What surprises our foreign students in Syktyvkar stores?

Now about 150 foreign students study at our University. Verbum launches a permanent column “Exchange students”, where we will talk about the life of foreign students, their taste preferences and national dishes. The first topic for discussion is food. Our correspondent talked to students from different countries and looked into their food basket.

Over the last academic year, the number of foreign students at the Syktyvkar State University has doubled compared to 2015 – now there are 142 of them. 97% of students came to Syktyvkar from the former Soviet Union. This is not surprising, because all foreigners, one way or another, are studying in the “great and mighty” Russian language. In addition, we have students from Germany, interns from Finland and the United States, and since the fall there were five guys from South Africa.

Many of them are studying not the first year, so the foreigners were in our country. For example, at first, some Muslim girls were embarrassed when boys came to visit their neighbors in the room. You can understand them – many foreign students culture is radically different from ours. But there are other stories: before you move into the room, the boys from Kyrgyzstan took all the things and furniture in the corridor., the governor of the dormitory who was interested in what is happening received the following answer: “First you need to clean the walls and windows, and only then to bring the furniture.” According to neighbors, the Kyrgyz’s room is so clean that many people wear white socks.

Over time, foreign students stopped celebrating their national holidays and began to cooperate with our students, joining the mixed companies. It suggests that we are doing well with multiculturalism. Any student can learn something new about another country from the resident of this country, ask about the traditions and try the national food.

Marius Lenk
Germany, Limburg
Institute of Humanities, journalism, 2nd year

About sanctions: I love to cook. Many products had to be forgotten because of the sanctions, but they are easy to find a replacement, for example, I really like your “Russian” cheese.

About shops: in Germany I have a car, I used to come to the supermarket and buy food for the week ahead. Here it is different: most often I go to the “Pyaterochka”, but there is not always possible to find what I need, so for some products I have to walk to the “Lenta”. By the way, there are a lot of different gingerbread with condensed milk inside in Syktyvkar stores. We can only buy them on Christmas.

About vegetables: I noticed that many vegetables are not cleared of the soil in Syktyvkar stores. I told about it my relatives: someone thought that it is impossible to verify — is it a good product. My great-grandmother said that he would like to buy such a product, she said that you had known that it recently pulled out of the ground.

About the features: I was surprised that the packaging of goods specified different volume. In Germany, all packages have a single volume, for example, exactly one liter of milk. In Russia, the package can be 0.9 liters.

About bread and prices: in Germany I bought bread in a private bakery. The price of such a large bread, which is baked by hand (it lasts a long time, plus the taste is very different), will be 350 rubles. It may seem that it is very expensive, but our salaries are several times higher. But a small bunch of greens is very expensive here.

Unusual product: Carbonated drink “Kolokolchik”. It has unusual taste. We don’t have that in Germany. It’s a great idea for business.

National currency: Euro

Nuri Ashimbekova
Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek city
Institute of Humanities, advertising and public relations, 2nd year

About winter: Kyrgyzstan is not too different from Russia. The only difference is winter: if we have it in Bishkek for only two months, here it lasts about five, so you wait for spring for a long time.

About product: My friends and me do not have enough of the Kyrgyz fruit and vegetables: they taste better or something, probably because growing at home, and without the addition of various chemicals. We also do not have enough meat and meat delicacies, dried fruits and national drinks. For me it is not particularly noticeable, except for bread. At home we bake it ourselves, I loved my mother’s bread, and my own too. Here I buy bread in the store and noticed that I eat it much less, not as in Bishkek, but the black bread is very tasty here.

About holidays: Several times a year we gather together in a small company in the dormitory and prepare national dishes, for example, «manti». They are very similar to «khinkali». Soon, on the holiday of Nooruz, which will be in the spring, we will organize a concert and prepare many different dishes from our national cuisine: pastries, desserts, main dishes, snacks.

About prices: if you count, the average for one day I spend about 300 rubles, and in a month the food goes to 5-6 thousand.

Unusual product: the store is not particularly surprised. But a classmate told me that you eat the raw deer meat. It is highly frozen and thinly sliced. I am not a fan of meat, I eat meat rarely and little, so when she said about this, I was very surprised.

National currency: Kyrgyz som

Philip Mulenga
Zambia, Lusaka city

Listener of the program “Russian as a foreign language»

About shops: Usually I prepare a salad of boiled potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onions and tomatoes. From the shops I go to “Maxi” and “Pyaterochka”, because there are good prices corresponding to the quality, and a large selection of products that I would like to try.

About prices: Most of the money goes to, so to speak, “priority food”: rice and chicken. From the store I am getting large packages of products, which then I eat within one month. Approximately I spend about 3-4 thousand rubles. It does not include the money which I spent on snacks in the “Pyaterochka” after the study.

About the price difference: in Syktyvkar I easily find everything I need, and I can also save on products. They are very cheap compared to Zambia. For example, for $1 in Russia I can buy quite a lot, but in my country this money will be enough for only one loaf of bread.

About ourselves and others: Sometimes my friends and I are preparing sweet rolls and Zambian meals, such as, flites (ball-shaped doughnuts). Recently I tried to cook mashed potatoes, and next weekend I’m going to try the dumplings. I look forward to it!

Unusual product: I Want to try boiled condensed milk. I buy regular condensed milk almost every day. I love condensed milk.

National currency: Zambian Kwacha

Nuria Saidrahmonova
Tajikistan, Pamir city
Institute of management and entrepreneurship, management and entrepreneurship, 4th year

About dreams: since childhood I had a dream to study abroad, to find new friends from different countries. I’ve been living here for four years.

About the differences: Tajikistan is very different from Russia – it is a completely different culture and mentality. I constantly learn something new about Russia: for example, recently I have heard that when it is very cold in winter, in Syktyvkar you can meet a bear in the city. But with food there is almost no difference. I’m not surprised at your dumplings, Russian salad, herring under a «fur coat»-all this we also have. Like everyone, we have our own national food: shiroi (from the Taj. Shir – “milk”, Choi — “tea”), which we usually drink in the morning, manti, pilaf, samosa and more.

About products: All the necessary products are in the store. Usually I go to the “Magnit”, “Quinto”, sometimes in “Pyaterochka”. Prices here are much higher than we have in Tajikistan.

About prices: Average food spend about 100-150 rubles a day. 3 thousand is enough for the whole month.

Unusual product: you can easily find mushrooms in any store. In Tajikistan, they are rarely used, and it is almost in every pizza.

National currency: Somoni.

This academic year 142 foreign students study at the Syktyvkar State University.
Besides that, 5 students from Zambia are not students, but trainee on «Russian as a foreign language» course.
This academic year, the University interns citizens of Finland and the United States — 2 people.

Countries: Germany (exchange students from the University of Heilbronn only 4 people: 2 have already graduated, 2 will come), Finland – 1, USA – 1, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Zambia (5).

Thus, the countries of the former Soviet Union — 97% of all foreign students. It is not surprising because all foreigners study in Russian language.

Dmitriy Stepanovskiy, photos by Vyacheslav Turubanov and publication’s heroes