Students talk: Common myths about studying in Russia

Why are many students pursuing their studies in Russia? Why would it be a worthwhile choice for your future, too? 

ITMO University in Saint Petersburg offers a strong educational foundation in a cultural hub worth exploring. Who says cold weather or a new culture should stop you from building your future?

Recently Russia is gaining its popularity among international students. However, still existing stereotypes about this country sometimes affect prospective students’ perception of it. But what do the actual students think about those myths? To find out, let’s ask the students of ITMO University, a top Russian institution in IT and Advanced Technology, which is always open to talented people from all over the world. 

MYTH 1. There’s no way you can survive the Russian winter

Jorge Medina, Colombia, Information Security Master’s student

Jorge Medina, Colombia, Information Security Master’s student
Photo: Jorge Medina

“My first impressions of Russia were the cold, because I came in winter. But I loved this city and since I like photography, this city is wonderful for taking pictures, every season of the year feels new. Now I think that Russia was the best option I could take, as both the quality of education and my experience in Russia so far have been excellent.”

MYTH 2. Russian people are too serious and never smile

Alexia Vanmalder, Belgium, Foreign Languages intern

Alexia Vanmalder, Belgium, Foreign Languages intern
Photo: Alexia Vanmalder

“This is not big news, but people often think Russians are cold, introverted and unsympathetic people. I wish they’d realize how wrong they are. At first glance, it’s clear that it can be confusing when they don’t smile back at you, but when you get to know them and their perspective on life, you see that Russians are incredibly endearing people.” 

MYTH 3. You must speak Russian to get along with locals

Angelo, Mateus, Yan, Thales and Caio, Exchange Students, Brazil

Angelo, Mateus, Yan, Thales and Caio, Exchange Students, Brazil
Photo: Angelo, Mateus, Yan, Thales and Caio

“Not everyone speaks English here, but even if they don’t, they still try to help you with gestures and using Google Translate. When I go to cafes, a lot of the waitresses try to teach me Russian. When I order something, I usually ask them to teach me how to say it in Russian, and they try to help me, and they’re really happy to teach me. People are really helpful here.”

MYTH 4. You will feel lonely and lost in a new country

Julianne Gomez, Cuba, Technological Innovations Management Bachelor’s student

“No university in Russia offers its students all the possibilities and facilities that ITMO does. The university constantly organizes countless activities which take us out of the student routine and give us the strength to continue.

I am currently working with the university’s international office. I make videos and interviews with our international and Russian students. We are a young, cheerful, and responsible small team. I feel happy here.”

Photo: Julianne Gomez

Myth 5. Russian education system is too traditional

Jose David Ortiz, Colombia, Computer Systems and Technologies Bachelor’s student

“What surprised me most about ITMO is how they do things differently than in the systematic traditional education. Their methodology and young teachers, and the fresh and impressive amounts of knowledge are something that I never have seen anywhere else.

It was one of the biggest decisions in my life, and I would never regret it. I totally recommend taking the risk – everyone should get out of their bubble and explore the world! I started in Russia, an amazing country that has provided me education, experiences, knowledge, and self-development like nowhere else. Russia is more than vodka and bears. As a fellow student, I invite you to take that big leap.”

Photo: Jose David Ortiz

Curious to learn more about ITMO university and student life in Russia? Attend a live webinar on March 3 at 19:00 (Moscow time).

You’ll learn about:

  1. The admission process
  2. Adaptation support for international students
  3. Living in St. Petersburg, Russia: living expenses, accommodation, and culture
  4. And more!

Register now!

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