Success Stories

Connor Dautel and Daniel Kuntz
  • One of the summer modules in the Russian language and culture was completed at the Higher School of International Educational Programs. Its participants were 17 students from the Georgia Institute of Technology, U.S. The month-long educational module presumed daily classes in the Russian language with division of students in three groups of different levels of complexity and a joint course in the culture of present-day Russia.  For the full immersion in the environment, the students were living not in the dormitory but in Russian families. Interaction with teachers, members of the hosting families, and each other in Russian was an important precondition of the program.  The outcomes are quite impressive:  practically all participants of the Summer School noted significantly improvement of their language skills. Connor Dautel and Daniel Kuntz, students of the Georgia Institute of Technology shared with the SPbPU International Services their impressions about their life in Russia and special features of the educational process. Read more …

    - Connor, Daniel, we are glad to see you! Could you please tell us about the interesting things that have happened this month? Did you enjoy living in Russia?  

    Connor: This really was an unbelievable experience. Up until now, getting out of my apartment, I keep thinking, “Could it be that I really am in Russia? I could never have expected that I would have such an opportunity!” It was rather worried to leave my country for so long and to go so far away, but when the hosting family greeted me with such warmth, all my scares and concerns just went away. I liked living and studying here, while constant communication with my new acquaintances and intensive studies gave me perfect language training. This month has practically changed my life, and for the better, of course.  

    Daniel: Living in Russia, I was feeling myself at home. We sometimes speak Russian at home because my mother and grandmother are Russian. My major goals for this month were to learn more about special features of the Russian language and improve my command of Russian.  And I am fully satisfied with the results. Speaking of living in Russia, I completely agree with Connor: this month gave me absolutely unique experience which I am very thankful for.

    - Were there any moments that surprised you or seemed quite unusual?

    Connor: I guess this was food. I know there are restaurants of Russian cuisine in America, but I have never been to any of those. Here I’ve tried many new dishes. Luckily, the taste of most of them I liked.

    Daniel: I would have never expected that Moscow would impress me more than St. Petersburg. Everybody keeps saying that St. Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia, its cultural center; no doubt, its architecture and its style are magnificent. However, the spirit of Moscow is much closer to me: it reminded me of New York where I am from.

    - But there are lots of interesting things in St. Petersburg, aren’t they?

    Connor: Absolutely! I had been walking around the city for hours, scrutinizing the places of interest and trying to get the most of this month in Russia. St. Petersburg brings together unique things: the ancientness, culture, and modern trends. I fell in love with the heart of your city: Nevski Avenue.   

    Daniel: I would like to add that I very much enjoyed public transportation. The transportation network in St. Petersburg is very well developed: you can quickly get to any place in the city and, what is essential, it isn’t expensive. As far as tourist attractions are concerned, my strongest impression was Palace Square.  

    - And what would you advise to visit other foreign students coming to St. Petersburg?

    Connor: First of all, I would recommend to start with the traditional tourist route: the Hermitage, Russian Museum, a trip to Peterhof. However, I have also liked less popular places, often known only to the locals.  For example, you can find lots of cafés, restaurants, and shops in Sredni Avenue of Basil Island (Vasileostrovskaya metro station), which is a lot less crowded as compared to Nevski.

    Daniel: I agree that not to visit the major city attractions would have been a huge mistake. But after you will have got more or less acquainted with the city, make sure to ask local residents about other places of interest. For instance, I was advised to visit the flea market in Udelnaya; as it turned out, it belongs to the top ten flea markets in the world, right along with the markets of Tokyo, Paris, London, and Amsterdam.  

    - Would you advise tourists and foreign students to learn a little bit of Russian before coming to Russia?

    Connor: Of course I would advise to learn the basics of the Russian language; however, to a big extent it depends on the region you are going to. Notably, it would be a lot easier for English-speaking tourists to get around in St. Petersburg rather than in Moscow: this city has mush more signs and directions in English.  

    Daniel: If you are planning to stay in Russia for a longer period, than you should better learn at least the basics of Russian. Otherwise, you will have to stay in the center of St. Petersburg where there always are lots of tourists (laughing).

    - Did you have any communication problems during this month in Russia?

    Connor: My problem was my limited word stock; some things were difficult to understand. In particular, this concerned conversational phrases and terminology. However, people were always trying to help me, and, what I am especially thankful for, were patiently waiting until I would formulate my sentence in Russian without “switching” into English.  

    Daniel: I had no communication problems whatsoever; the difficulties I had were caused only by my knowledge of the Russian language. I was afraid to say something wrong, to make a mistake in a word or a sentence. However, it is important to understand that mistakes are a part of the educational process, and no progress is possible without them. Teachers’ assistance and support were helping us to move forward.  

    - Please tell us what would you remember in the intensive course on the Russian language most of all?

