ASU student from Syria shared his impressions of life in Barnaul

31 January 2018 Department of Information and Media Communications
Altapress information portal published an article about a student of Altai State University, a native of Syria.

When Ahmed Fwaz, a student from Syria, was about to go to Russia, his friends warned him of a street mafia and offered to go to the gym so that he could protect himself. Ahmed told Altapress why he left Syrian Damascus for a small city in Siberia and what he liked about it.

From Syria to Siberia

– I used to study at Damascus University, where I majored in English literature. But I did not acquire any knowledge there for a year and a half. Due to the fact that there is not a good situation now in Syria and the level of education is low, I decided to go to Russia. I wanted to live in a small city. I found information about Barnaul and Altai State University on the Internet and decided to come. In 2016 I entered a training program on international relations at the Faculty of History. I have not been home for a year, because it's hard and expensive. I have not decided yet what I'll do next. I don’t know if I'll go home or stay here.

About the Russian language

– I had been learning Russian for two months at home. Then I took a one-year preparatory course here, in Barnaul. Now I learn Russian only with the help of communication and friends. It is sometimes difficult to listen to the lectures, as it is difficult to understand some words for me. The lecturers do not always help, because they do not understand that I am a foreigner and it is difficult for me to study here. The first two months upon my arrival were hard: I did not understand anything in Russian. Now, if I do not understand something, my friends help me. I always try to think in Russian. Recently I have had a first dream in Russian, I was very surprised.

About the Russian cuisine

– I liked borsch, and you also have delicious dumplings. We have a lecturer, a very good woman, who always treats me to Russian dishes. They are usually very tasty, but I was not lucky twice: I ate aspic and salo (cured pork fat). I did not like it.

About stereotypes

– I remember sitting with my friends in Syria. They said: “Ahmed, you should start working out. Don’t you know that there is mafia on the streets in Russia?” I laughed. I did not start working out. There are also stereotypes that all people in Russia drink vodka every day, while there are bears right on the streets in Siberia and they play balalaika and also drink vodka. Of course, this is not true.

About the freezing weather

– It's very cold here, but it's even colder in Syria. Here it is warm everywhere – in the hostel, in the university. It's only cold outdoors, while you walk, and it takes ten minutes. In Syria it is cold both at home and outdoors. Heating system doesn’t work all day there, but only for 6 hours.

About people

– In Syria people are very open, while in Barnaul they smile rarely. However, it's better here than in Moscow, where people do not smile at all. When people find out that I'm from Syria, they are very surprised, they start asking about politics, about the weather, about how I live and what I eat.

Damascus vs. Barnaul

– Damascus has a soul. You have a very pleasant and strange feeling when you walk through the old part of the city. I visited the old part of Barnaul. I liked these wooden houses, but it was interesting how people could live there in winter? Then I learned that it's warm inside specifically because they are made of wood. And you get used to other people's food, traditions or culture in the course of time.

About the first impression

– When I arrived, it was interesting to see that women here work everywhere. For example, in stores. In Syria they work only as teachers and doctors.

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