort of your home. Plus, you don’t have to spend money on traveling and getting a visa,” she adds.
ITMO alumni Roman Evstigneev, who spent ten days at a winter school on international business at the Czech Republic's largest private university, points out a discrete advantage of short-term events.
“On the whole, some 50 students participated in the school, half of them being from China. I was really glad to be the only person who spoke Russian, as I had no chance but to practice my English. This has been a great experience, because when people go on an exchange program, there's always some Russian-speaking community, and you risk spending all your time with them instead of socializing with the international crowd,” he says.
These are not the only international experiences you can get as an ITMO student: you can also consider applying for an international Master’s program at ITMO – conducted fully in English – or choose a double-degree program to spend a year at another university!
Remember! If you want to brush up on your English, you can always take a special English course with us.