Interviews with Russian students on life in Russia #1

Interviews with Russian students on life in Russia #1
08 July 2020

To learn out about life in Russia, why not talk to the people who know it best? So here is the first of a series called Interview with Russian students. We will start with Maria, who lives in Saint Petersburg.

1 What do you study and at which university?

I’m studying at Baltic State Technical University named after D. F. Ustinov «VOENMEH» (ВОЕНМЕХ). My specialization is Translation and Translation Theory.

2 What is it like to a student? Describe how the university system is like and how students spend their time? 

Being a student is cool, I guess. At least I like it more than being in school haha!

The university system in Russia is different from the European one. First of all, we have not only Bachelors (4 years) and Masters (2 years), but also so-called “Specialists”, to whom I belong. Specialists (5 years) equal Masters in terms of knowledge. Secondly, we cannot choose or change our schedule, so we are obliged to obey the Dean’s office that makes the schedule for all students. Lastly, some of us don’t have to pay for university education, so we can study for free.

Students spend their time doing a lot of homework. In Russia, we have tons of (sometimes useless) homework. However, for those who have free time, our university offers extra courses and activities like poetry contests or climbing competitions.

3 What are some things about university life here that may surprise foreigners?

Well, probably the university dormitories, if you want to be surprised in a bad way! Because the accommodations are terrifying: poor supply system, no proper security, creepy neighbours. No joke, that is a terrible place. That’s why almost all students try to earn some money to be able to rent a room or a flat.

However, there is something about our university life that can pleasantly surprise foreigners. For example, a lot of universities are located in amazing historical buildings. Most of those buildings are part of our cultural heritage and they are unbelievably stunning.

In addition, there is a military faculty for boys only in almost every university. If you are attending this faculty, you don’t have to join the army after you finish university. In Russia, all men up to 27 years old must do military service.

What’s more, almost all the universities have some sort of student support and they can help us to find a job according to our specialisation in the summer or help you to take part in exchange programmes abroad.

4 What is unique and interesting about life in your city? Include your own anecdotes if you like.

I believe the whole city is unique! No wonder our city is called the Northern Venice! Saint Petersburg is one of the most incredible cities I’ve ever seen in my life. My favourite places are cafes with open-air terraces in the very centre. I bet I can spend the whole day sitting there with a cup of cappuccino and admiring the views of the busy streets.

As I’m working at a travel agency, a lot of foreigners told me that Saint Petersburg is the most beautiful city they have visited. Sometimes they don’t understand what building they see in front of them. Once, when I was meeting some fellows from Germany, we were driving and they saw a long and colourful building. They asked me if this building is the Saint Petersburg city stadium where the national Russian football team plays its matches, but that building was just a fancy shopping mall (see below), so they were surprised. I believe this story shows how unexpectedly unusual and luxurious Saint Petersburg is.

5 Do you have friends who do not live in Petersburg/Moscow? Tell us how similar or different it is for young people living in the provinces. 

I have friends from Izhevsk and Novosibirsk. All they have ever told me: life in their hometowns is not good. There are fewer opportunities to get a good education and job. That is why they decided to study in Saint Petersburg and both of them are planning to move here after their education.

Note: all opinions in the “Interview with Russian students” series are expressed not by Liden & Denz, but by the person interviewed. 

Nick Nguyen

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