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  • Three years ago, when my son Shantanu was interviewed by
    one of his friends for an online publication (cant remember which one though). He sent me the link and I found it recently whilst going through some of my files. Here it is:

    Russia is an unconventional study abroad destination. Medical student Shantanu Shekhar narrates his Russian campus experiences to Mithila Mehta

    In a scenario where the United States, Europe and now Australia or Singapore are considered the conventional destinations to study abroad, this gutsy student has taken the road less travelled. 20 year-old Shantanu Shekhar is pursuing his higher education in Russia.
    Offbeat choice
    Shekhar is currently studying General Medicine (equivalent to MBBS degree in India) at the Ryazan State IP Pavlov Medical University, located in the college town of Ryazan. Why did Shekhar opt for this offbeat location? “To be honest, I did not get into a great college in India. I thought it is better to opt for a great college abroad than an average college within the country. My university is well known for its medical programme. The course is also shorter and better than the United States,” he explains.
    Course outline
    Explains Shekhar, “General Medicine Faculty study at the University is for six years. The first three years include basic subjects such as Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, Biological Chemistry and Histology. During the forth and the fifth years students learn the special subjects, for example: Pathological Anatomy, Pathological Physiology, Pharmacology, etc. The sixth year is dedicated to the in-depth study of internal diseases, surgical diseases, Obstetrics and Gynecology. “Every year includes tremendous practical work in the curriculum to know better the medical practice,” says Shekhar.
    Academic approach
    The Russian education system is quite different from that of India. “We have tests practically every single day to keep us constantly on our toes. Also, we study different subjects everyday rather than all the subjects everyday,” explains Shekhar. Students are also expected to be proactive by doing their own research and studying even outside the classroom. “There is really no spoon feeding. If you have a problem or difficulty, it is expected that you do some groundwork yourself before approaching the professor,” explains Shekhar.
    Campus capers
    Russia is very different from India, and the countries students are usually exposed to as tourists. Things work differently, mindsets and attitudes are different. It can all be summed up in one line: 'Эта Россия' which means ‘That’s Russia.’
    “The college has many people from all over the globe which makes it quite a melting pot. The medium of instruction in class in English, so that is not a problem. However, sometimes it does become difficult to communicate with the locals. Occasionally, official documents are written in Russian and there is no translated copy available,” reveals Shekhar. The biting cold also becomes an issue, especially for this Mumbai boy used to the sweltering tropical weather. “Ultimately, as the globe is rapidly becoming one, it is important that students consider educational avenues outside the regular options,” signs off Shekhar.

    That's Shantanu with the red T-shirt that says, "My brother is a brat," - in Russian.
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