Student’s life:

Tyler Kirk, USA, Arizona State University

”I came to Syktyvkar State University during the 2016-17 academic year to conduct research for my doctoral dissertation about former Gulag prisoners in the Komi Republic.

My wife and I were really appreciateive of the warmth and kindness of all of our Russian friends in Syktyvkar who made the long, bitterly cold winter welcoming. Some of our happiest memories include skiing through the forrest, spending time at the table with colleagues and friends, and enjoying cultural events such as Asia Kya concerts.

I recommend to everyone going to Syktyvkar State University to be open to new experiences and acquaintances. Over the course of my research year at SGU, I learned a lot from the archives and museums I researched in but also from members of my host community, who shared their knowledge of my research topic and their passion for their culture.”

John Kabengele, Zambia, Arkhangelsk State Univeristy

Russian government has established several agreements with African countries which enable African students to apply for studies in Russia. The agreement includes scholarships for which students can apply. This made it possible for John to apply for studies in Russia. As for the reasons, why he choose to apply to Russia, he mentions: ”I read about education system and the literacy level (in Russia) and it made me interested to come to Russia”.

After getting through with the scholarship application and interviews, he got to located to Syktyvkar for Russian language studies and Arkhangelsk for his medicine studies. ”In the beginning the language studies were not easy”, John says, as he had zero background in Russian language before coming to Syktyvkar. However, he adds that thanks to the ”very good teachers” he had he was able to quickly learn the basics of Russian language. Now John is in the first year of his medicine studies in Arkhangelsk. The medicine studies are entirely in Russian and as the studies progress, there is a constant flow of new scientific vocabulary. Nevertheless, John notes, that given the good base for Russian language he received in Syktyvkar, he is able to absorb the new vocabulary.

Moving to another country is often regarded as a thrill, although coming to a new culture requires adaptation as well. John recalls that several everyday habits are different in Russia and in his home country. For example, in Russia the small conversational courties, such as ”Sir” and ”Madam”, are expressed by calling the interlocutor by his or her first name combined with the patronymic name. Moreover, in Russia shaking hands among men is common, but less so between the sexes. For countries that are nearly 9,000 kilometers apart from each other, the differences in culture, climate and geography are evident. However, in spite of the cold winter in North West Russia, John is positive about his stay in Russia: ”It is like a living in a different world and everything around you is new — I loved the experience”.

Panu Heikkinen, Finland, University of Helsinki, Intern at SyktSu International Office

Russia and its culture has always interested me greatly. I speak some Russian, yet, Russia was very much unexplored for me. I thought an internship in Russia would give me a great place to look at the Russian culture, all while I would gain more international worki experience. When I was looking at my options for an internship in Russia, I was intriguied by the opportunity to work at a university, and Syktyvkar’s continential location away from the large cities striked me as fascinating. After little research about the city and the republic I was convinced to apply for an internship in Syktyvkar.

It has been extremely educating and mind-opening experience. Russian people are very hospitable and friendly. That has made my adaptation to the new enviroment smooth. The working language at our office is Russian and I have worked mainly as a translator, so its been a great language exercise for me. Moreover, from my perspective Russians are very sociable and inclusive. There has not been lack of invitations to various freetime social events, which as a foreigner I”m very grateful. During my time here I have learned that Russians certainly know how to relax and have fun.

One of the most memorable moments was in February during ”Maslenitsa”. The main square of city was the center of this celebration. On the square there was approximately 25 meter pole and a line of people, who wanted to climb the pole. The successful climbers won prizes, such as washing machines and TVs. The thing was that it was minus 25 celsius and the surface of the pole was made smooth and slippery – and the contesters had to climb the pole almost butt naked. To me the scene appeared as if it could have been a scene for a public punisment. I thougth it was hilarious.