Nathan Celeste Bounkouta, first-year Master's student at the Institute of International Development and Partnership

The new academic year is about to start and everyone knows that due to the coronavirus, the educational system in all institutions has been modified. In some universities, the courses will only be available online, while in others they will require students to be present in the classroom. But ITMO University offers both options to students to choose by themselves the format of studying: online or face-to-face. It’s amazing! That’s why I like ITMO. They are considerate, unconventional, and always take into account the position of each student. 

This will be my first official academic year in St. Petersburg so I know that it won’t be easy to study in a foreign language, but it will not be impossible either, because I know that with the experience of the university, all the teaching staff and the help of my classmates, I will succeed. I want to make the most of it by making many friends, integrating into the student community, and participating in all the sports and extracurricular activities offered by the university. I’m eager to live an unforgettable adventure in St. Petersburg and in one of the most prestigious universities in the city!

Natalya Tarasova, second-year Bachelor’s student at the Faculty of Software Engineering and Computer Systems

I think that this new academic year at ITMO will be very challenging, but everything I’ll go through will be worth it. The most important thing is getting the knowledge that will be useful for me in all the aspects of my life, not only for working in my field of studies, but in other fields, too. The experience that ITMO will give me is priceless. And, once again, it will be very difficult, because this is a fairly demanding university that seeks the best of each student each year. Despite all this, I’m sure that I’m going to be full of joy and satisfaction, and in the future, when I look back, I’ll remember everything that happened with warmth and gratitude to my teachers and my classmates. 

Credit: Marvin Meyer on Unsplash
Credit: Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Joseph Taylor, teacher at the Foreign Language Training Center

To be honest, I’m excited about this semester. I enjoyed teaching online in the Spring and want to continue improving on the techniques I employed last semester during this academic year. While I do miss the energy of a classroom and seeing colleagues together in one place, I feel that online teaching has given me more opportunity to create the type of classroom that I always strive for: one that is learner-centered. There will definitely be more challenges, especially since there are more questions than answers right now concerning various details, meaning that it is more important than ever for teachers to work together to find solutions to these challenges and not wait for some magic answer to appear. Listening to our students and working closely with them to build our courses will create a better experience for everyone.

My wish then for this semester is for teachers to work together and share ideas, and for students and teachers to work together to create a better learning environment for all. This is difficult to do because it contradicts many of the traditional classroom roles we have grown accustomed to, but the result is beneficial to everyone. A good place to start is communicating openly about expectations and rules, as well as being patient while we navigate challenges together.

Eseniia Novokhatskaia, second-year Master’s student at the Institute of International Development and Partnership

In the previous semester, the new format confused not only us, students, but also our lecturers. That’s why certain organizational problems were unavoidable, but we hope that this time we all are much more prepared for distance learning. Spring semester was quite hard, but on the bright side, it taught us how to overcome obstacles that can appear when you’re studying remotely. Now it feels like we’re ready for new challenges.

Credit: Green Chameleon on Unsplash
Credit: Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Alisa Rodionova, third-year Bachelor’s student at the Faculty of Photonics and Optical Information

It is my third year at ITMO, so I have lots of plans besides my course load. Most of them are bound up with activities at the OLIMP union, an inspiring community of makers, tech lovers, artists, and just passionate people. My primary focus this semester is going to be the work on Do-It-Yourself microcontroller projects, such as phone-controlled IoT lighting for photographers. Moreover, I am going to continue scientific research: I’m working on an optical sensor of angular movement.

Other than that, I plan to contribute to the OLIMP community by helping new people find out about us and integrate them into the club smoothly. I am excited to start a new academic year, meet my friends, colleagues, and mentors offline! Feel free to join us at Olimp Union!

Iskander Garipov, second-year Bachelor’s student at the Faculty of Software Engineering and Computer Systems

My first year of studies was kind of weird. By the time I passed my first exams and got used to the way everything works, it all suddenly changed and I had to go back to my hometown. I felt rather odd, like I never moved to St. Petersburg, just came there on a short trip. After having lived half a year at home again, I felt like returning to St. Petersburg is a level in a videogame you had to restart. You know about what to expect so you just keep following the beaten path in the hope of success. In my second year of studies, I’d like to dive into real student life that passed me by before. Trips, events, parties, and so on… Overall, I’m optimistic about the future!

Credit: Emile Perron on Unsplash
Credit: Emile Perron on Unsplash

Irina Vorontsova, fourth-year Bachelor’s student at the Faculty of Photonics and Optical Information

The coming academic year is going to be a special one for me as I am going to defend my thesis and get a Bachelor’s degree. I don’t have too many worries about it, I’m just excited, as almost three years of intense, productive, and rewarding work at the International Laboratory of Femtosecond Optics and Femtotechnologies armed me with all the knowledge and skills necessary. Scientific life never stops: there are too many new ideas to test, new projects to work on, and new theories to develop.

However weird it may sound, linguistics is another passion of mine. Last year I got a chance to study Swedish right at ITMO University. So, what initially felt like an interesting adventure has now turned into me falling in love with this language, this country, and my dear "svensk familj". I’m waiting for our classes to start again so badly!

Now, days away from the new academic year, I sometimes find myself thinking of how I am going to combine my work, studies, language courses, and sports training, how I will fit it all into just seven days a week and 24 hours a day, leaving some time free for meetings with friends and, simply, rest. I don’t have the answer yet. But what I do know for sure is that I’ll go to the theater once it’s open again!