Making the Most of Your Student Life

As September rolls around, school and university students all over Russia start a new academic year. What is student life like? Some say that it’s the best years of their life, others just want to graduate and move on. But no matter how you feel about your studies, September 1 is always about new beginnings and a fresh start. On this occasion, members of ITMO University’s staff share their advice on how to enjoy your student years.

Enjoy the festivities

Evgeny Raskin, Head of ITMO’s Youth Policy Office: You can always tell when it is September 1. Walking on the street, you can hear school songs playing everywhere. These are traditional celebratory assemblies, usually held outside. You’ll probably bump into lots of kids with flowers, especially first-graders. It’s a very special day for them. For first-year students, this day marks the beginning of an “adult life”, especially for those who came to St. Petersburg from other Russian cities.

Evgeny Raskin
Evgeny Raskin

Be yourself

Yulia Ryabukhina, Head of the Foreign Languages Department: The 1st of September is a perfect day for everyone to think of life as learning and of learning as life. Learning is an ongoing process of trial and error that brings the ultimate joy of discovery and accomplishment. The beginning of an academic year is a perfect time for everyone – students and teachers, faculty and staff – to realize that we all want to be a first-rate version of ourselves rather than a second-rate version of somebody else. So go ahead and enjoy!

Yulia Ryabukhina
Yulia Ryabukhina

Test your limits

Polina Petrusha, Head of Internationalization Office: Student life is a period of breaking time limits and unlocking an endless source of personal energy. Students are able to pack into one day all their studies, work, volunteering, and parties. A mere 2 hours of sleep recharges their inner battery to 100%. It is the best time to test any (legal) opportunity. New projects, whether you know what to do or not, new people, no matter how strange they are, new skills, the more unusual the better, new territories, geographical, scientific or communicative – try them all or pick and choose. It is time to discover your limits and, finally, understand that they just do not exist.

Polina Petrusha
Polina Petrusha

Gain new experiences

Anna Huddleston, Editor of ITMO’s English News Portal: Some of my favorite memories from student years are of working as a guide to St. Petersburg for foreign tourists. There’s nothing like climbing up to the colonnade of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in the middle of winter and then taking them to warm up with a glass of tea and a doughnut at your favorite hole in the wall. Commitment to giving them a quality experience and sincere interest in sharing the love for our city also landed me my real first job, translating for CEOs at a bra factory. I would have never guessed that I’d be working in a place like that but it basically served as a springboard to my career in modeling communications.

Anna Huddleston
Anna Huddleston

Balance work and play

Anastasia Krasilnikova, Translator, Internationalization Office: There’s a great Russian saying that “students have fun when there’s no exam”. This basically was my university motto. I just procrastinated during the study semester and then survived on coffee trying to cram stuff in my head when exams came. Can’t say it wasn’t fun while it lasted, although I wouldn’t quite recommend this lifestyle to freshers. So my advice for first-year students would be to strike the perfect balance between work and play. After all, they don’t give you all the museums and cinema discounts for no reason, right? Use them wisely and have fun, but don’t forget to hit the books before it’s too late (as I did). Also, go easy on coffee, it can really backfire. Take it from a person who nearly zoned off during a crucial exam (thank heavens the person beside me was sneezing their head off). But most importantly, have a great time and try to enjoy life as much as you can!

Anastasia Krasilnikova
Anastasia Krasilnikova

Learn, think, travel

Anastasiia Labunskaia, Translator, Internationalization Office: When I was in high school, my parents would tell me that university is the best time of your life and that I’d miss being a student when it was over. I didn’t really believe them. Now that I’ve finished my Master’s degree, I realize that they were right. I feel both happy and nostalgic and I know that I’m going to miss my university years.

I’ll miss sitting in a lecture hall struggling to understand what the Triangle of Reference or a semantic frame could possibly mean. Or only pretending to understand: “Derrida’s deconstruction? Oh, it’s such a profound concept that had a major impact on the development of the linguistic theory.” I’ll miss my fellow students and the sense of camaraderie when we did our homework together or ran to the cafeteria after classes. I’ll miss the feeling of my brain bursting with new knowledge (yeah, I was a bit of a study nerd). I’ll miss getting discounts with my student card and waiting for the start of a new semester. It was a wonderful and very personal journey for me. So I advise you to make the best of it: learn, think, travel, and have fun.

Anastasiia Labunskaia
Anastasiia Labunskaia

Take every opportunity

Maryam Reyhani, Specialist, Internationalization Department: I loved my time at university. I realized early on that it wasn't so important what I was studying, but who I was studying with and the environment I was in. Everyone had a thirst for knowledge, a new-found independence, an absurd amount of free time, and a desire to take every opportunity that came their way. It’s this crazy place where you’re surrounded by so many new people your own age, many with similar interests. It’s the place where you make friendships for life, where you make memories which you will look back on fondly once you enter the big wide world of life after university.

Maria Khuzina and Maryam Reyhani
Maria Khuzina and Maryam Reyhani

Be brave and have fun

Maria Khuzina, Deputy Head of Internationalization Office: All of us have different expectations for student life. Some can’t wait for parties and around-the-clock fun, others just want to learn and learn, and then learn a little bit more. (I think I wanted all of it and nothing at all at the same time). Of course, reality bites all our bright dreams and hopes. Studying isn’t easy even for those in love with books and their majors, and parties always end and leave us with a headache and exams that rapidly come up. But that's exactly what makes student life so terrific – it’s the school of life. All by yourself, you can do whatever you like – study, not take your eyes off the abstracts, or have a fun day and night. Find your ways with different people, open new doors, fight your fears (and be ready to lose sometimes). You can be the best student of the year, you can lead a student club – or you can dump all exams, go on to a “real adult life” and find a job. You can do all of it, can’t you? It’s all up to you, it’s all real – and waiting for you. Be brave and have fun (and take care of yourself)!

To learn more about the perks of student life in Russia and ITMO, read our articles on the cool discounts your student card gives you access to, and our tips on how to spend your free time.

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