    Connor: Class studies in my group were primarily focused on syntax and grammar, usage of verbs in particular. This was very useful and helpful.

    Daniel: I would like to single out the lessons in which we discussed the events that were taking place in present Russia. It was very interesting to hear a variety of opinions and ideas.

    - In your opinion, how much have you improved your knowledge of Russian?

    Connor: I am now speaking Russian a lot more confidently. Back home, I will continue my intensive language practice. Thanks to the International Polytechnic Summer School, I could see the issues I should be working on to improve my Russian.

    Daniel: I was very glad to take part in the intensive Russian language course, and I would be happy to speak Russian with my relatives. And, of course, I would love to come back to Russia not once.

    - Would you advise your fellow students to take part in the International Polytechnic Summer School?

    Connor: Absolutely! I would recommend anybody interested in getting to a new level of Russian language command to take part in this intensive program.

    Daniel: I absolutely agree!

    Connor, Daniel, thank you so much for your interesting interview! We wish you all the success in learning the Russian language!

Connor Dautel and Daniel Kuntz, U.S. students took an intensive course of the Russian language within the frame of the International Polytechnic Summer School
Arina VOLKOVA (Russia), Christophe CLARET (Germany) and Vahab HASIRI (Iran)
  • It is really difficult to define a moment when students' startups in the modern educational system stopped being associated with something new and unusual. Even more, ideas to make startup equivalent to traditional graduate thesis are discussed at government level, and as everything new they have their pros and cons.

    Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University is 'on trend': the University encourages students' startups, and business-ideas of young scientists are supported by Business incubator 'Polytechnic'.

    During the previous academic year Polytechnic students took part in various ambitious projects: unique discussion platform Foresight Fleet 2017, final of the track TechNet - the largest start-up accelerator GenerationS in Russia and Eastern Europe, world competition for young entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, etc.

    Short-term programs of SPbPU also correspond with the modern trends. For example, under the educational module 'Global Entrepreneurship: Design Thinking and Start-Ups', of International Polytechnic Summer School, which took part in September, 2017, the students presented their own startups at the end of their studying. Arina VOLKOVA (Russia), Christophe CLARET (Germany) and Vahab HASIRI (Iran) after the end of the program shared their impressions. They are sure: the knowledge and experience they had during the Summer school will definitely be useful for their future life. Read more …

    Arina and Christoph worked in a team where also were students from France, Italy and China

    'On a one hand, we knew plenty useful information and learnt a lot, on the other hand, there was lots of fun, - says Christoph, - we created our tool from scratch: brainstormed everything, made researches, developed business-ideas and presented out product to the audience.

    Arina's and Christopsh's team was thinking about daily problems.

    'We came to the solution that when you are in a rush, you have a problem that if you drink coffee, or eat something you can muck your clothes. So we invented a tool that can clean your clothes in any situation', - says Arina.

    Their team invented a portable cleaner. This gadget is no bigger than a smartphone, and contains both iron and cleaning substance. You can carry it in your bag, and it won't take much space – the inventors assure. The group had to do a lot: they defined a target audience (businessmen with every minute planned with precision), discussed the details with engineers (they confirmed that this product implementation was possible), planned a budget, presented ideas of market promotion of a product. And, of course, the students defined and analyzed the main competitors. A similar device exists in the real market, but the group met those portable iron with a critical eye. 'You can only iron your cellar or cuffs with this gadget. Of course, it is better than nothing, but our tool is able to iron the whole shirt or trousers, and its price would be really low', - says Arina.

    In Vahab's team there were students from Russia, France, Germany and China

    In Vahab's team there were students from Russia, France, Germany and China. All of the students were interested in sport. On a final presentation they presented a special bandage, which could protect sportsmen from injuries and even replace the necessity of doing some medical operations.

    'We are seriously keen on this device, that is why I cannot describe the entire idea: we have all the chances to implement it in a real market, - says Vahab, - the diversity of cultures created amazing working atmosphere. I was very glad to meet people from different countries, to have a teamwork with them, to create a business project together. That is one of the biggest advantages of such educational programs: people learn to understand each other, respect the opinions of each other, and listen to each other. I am grateful to International Polytechnic Summer School for such an opportunity, and without any hesitation will recommend it to my friends and acquaintances'.

    A combination of science and art paves the way for new creative and brave ideas, which have all the chances to be successfully implemented. The examples of students who had not only presented their projects, but also had proved their right to exist, show once again, that there is no harm in dreaming, but there is a lot of harm in inactivity. As an ancient Roman writer and scholar Pliny the Elder told: 'How many things, too, are looked upon as quite impossible until they have actually been effected?'

Arina VOLKOVA (Russia), Christophe CLARET (Germany) and Vahab HASIRI (Iran), Believe in Startups: SPbPU Students Told About Their Projects