Tomsk through the eyes of an international student: Why a student from Indonesia chose to study ecology

Hallo from Indonesia! In a new segment of our series "Tomsk through the eyes of an international student", Archangela Reza Serafine, a second-year student at the Biological Institute of TSU, tells us why she decided to become an ecologist instead of a doctor or an architect.

Archangela Reza Serafine

I always dreamed of being a doctor, so after school I wanted to enroll in the medical faculty in Indonesia. Unfortunately, there is a lot of competition for public universities, and despite the fact that I had been preparing for admission since high school, my grades were not good enough to be admitted for a state-funded place. Moreover, studying on a fee-paying basis is very expensive, so I had to choose other specialties. I considered architecture, because I like drawing, and pharmacy, because it is related to the health care. Nevertheless, studying these specialties is expensive too. Therefore, I decided to enroll in the Faculty of Marine Science at one of the famous universities in Indonesia.

Then one of my brothers, who studied in Tomsk, suggested that I try to apply for a Russian scholarship. At first, I did not take this seriously, but I wanted to study abroad since my childhood, and I managed to enroll in the Biological Institute of Tomsk State University. When my parents found out that I was going to study so far away, they said: “If you want to go, then go. We will do our best for your comfortable living there.”

I chose to study ecology because there are not many people studying it in Indonesia, and there are not so many ecologists here. I find it strange because environmental issues are one of the most important things for everyone who lives in this world. I love nature, and it is my friend. I like traveling, going to the mountains, to the forest or to the beach. The world around us is constantly changing and there are new challenges arising every day, but not every person realizes it. If we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy nature in the future, we need to care for it.

I chose TSU because of Siberia and its diverse and untouched nature. There is no point to studying ecology in Moscow, in a city filled with many skyscrapers and cars. It provides fewer opportunities for practice.

Archangel Reza in TSU's University Grove

The weather is always hot in Indonesia, and it is around +32°C degrees right now. I saw snow for the first time in my life from an airplane when I arrived in Tomsk. It was amazing! It was in December, but at that time I did not even have a jacket, as I had not bought one yet (because there is no need for such clothes in my country). I knew it was "eternal winter" in Siberia, and it really turned out to be very cold. But sometimes I like to get cranky and not wear a warm hat or gloves, and I was often ill because of it. Please do not repeat my mistakes, it is bad for your health.

I like living in Tomsk because I do not really like big cities. I cannot focus on my studies when there are many people around. Tomsk is a small city with beautiful architecture. I especially like Lenin Avenue; there are many interesting old buildings there. I think Tomsk has become my second home over this time. I came here when I was 18 and had lived with my family all the years before that. Here I had to learn to do everything on my own. Sometimes parents are overprotective, but there is no one you can ask in another country, and you are responsible for your own actions. This is a new and unusual experience, and it is interesting for me.

I had 15 subjects in my first semester, and it was very difficult. I cried every time I took exams or pass-fail tests for all these subjects. I called my family, my mom, my dad, and my brother and told them that I did not want to stay here and wished to go back home. Then my brother said: “Try to study here for one year. If you can pass all the exams now, then you will be able to handle it in the future.” After that year at the faculty and the summer internship, I realized that I could handle it.

I have some advice for those who want to study in a new country and in an unfamiliar language environment. You do not have to be very smart, but it is important to be mentally strong. Your psychological health is very important. Several of my friends who studied in Russia dropped out of university because of the stress and returned home. I do not want something similar to happen to other international students. Many universities provide a good education, and you do not always need to move abroad to become a professional in your field. You should understand that studying abroad would not be easy. It all depends on you! If you really want it, you can handle it.

The material and photos were made by Elvira Trushina, from TSU Multimedia Center