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The Faculty of Computer Science was created with the goal of becoming one of the world’s leading faculties for developers and researchers in data analysis, machine learning, big data, theoretical computer science, bioinformatics, system and software engineering, system programming, and distributed computing. In cooperation with major companies like Yandex, Sberbank, SAS, Samsung, 1C, and many others, the Faculty provides both deep theoretical knowledge and hands-on practical experience in many branches of contemporary computer science.
Kamila Usmanova, a second-year master's student in Data Science, is studying in Germany on an academic mobility programme. We talked to her about the challenges of mobility, new experiences, and the interaction of cultures.
Enrollment and studies
I've always been interested in website development, frontend and backend, and that's what I wanted to try my hand at. It wasn't the math that fascinated me, but the ability to program, and to create something that people could use. I was also interested in developments in artificial intelligence.
When I was finishing my undergraduate degree in Mathematical and Computer Modelling in Kazakhstan, I already intended to enrol in a master's programme and was looking for one abroad. I saw an advertisement for the HSE University on an education abroad website, looked at the programmes and became interested in two of them, Data Science and System and Software Engineering. I didn't get into the latter but enrolled on the former instead.
Data Science is one of the vibrant and most amazing fields nowadays. I don't regret at all that I enrolled here. I gained knowledge and experience, great friends and, most importantly, great opportunities. At HSE University, I did research under Professor Dmitry Ignatov in the Laboratory for Models and Methods of Computational Pragmatics. Professor Ignatov is also the academic supervisor of my thesis, which I will defend in November. The thesis is related to multimodal clusters, which are used in many areas of research. The datasets we used were related to advertising and medical data. Our algorithm counts the objects in the dataset and allocates them into clusters, which we then analyse and interpret.
After a year at HSE University, I decided to try and apply for the mobility. I had always been interested in this opportunity, and I asked many students about their experiences; they advised me to go, telling me how cool it was. I am subscribed to the Telegram channel on IT mobility; there I looked for mobility opportunities, participated in the presentations given by Faculty. And finally, I decided to go on mobility in my final year, in my final semester, when I had to defend my thesis and pass my exams.
Now I am in Germany at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt. I have already taken almost all my exams my mobility lasts until the end of September. It seems that I did not choose Würzburg, but rather it chose me. I applied for several programmes in Belgium, Germany, and Finland. Somewhere I was rejected, somewhere I was not accepted because of the coronavirus, and the only university that accepted me was Würzburg. The university also nominated me for an Erasmus+ scholarship, which I am now receiving.
I really like the university; it is conveniently located, very contemporary and forward-looking. I didn't visit the campus for the whole semester because of the coronavirus. All the classes were online, and it was a bit inconvenient I wasn't fully immersed in the study environment. However, the subjects were interesting, the lecturers are tactful, reasonable, trying to explain and show everything as much as possible and help if there are any problems. Now we are in the exam period. We have to submit the projects. In my master's programme, I had more data science, and here, more computer science, which means that I am more involved in the development here. During this whole period, I was developing a web application for anonymous voting. After participating in this development, I have gained a lot of new knowledge and mastered tools I hadn't worked with before. I might even be able to publish the results.
Getting to Germany was not easy: my passport was about to expire and there was a risk that the exchange programme would be shortened. I had to run between Kazakhstan and German embassies, but in the end, I was given a new passport and was able to leave in peace.
It seemed to me that here, in Germany, I have a busy student life. Despite the pandemic, a lot of students have decided to take a risk and come here from different countries - there are a lot of Spaniards, Italians, some students from Taiwan and Vietnam. In general, they all are friendly and sociable, and thanks to that I have improved my English and become more confident in speaking it. There are regular activities, hikes, grill parties. I have made new friends here. At first, I was shy and thought that we were all from different cultures, we wouldn't understand each other. But it turned out that all the guys are quite sensible, open and communicative. I liked it very much!
A bit about myself
I'm into social dancing, always ready for a party or salsatheque. I like volleyball, running, I try to stick to a healthy lifestyle. I read books on psychology and fiction.
I am currently in an active job search, looking for a job in the industry that will allow me to gain new knowledge and experience.
Advice to future participants
No need to be afraid, no need to think that you might not be accepted; you just have to do it, no matter what. Once you go, you'll have a great experience and meet people from all over the world, get to know a completely different community and new cultures, learn new skills and knowledge, expand your horizons. Mobility makes a person look at life very differently. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that all people are the same, despite the differences in cultures.
I am very happy that HSE University provides such a cool opportunity for students to try out the mobility programme and gain new knowledge and skills. I also really like that the educational system at HSE University is very modern and adaptive, that I have not had any problems with the teachers and the dean's office concerning mobility, everything was fast and easy, thank you very much!:)
I also wanted to thank Sergey Karapetyan for always motivating and supporting us; he is always open and willing to help if there are any questions or problems. So many thanks to Sergey and his team!