Saturday, July 11, 2015

Russia - From My Point of View

       It was a winter night of December 2014 when I told my mom that I would be going to Russia to pursue my PhD, and she asked "Are you crazy"? I replied "No, I am not and I know what I am doing and where I am going". She was visibly upset on hearing about my plans but I managed to convince her and she warily asked me to go ahead with my plans. It was the start! I had heard a lot of negatives about Russia, and the war but I knew non of those were even remotely true and I felt absolutely safe even before moving to Russia. I was all decked up and excited and most importantly I was going to pursue my dream, a dream that I had almost given up once. I also knew that the language of instruction would be Russian and that it wouldn't be easy to learn a new language however, I was determined to over come any challenges, and in fact I took this problem as an opportunity to learn new language and enhance my skills in the field of linguistics. Surprisingly, the Russian language has a lot of words similar to Hindi and Sanskrit, probably borrowed from these languages many years ago. 

      One of the things that has always exasperated me is that a lot of people have a wrong notion about Russia, falsely believing that it is a hostile country or jump to the conclusion without even doing some basic research to find the facts. One such example was one of my relatives who told me some 'horror' stories about Russia and asked me to cancel my trip. With all due respect for his concern about me, Russia was quite inhospitable back in the early 90s however, it is probably the safest country now and of course, extremely friendly. I don't think there is any other country which is so open and friendly to foreigners, especially from India and specially compared with some 'English speaking developed' nations. Upon landing in Moscow, I knew I was in an amazing country!

 The Education System

       The reasons Indian students abnegate from heading to Russia for higher education/research degree are the language barrier, lack of opportunities, and the other reason, as mentioned above, is safety. The latter is just in the minds of the people because Russia would take care of you like you were its citizen, and of course, there is no discrimination whatsoever, and certainly no racial discrimination at all. Sadly, I had experienced racism in India because of my accent but in Russia, I everyday look forward to meet new people, and my friends who are always excited to meet me, too. And if you don't mind learning a new foreign language (Russian) then look no beyond Russia! And as far as opportunities are concerned, Russia offers a lot of opportunities in numerous fields than any other developed nations combined.

     The Russian education system and standards are on par with the international standards, and some Russian universities are amongst the best. The Udmurt State University in Izhevsk, for example, is one of the top classical universities in Russia and has everything that an international university has to offer. The research facilities, the professors, the support staff are amazingly helpful. For me Russia is new the USA, or UK. A lot of students from Asia, especially India, head west for better opportunities and earnings but I guess it's time to look north! 

       Izhevsk, the capital of Udmurt Republic, is located along the Izh river in the Western Urals. Although the city is small as compared with Moscow or Kazan, but it is one of the most beautiful and well organized cities. One of the best things about the city is its people, they are extremely wonderful, very helpful and are always welcoming no matter where you come from.

The Udmurt Republic 

     I had not heard about the Udmurt Republic or Izhevsk before applying to this university, and the only cities I knew were Moscow and St. Petersburg and when I heard about this city (Izhevsk), I had no clue about the pronunciation, tried all possible ways to pronounce the name of the city right but couldn't  until I landed here. One of the first things that comes to our mind when we hear about Izhevsk is the AK 47 automatic rifle as Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of this weapon, was born and raised in Izhevsk. With the population of about 650,000, Izhevsk is the capital and the biggest city of Udmurt Republic. Between 1984 and 1987, the city was called Ustinov, named after the late defense minister Dmitri Ustinov.

     This is one of the most beautiful places in Russia and I feel happy and excited to be here and many thanks to the people of Izhevsk for allowing me to be associated with their culture.

Я люблю Россию! 
Following are some of the pictures from Russia:
The Udmurt State University
The City of Izhevsk
Izhevsk, Udmurt Republic
The Holi celebration in Izhevsk
Sunset over Izh Pond
A Street of Izhevsk with a Tram
Another Sunset
International Moscow Business Centre
The Kremlin and Moscow river