Ricardo Rodriguez: How to combine studies, work and travel
A student from El Salvador Ricardo Rodriguez is completing his bachelor's degree studies at Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University this year. One of Ricardo's talents is his ability to combine university studies, work in an IT company and travel in Russia. In an interview to the International Service of Polytech, Ricardo spoke about adapting to Russian climate, shared his plans for the future, and gave encouraging advice to other foreign students.
- Ricardo, where do you come from? How long have you been living in Petersburg?
- I come fr om El Salvador. It is a small country in Central America. I have been living in St. Petersburg for four years. Of course, everything here is different from my home country - people, food, atmosphere.
- Has life and studies in St. Petersburg met your expectations in general?
- I was a little worried about the language barrier. We also have a lot of stereotypes that Russian people are a little crazy and don't talk to foreigners unless they speak Russian. I expected it to be difficult to adapt, but in reality it wasn’t that hard. Many people speak English at the university, and there are many other foreign students. And you won't be left on the street without help, either.
- Have there been situations when it was really difficult?
- My first winter in Russia was really hard. I come from a hot country with a tropical climate. The lowest air temperature I’d experienced before arriving in Russia was somewhat around +10℃. And here I saw falling snow for the first time! And I realized what -20℃ actually is, which, according to the application on the smartphone, ‘feels like -30℃’. It's insanely cold!
- As far as we know, you study in an international group. What countries are your fellow-students from?
- There are about ten foreign students in my group. They come from Colombia, Mexico, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and South Africa.
- Have you managed to visit many places during your stay here?
- Yes, I travel a lot. I travelled to Karelia and visited the Ruskeala mountain park. I went to Murmansk to see the northern lights. Once I went to Kaliningrad. It was a unique experience, I saw a city that is dramatically different from other places in Russia. I was in Moscow and Kazan. In the near future I plan to go to Lake Baikal, I hope to fulfill my dream in March.
- Ricardo, have you made friends in Russia during this time?
- Yes, I have several Russian friends. I had the opportunity to get a job and we became friends with some of the colleagues. Some of them are from Moscow, others are from St. Petersburg. We keep in touch.
- Have you got any useful experience while studying in Russia?
- Here, in Russia, I’ve met many people from other countries, made new acquaintances and friends. Your academics teach really exciting classes. Some professors love to debate with students, which is great! That’s how you can express yourself, rather than sit and read from the presentation slides. I’ve learned a lot in practical classes and, as I said, I use this knowledge in my work.
- What would you wish to other students who are thinking about studying abroad?
- The advice I’d give them is “Do not be afraid”. Don't be afraid of the challenges you face after the decisions you make. Many of the factors in choosing the country wh ere you’re going to study can be decisive - culture, people, and even local food. I found people who support me here in Russia. So when you've made up your mind, just go ahead and do it. If you choose Russia, it will be great. In any case, you will grow, both as a personality and a professional.
The interview was prepared by the International Service of SPbPU