A Journey Abroad: Living in Moscow, Finding Friends and Studying at Skoltech
International student experience at Skoltech
Last year Skoltech welcomed three students from Thailand to pursue their master's degrees through the Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Skoltech Scholarship. Pornsruang Wiwattanakul (Nadia), Pornpawit Karpkerd (Paul) and Khattiya Pongsirijinda (Thomas) traveled to Moscow and immersed themselves into the Skoltech life. They shared their experience, what's it like for them to study at Skoltech and what they like about living in Russia.

applying to Skoltech through the scholarship
Nadia: I think one of the reasons that this scholarship is under the Royal Highness is because the Thai people really admire her. She is an advocate for higher education and has done a lot for its development in Thailand. She is a very aspiring person to look up to, it was an honor to receive such an award from her.

Thomas: I found out about the scholarship from an organization called NSTDA that distributes opportunities for higher education in Thailand. It was listed there as a result of a collaboration between Thailand and Russia during the first Russian-Thai Roundtable, in which they discussed building relationships between Thailand and Russia in developing science and technology.

Paul: I began teaching at my university, and many of my friends and classmates said they enjoyed my teaching. I was inspired to earn a PhD so I could teach at university level. So, I found Her Royal Highness' Princess scholarship on the NSTDA website. I saw that in Skoltech, the campus was also new and magnificent. I watched the official video, and immediately started my application. My main thought was, 'this will be a really great challenge for me', but that didn't stop me from applying.
choosing a study program
Paul: I started my studies about industrial logistics, I think it was in high school. I was assessing which field of job would be more fitting for me and which experience I could apply even working abroad. I think with industrial stuff, we can adapt everywhere, so that's why I chose industrial logistics. When I started bachelor's studies, they taught me a lot about the logic, about how to work with people and coordinate with other companies. Also, about how to manage the time schedules, to manage people and resources. I think it's very logical and still love it.

Nadia: What got me interested in materials is that everything in the world is made from a certain material, you know? If we know the properties of materials, we can create new ones. There is so much room for research and applications in this field.

Thomas: Okay, before my bachelor's degree, I was kind of like typical Asian student. I like math. So, I studied pure mathematics, but I realized it was too theoretical for me. And I wanted to apply it to the real world. So, I decided to study an applied or a data science to use my mathematics to apply to a newer, more innovative school.

Skoltech Master's programs
Skoltech offers Master's programs in 11 technological disciplines. Students receive rigorous theoretical and practical training, design their own research projects, participate in internships and gain entrepreneurial skills in English. The faculty is comprised of current researchers with international accreditation and achievements. Learn more
about the scholarship
The Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Skoltech Scholarship is a prestigious award given annually to three students from Thailand to study for a Master of Science degree in the areas of Data Science, Materials Science and Energy Systems at Skoltech, in Moscow. Committees of prominent scientists from Thailand and Russia conduct a competitive and rigorous selection of applications. Finalists are invited for an audience with H.R.H. Princess Sirindhorn who makes the final decision as to the three scholarship winners.
Skoltech's distinctive mission — of combining deep science and theory with technological innovation to address practical problems in the world — has created a remarkable learning environment for students to cultivate their talents for a successful career and to have an impact in the world. Recipients of the H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Skoltech Scholarship enjoy an amazing all-expenses-paid opportunity to combine a world class graduate-level academic experience with a personal journey of self-discovery and professional development. This takes place in a unique international community of extraordinary professors and students, right here in the marvelous city of Moscow.

Skoltech's collaboration with Princess Sirindhorn and the Government of Thailand honors the friendly relationship between Russia and Thailand that dates back to the 19th Century and symbolizes Skoltech's commitment to welcoming, nurturing and challenging intelligent and ambitious students from around the world for an unforgettable life-changing educational adventure.
Dr. Kelvin Willoughby
Professor of Innovation and Intellectual Property
Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
on studying at Skoltech
Paul: Skoltech adapts and applies data in every field of study, and it's very advanced compared to Thailand. In Thailand most of the studies are theoretical and outdated, unfortunately. So that's new and was quite challenging for me to get used to at first.

Thomas: Actually, I realized that international students must be more hard working, and more active. And sometime its quite hard to balance between study and life here. Compared to my experience in Thailand and even in the US, studies here are more intensive. But that means we learn more!

Nadia: I think Skoltech is best for its mission on innovation. It's unique and very different from other universities. Every class here is focused on not only what's been made already, but how to improve it and come up with something new. And lots of good research, of course.
living in Moscow, Russia
Paul: It was very challenging at first, especially because I don't speak Russian. When someone talked to me on the street, I said "Ya ne govoryu po-russki", which means "I don't speak Russian". But then they replied, "But you just said something in Russian!". That was awkward. Now I feel much more comfortable getting around the city. And, of course, at Skoltech everyone speaks English, so my studies are not affected.

I made friends during my first semester in Innovation Workshop. We were literally forced to work together, but you know, going through something challenging as a group really brings people together. I am glad I had that opportunity, I met amazing people, Russian and international.

Thomas: I really like the metro, because it's very convenient. We can go almost everywhere in Moscow and it only takes 30-40 minutes. I also like all the culture and literature, it's completely different from that of Thailand. Oh, and ice skating!

Before I came here, I was not the person that came to people first, definitely an introvert. But here, I needed to be more open because it's very good to have friends in a new country. Especially if you're in the same courses, because sometimes we really need to discuss our course materials and assignments. Skoltech and its curriculum really made me think outside of the box and get outside of my comfort zone. I love it.

Nadia: I love the food… During Christmas, we went back to Thailand and I brought some Russian snacks for my friends try it. It was so different to them! And I like the air here, especially near Skoltech. I think when you leave the city you can breathe better.
advice to international students
Paul: I suggest focusing on academic knowledge. International students must be very active here. I don't want to put too much stress on them, so they should just enjoy studying. Because if you enjoy studying, it will be easier to adapt and learn the materials. But you certainly have to be earnest. For me, if I don't understand something during a class, I always come to the professor and talk about them directly and honestly. That's a good thing to do, because no one will run after you, you are an adult and responsible for your own education.

Nadia: I always say, work hard, play hard. Don't be afraid of asking for help and inviting people to share experiences with you, go to places and events. There is so much to do in Moscow, you will definitely have an entire bucket list of places to visit and activities to attend.

Thomas: I'll add about culture. I think many international students may have heard stereotypes of Russian people, but I never encountered that. People here are very nice, much nicer than I expected. It's been a great pleasure to meet them, they are very welcoming. Enjoy it and be welcoming in return. Make your experience abroad count.

and now about Skoltech
We are Skoltech – a new international English-speaking STEM university that was founded by the group of world-renowned scientists in 2011 in Moscow, Russia. In just 8 years, we united dozens of researchers and globally renowned professors, built a stunning campus, set up world-class labs and made it to the top 100 young universities in the Nature Index. Read more >>
Discover Skoltech in less than 3 minutes
more stories? sure: