Curry and Computer Science: Indian Students Come to ITMO

Discovering the best vegetarian food in the city, studying computer science by day and enjoying the architecture by night, communicating with the locals via Google translate, treating their neighbours to Indian food, cheering for the Russian team at the World Cup, our new students from Parul University in India have had a few weeks of adventure at ITMO University.

After a fruitful meeting with Parul University’s Rector in late February, the first group of Computer Science Bachelor’s students came to ITMO for six weeks to get some extra credits in computer science. Having just finished their second and third year, these eight students were keen to get a leg up over their peers by getting involved in international academic mobility. They came to ITMO accompanied by their professor, Ankit Chouhan.

If you’re planning to come to Russia, I’d suggest you live in St. Petersburg. It’s a very beautiful city and the culture is very good. If you want to do a PhD, I’d suggest ITMO,” said Brij Patel.

Brij Patel. Credit: Stepan Ozornin
Brij Patel. Credit: Stepan Ozornin

Parul University is located in Vadodara and is considered the cultural capital of Gujarat, their state. The university boasts well over 27,000 students, and 150+ courses in a range of subjects, so when the students are preparing for getting jobs after graduation, the competition is high. International experience is well-regarded, and the extra knowledge, particularly in “trending subjects” will go a long way, they explained. At ITMO University, they’ve been studying software engineering, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. They also jumped on the chance to learn a new computer science language, Prolog.

Part of the experience has been observing interesting differences between the Indian and Russian universities. For example, their university has a campus setup, whereas ITMO is organized in different buildings around the city, so you have to travel quite a distance between them. Also, in India the semesters are organized differently: from July to December is first semester, and January to May is second semester. So they are using their month off to study at ITMO.

The work culture and study culture that we experience in our lectures are awesome, we have very interactive sessions. Education here is systematic, so for Master’s or PhD, it would be good to come here,” Sharon Majumdar.

Indian students host a special "Indian night" for students and staff with delicious curry and dhal.
Indian students host a special "Indian night" for students and staff with delicious curry and dhal.

Being a vegetarian has been a fun quest and the group has been keen on seeking out vegetarian cafes around the city. Since they’re all vegetarian and also don’t eat eggs, they brought a lot of supplies with them from home: frozen food, packet noodles, curry and vegetables, a lot of “just add water” supplies. Although now that they know what is and isn’t available in Russia, they hope to prepare a list for future Indian students about what they should bring with them. Indian restaurants in St. Petersburg offer a relatively authentic fare, they said, but not spicy enough. So they cook their own delicious, and plenty spicy, food and share with other international students at their dorm.

In front of St. Petersburg's tallest building. Credit: Stepan Ozornin
In front of St. Petersburg's tallest building. Credit: Stepan Ozornin

What do people in India think about Russia? Most people in India think about the beauty of Russia, Russian dolls, and chocolates. When they told their families they were heading to Russia they were really pleased for them, everyone feels Russia is a very safe country, but they know it’s cold! So the first thing they did was give them two or three jackets.  

You need to learn some basic words in Russian before coming, so it’ll help you to communicate here. The environment here is good, it’s a good location for further studies,” said Vivek Patel.

With their "buddies" in front of St. Petersburg Stadium. Credit: Stepan Ozornin
With their "buddies" in front of St. Petersburg Stadium. Credit: Stepan Ozornin

The timing of their visit couldn’t be better as the World Cup is on during their time here. Since India hasn’t made it in the Cup, they’ve been supporting Russia! At the fan zone, the Russians around them were so happy to see them cheering for Russia that they shook their hands and thanked them for their support!

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