Sunday, September 27, 2009
Back to school: 1 （Why in Kaliningrad?）
My university building in the city centre of Kaliningrad, next to the Victory Square. The mini bus from my flat stops right beside the university.
The bookstore is just around the corner.
If I walk to the right from my university, I will be welcomed by a sea of flowers next to the junction.
A building next to my university. I always wait for the mini bus opposite this building.
Victory Square of Kaliningrad City.
The Cathedral in Victory Square.
My university is situated right in the city centre, which is on the left side of the picture. Any further from here, I will be lured into the shopping malls and the Central Market!
Yes, I made it on the 8th September. Telling people that you have a dream sounds silly, but see what this has done to me.
Welcome to the Foreign Students Department.
This is where I am now, the university was founded in 1962.
Repeat after me, this is the full name of my university: Фгоу Впо Калининградский Государственный Технический Университет.
Making It Happen.
I started studying Russian language with a teacher, Katya, who comes from Mosocw and still live in Singapore. (http://www.russian.sg/ Over 24 months, due to our busy schedules, we only manage to have about 80 hours of lesson, sometimes weekly, at times monthly.
I toyed the idea of pursuing further every now and then, but gave up the idea when some preliminary search indicated rather high school fees and living expenses in Moscow or Saint Petersburg. And the idea of living in a smaller city, which translate to manageable cost, did not occur to me yet.
Seeking her advice, she introduced a private Russian school in Kaliningrad, however if you look at the fees they are asking, all quoted in Euros instead of roubles, it is way beyond my means. Hence I started to look for universities in the same city, and try to understand how the education system works. And I was glad that I did, the fees in universities in Russia vary and its affordable in Kaliningrad. This was after comparing with one of the most prestigious university in Sibera and another one in the Far East. They all replied me promptly and efficiently with clear instructions. All these happened last year.
This May, I finally decided to come to Kaliningrad and started writing to the university again. The Dean of Foreign Students Department was most helpful and made the whole process a breeze. He welcomed me in his email that they were most happy to see me soon. By August, everything was ready, and on September 8, I was finally enrolled into the Kaliningrad State Technical University Russian Language course.
This is how the story goes, before that I have started to make some Russian friends online to enquire about Kaliningrad. I received very encouraging remarks, and I am happy that I chose where I am now. I am happy with my Russian teacher too.
We continue from where I stopped with Katya in Singapore, with the same set of text book and exercise book! I am grateful to Katya who made this transition seamless.
Before that who would have heard of the state of Kaliningrad from Singapore? I was told that a Moscovite did not hear of Kaliningrad until she was fifteen and that was in Geography class.
A Parisian friend whom I know here, who had studied in Beijing and London already has long-term plans in Kaliningrad. It has gigantic malls just like what you see in any major city, but yet they conserved their historical relics in a dignified manner. The city planners are generous in allocating space for the parks too. People here, are like anyone else in the world, flooded by consumerism but yet they are not in too much of a hurry to help a foreigner.
However I still could not comprehend why there is no MacDonald's in Kaliningrad. I miss my hotcakes and hashbrown. But I was told that the closest one from Kaliningrad is in Warsaw, Poland and so is Ikea. Finally I found out that MacDonald's was closed down two years ago as they refused to succumb to the mafias in Kaliningrad.
At long last, I made it. Thank you everyone along the way who helped or encouraged me to make this path possible.