What an Indian student thinks about Russia
Ujaval Roy came from colorful Mumbai to severe St. Petersburg almost five years ago. According to the young man, this step was due to the fact that in India, foreign education is valued much higher than local. And knowledge of the Russian language can help build a career in the oil and gas industry virtually anywhere in the world.
At school age, the young man could not even imagine that he would live in Russia. But nowadays, he studies at Mining University, has a passion for sandwiches with baloney and thinks in Russian.
“As long as I remember myself, I always wanted to become an engineer. Since grades 3-4, I used to read through encyclopedias that describe scientific experiments. At first, these were quite primitive editions, designed for children who were keen on research. We had a competition in our school named “Show and tell!” in the framework of which anyone could make a presentation. I took part in this event every year and tortured the audience with my experiments! At high school, I was engaged in modeling: I built buildings and settlements, and connected the models to power which literally revived them. Light came on in the windows, street and traffic lights began to work,” recalls Ujaval.
He studied at an “ordinary comprehensive school;” however, the key question is, what kind of school. India is a country of contrasts, where the division into castes in an abridged form exists to this day, and luxury sides with poverty. For example, one of the world largest private residential buildings is located in Mumbai. This is the 27-story Antilia building that businessman Mukesh Ambani has built for his family members and servants. In the meantime, a densely populated slum area is just a few blocks away.
The country has both public and private schools. Free secondary education is guaranteed to everyone with no exception. Each working citizen is charged a special tax of 3%, which goes to the construction of new and the maintenance of existing schools. However, such educational institutions are designed for children from poor families, and the level of education in them is pretty low. The children study literally on the floor, sitting on rugs, or even in the yard on the ground, and write, crouching over their copy books. However, more than half of all youth are educated at private schools. Even trivial fee-paying schools in terms of equipment and program would surpass the state ones. Students have access to computer classes, sections and hobby groups, sometimes even a pool and a gym. The cost not necessarily is too high: it ranges from 3,000 rupees per year to 15,000 rupees per month. The lower bar is quite affordable for low-income families.
“India has adopted a lot from its former colonialists. For example, the most popular sports in our country are cricket and football. The official language of the government is Hindi, but secondary and higher education is conducted in English. Almost all textbooks and books are written in it. Considering that there are more than 1,500 dialects in the country, and each state speaks its own language, this is our salvation,” Ujaval pointed out.
After graduation from school, the young man decided to cultivate his interest in engineering. Today, against the backdrop of economic growth, technical universities are becoming increasingly popular in the state. While there are quite a few universities in the country, its population is growing rapidly: over the past 20 years, it has increased by 300 million. And though India’s territory is more than 5 times smaller than Russia’s, the number of people living in it is 9 times higher.
“The competition for best schools and universities, and then for decent jobs, is extremely high. For example, 10 million people apply to the Indian Institute of Technology for its 11 thousand budget-sponsored places. We put great emphasis on education: the better it is, the more chances there are to take strong positions in society. With higher education, especially foreign, it will be much easier to outperform competitors on the labor market. We do not spend time traveling after school, as it is customary in the U.S. or Europe. Therefore, I passed all the entrance exams at once to several local universities. But my parents suggested trying to also do it abroad. Their friend studied at St. Petersburg Mining University and was so impressed with the level of training that he advised highly recommended it. Just imagine, following his convincing recommendations, 4 Indians have previously entered this university. They have already completed their education; three of them returned to work at home, one received an offer from Rosneft and moved to Krasnoyarsk,” said the student.
Today in India, they do not perceive our country as an exporter of higher education. The only exception is medicine. When friends and acquaintances find out where he is studying, they initially think that he is going to become a doctor.
Already at the preparatory course, compulsory for all foreign students, where they, in particular, comprehend the “great and mighty”, the young man was captured by the matter of well drilling.
“This is a very cool area, where geology and metallurgy, mining and chemistry are simultaneously engaged. Work requires one hundred percent involvement in the process. You need to constantly think about how to increase extraction efficiency. Believe me, this is incredibly interesting! You might laugh, but I feel the same inspiration as in childhood when I conducted experiments in the 4th grade; of course, now it is at a new level. The issue of country to work in in the future, be it here, or in my homeland, in Canada, Australia or Norway, is not critical for me. In any case, knowledge of the Russian language is a great advantage for specialists in the mining sector. Russia is one of the leaders in the oil and gas market. Leading commodity corporations around the world are collaborating with Russian partners, and an engineer who knows Russian will have priority,” the Indian student is sure.
If Ujaval decides to live in his country in the future, ONGC Company is, by his words, one of the potential employers, which controls the entire oil and gas industry in the state. The young man is sure that the degree of Mining University will be a great help for him.
ONGC is the largest state-owned raw materials corporation in India. Back in 2001, it acquired a 20% stake in the Sakhalin-1 project. And in 2016, it bought 26% of the shares of Vankorneft JSC, a Rosneft's subsidiary, which is developing the Vankor field in the Krasnoyarsk Krai. These steps are aimed at reducing dependence on hydrocarbon supplies from Venezuela and the Gulf countries.
India has practically no specialized educational institutions. Technical universities are aimed at training specialists for a wide range of industries. Therefore, among the advantages of studying at Mining University, the young man singles out its thematic focusing.
Another difference is that the number of students in groups is several times smaller than in India. This directly affects the share of attention that a teacher can pay to each student.
Today, Ujaval, having lived in Russia for almost five years, very well remembers the difficulties he faced in the first year after his arrival. This is the consistently gloomy and rainy weather; lack of spicy food; low levels of English among the local population and cold winters. Initially, he was surprised to see in the summer Petersburgers wearing just shirts that at only +18 degrees. In Mumbai, even in winter, the temperature does not drop below +23-24 degrees. Of course, these factors did not disappear later on, but the young man stopped comparing St. Petersburg with life at home and adapted pretty soon.
This does not stop him from missing his culture as a whole: bright clothes, spicy food, generously sprinkled with seasonings, emotional people. The Indians are very friendly with their neighbors: not only on the floor, but also those who live higher or lower. The young man recalls a large number of holidays in his country with nostalgia: at least 3 days a month are festive. These include state and religious celebrations, and goes for all religions spread in the country.
Ujaval shortlisted top 5 places that he fell in love with in St. Petersburg:
“Not far from the dormitory of Mining University where I live, there is a sandy beach in the Gulf of Finland. From there, an excellent view of the entire water area opens and you can enjoy the sunsets. It reminds me of my homeland! Then I really like the Field of Mars and its atmosphere. I advise all tourists to rent bicycles and ride through the night city until morning. My lifetime memory will always be a trip out of town: tall pines, Copper Lake and a bonfire. But the best impressions you can obtain visiting Russian friends at a family lunch or dinner. This will provide you with the strongest emotions!”