Choosing between Stellenbosch University (SU) and Ca' Foscari University of Venice in Italy, coming to South Africa was an easy decision for Aleksei Bashlykov. Travelling more than 10 000 kilometres from Moscow to Cape Town, the Russian student opted for the oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch instead of the canals of Venice. The first student from Russia to study at SU, Aleksei says he enjoys being a Matie.
At Stellenbosch University for a semester, the Computer Science student is attending classes in Search and Planning, Concurrent Programming, Computer Vision and Philosophy of Science. He will be at the university until December, on exchange from the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE). HSE is a leading economics and social sciences university in Eastern Europe and ranked as one of Russia's top universities. Its partnership agreement with SU provides mobility opportunities to staff and students from both institutions.
Ending up at the “farthest destination" he has ever been Aleksei says SU was an obvious choice to spend a semester abroad.
“Stellenbosch University offered more interesting courses and I expect to acquire much more experience in South Africa comparing to Italy. I've already travelled a lot around Europe, while it's my first time here in South Africa."
Comparing Stellenbosch, “a very tiny and cosy place" to Moscow, “a huge city," Aleksei says the university and town offers a unique experience.
“First of all, it is the people who live and study here. The thousands of students create a very cool and unique atmosphere. Every day you meet new people, participate in various activities and you never get bored. Student life is very intense here. Secondly, although it is a very international place, people still follow some local traditions. And apparently, one of the most typical things here is to braai every day and every night. Most of the local food contains meat and people consume it in enormous amounts. Of course, talking about food, it's hard not to mention the local wine that makes Stellenbosch famous abroad."
Coming from a university where campus buildings are spread around the city, Aleksei is fascinated by SU's central campus. There is much to love as he lists “big shopping malls, the stadium, cinema and a myriad of restaurants, bars and cafes".
“I really love that everything is located in one place and that you can get everywhere by foot or by bike. Also, I love that it's very much a student town; every second person you meet here is from the University. As a result, there are a lot of activities for students. Something interesting happens literally every day."
Aleksei encourages SU students to apply for mobility opportunities at HSE and says there is a lot to look forward to. “Russia has a long and interesting history and there are a lot of cultural attractions all over the country. Moscow offers great career opportunities and universities provide a decent education."
SU students interested in exchange and winter/summer school opportunities abroad can contact Sarah van der Westhuizen at email@example.com or Bantu Louw at firstname.lastname@example.org