Russia, being the world’s most largest country is well known for its medicine and engineering graduates from all over the world. So if you are planning to study medicine/ engineering, Russia should be the number one country on your list- but that doesn’t stop anyone who wants to study architecture, art, geology, computer science and the list goes on because in the end,
“your marks will do the talking for you”
Get yourself a cup of tea or coffee, which ever you prefer and get reading as Etuhole Vaendwanawa spills the tea.
I’m Etuhole Vaendwanawa, 24 year old 4th year medical student. I’m currently pursuing my studies at Peoples Friendship University of Russia, Moscow. Throughout my high school career medicine wasn’t always my first choice of study, for some reason I always wanted to become an architect. Seeing the need for medical doctors in our country has caused me to develop a desire for becoming a medical doctor, and that is because I would like to see myself in a position of helping others.
International students on campus live in student dorms of different types, some with a more hostel type of setup and others more like shared apartments. The dorms are 200-500 metres away from the academic building, while some courses require travelling further off campus. All buildings on campus have 24/7 security surveillance, so it’s pretty much safe. The price of the rented student accommodation varies per month depending on region, type and location of lodging.
The tuition fee at Russian universities varies from an estimate of USD 1,080-9000 (13 500-112 000 Namibian Dollars) per year depending on the region, university and field of study. The type of funding frequently used by Namibian students here are scholarships, bursaries, loans or personal funding. Students interested in financial support should be on the lookout for funding opportunities from different institutions, such as The Ministry of Health and Social services, The Ministry of education etc.
Students need to submit several documents scanned copies to the University of interest, for consideration of admission, according to their requirements. The following are some of the documents you can put into consideration:
- Questionnaire application form
- Passport, certifying the identity of the student
- Documents certifying achievements, which shall subject for consideration of admission ( recognized in Russian Federation, including translation)
- Medical certificate that proves that student does not carry socially dangerous diseases and no health-related contradictions to study in Russia.
- A valid visa for entry purposes into the country
Pros and Cons:
Well, here is a handy list of pros and cons to help guide you towards a decision that best suits your interest, mainly based on my personal experience over the 4 years I’ve been living here:
Living a new country allowed me to experience a completely different way of living. To be quite honest, I never expected to come across a part of the world, where majority of the people couldn’t speak or understand English. Trying new exotic food, listening to music I’ve never heard before and learning about traditions specific to different countries (not only from the natives, but other foreign students from all over the world). The things I’ve learned will probably stick with me for life, knowing that I’m more knowledgeable and open to different cultures.
Not being under my parents care has taught me to be more responsible knowing that I can’t constantly depend on them whenever I need them. It has also helped me grow as an individual… what better way of becoming a responsible adult than being away from those that you have depended on your whole life.
- New Friends
Studying in a new environment means meeting lots of new people and the opportunity to make new friends is even greater. I forgot to mention that I’m a scholarship student and a couple of us were sent out here as a group, so some of my friends I’ve made on our plane ride here. The bonds that I’ve made are lifelong, being surrounded by the most amazing group of friends has made my student life way easier on this side of the world. I wouldn’t trade my girls for anything!!
- Learning a new language
This has probably been the most challenging thing for me, but the best way to learn a new language is being immersed in it completely. The locals barely speak any English so speaking to them is the best practice you can get, you’ll have no shortage of that. I’ve come across other foreign student that fluently speak the local language and have used it to their advantage in many ways and it will definitely look good on your CV in the long run.
- Holiday destinations
When feeling like not going back home, other places that seemed like a distant dream are just a flight ticket away. All other European countries are much closer, meaning flight tickets are way cheaper than flying from Namibia. First on my list was the United Kingdom, reason being no visa was required for entry into the country. Keep in mind that being a student means saving up for your trips if travelling is one of your interest… then you’ll be good to go.
I have been away from my family before (boarding school), but being in a different country is a whole other scenario. Not being able to pop home for visits during the weekends or spend the holidays being pampered by my parents has definitely affected me and 4 years later I still struggle being away from my loved ones. However, with video calling sites and apps, like Whatsapp and FaceTime has made it much easier to cope today.
Back to being responsible, living costs tend to be higher, especially in the capital city. Budgeting or simply saving up can be a struggle, so you need a lot of discipline to avoid splurging your money on unnecessary expenses. Otherwise you’ll end up calling home for money or borrowing from friends, which can be quite a burden.
“Its true; they have meat in other countries as well, but we all know it’s not the same as it is back home (no biltong or kapana).”
I’ve probably complained about the food here more than anything, with a population of around 144,3 million people and winter that lasts months long, most of the food is either imported or overly processed. Fruits and veggies can last about a week and not longer, that means you have to buy food on a weekly basis.
Last but not least, the never-ending freezing winter days. Winters are long and can be a little harsh, while summers are short and sunny. The lowest temperature experience I can remember was -20 degrees celsius. I can never get used to it, year in year out, it never gets old.
Advantages and Disadvantages of living in Russia:
- One thing I love about the city is how safe it is, you can freely walk around at any hour without the fear of being attacked or robbed. There’s always a police officer/security guard patrolling on the streets, in the metro, at the mall ect. I’m not sure if it’s the same in other cities but I would like to believe it is so.
- Another perk is Moscow doesn’t sleep, especially in summer. Most if not all shops here are open until 10pm and some grocery shops never close, so in case of any shopping emergencies they got you covered.
- As a university student I didn’t expect to get individual attention in class. I was a NUST student once upon a time (Polytechnic at the time) and lecturers only knew our student numbers, but as for here it works a little different. Classes are made up of smaller groups of not more than 30 students, so lecturers know your name and its easier to communicate in case you’re struggling to understand a certain module.
- Language barrier can get in the way… Like I’ve mentioned before, most locals do not speak nor understand English. Some students don’t struggle with this, most courses are strictly offered in Russian and not in English, so it’s obligatory to learn Russian for at least a year before proceeding to first year. As for our university general medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine is offered in both English and Russian, although we have Russian as a module for communication purpose, it’s not as good as Russian medium students. This can also be an obstacle for lecturers regarding giving us the study material we need in detail, that requires us to self-study and try to find extra material from other sources.
- I’m not sure about other courses but foreign medical students do not get enough exposure regarding practical skills and that jots down to having to travel home to gain all the experience we need as future doctors during our holidays (most students have to cover ticket costs individually). Another thing is the type of diseases the patients suffer from here compared to home, there’s a little gap where the focus is more on learning and treating those specific diseases in detail.
We do have a Namibian community. I am not sure about the exact number but we are around 200 or more students at my university.
“Russia” might sound a little scary regarding all the stereotyping, but overall I hope the little I could share from my personal experience is helpful to anyone considering studying not only in Russia, but any other country abroad and all the best with your studies.
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