Alexander Arabadjiev, USA
I like to see new places, that's why I came to Russia for an exchange semester
I was born in Bulgaria and when I was 8 years old, my family migrated to the United States. After high school, I decided to move to Germany for my studies, now I speak German fluently. I decided to come to Russia for an exchange semester with the goal of experiencing being to a foreign country again. It’s really interesting going to new places and getting to know the culture and the language. Russia has the perfect combination between something new and a bit of the challenge for me. Since I speak fluent Bulgarian and the language is similar to Russian, I can dive right into the courses of my choice, which are taught in Russian, without any problems understanding them.
I specifically asked my university’s international department about exchange programs in Russia and got a choice between St. Petersburg and Tomsk. I was glad to choose St. Petersburg as I had heard it’s a beautiful city with a lot of culture and history. The city is far more beautiful than I could have imagined. I’ve been impressed by how polite everyone is and how clean things are. I’ve been told it’s not like that everywhere, especially in smaller cities.There are some differences in the educationsystem here than in Germany. In Germany you can choose when to take which course and your undergraduate degree can take as long as you need, while here you’re lead down a specific path with courses taken in a very specific order. On the other hand, when you study here, you are also offered general courses like history, philosophy, sports and languages, while in Germany you are only offered the specific subjects of your field of study. I’ve also been amazed during the lectures by how fast Russians can write. They take notes during the lecture very quickly since the lectures mostly consist of the professor speaking with little or no presentational materials. I’m still catching up. There are also some things I didn’t expect here. I am staying in the dorms and they have closing hours between 12 am and 7 am which keep me from seeing any nightlife. But I still manage to make it work sometimes.