As education tourism has become increasingly popular all over the world, a young man from the Republic of Ghana, who obtained his PhD in Russia, has shared his own story.
Speaking with Rossiya Segodnya, Mohammed Sanka opened up about his education in the Russian city of Belgorod, studies in law, how he obtained his PhD, and Russia's cold winters.
"When I was a kid, I dreamt of becoming a football player.
I started playing when I was little, and I was the best player on the school team.
Over time, due to various reasons, I understood that I wouldn't be able to become a professional player, that football was not my future.
I decided to focus on my other interest – I wanted to become a diplomat.
" "When I studied in secondary school I often heard about Russia in the news.
There was more negative than positive news about the country – cold winter, Russians are unfriendly, alcoholics and bears roam the streets.
" "With time I came to realize that this negative news was part of propaganda.
So, when I was faced with a choice - to study in one of the top universities in Ghana or study abroad for free - I decided to go to Russia.
As a football fan, I need to note that Russia’s brilliant performance at UEFA Euro 2008 was another reason that prompted me to go live among the "bears".
I applied to the jurisprudence department at Belgorod State University.
My specialty was international law.
" "Already on my way to the dormitory, I realized that Belgorod is a beautiful, clean, well-planned city, and Russians in general were very friendly and hospitable.
I remember how we failed to buy water with my friend before we got on a train to Belgorod and when we got thirsty some guys on the train just gave us two bottles of water.
" "As for weather… To be honest, I don’t like winter, but truth be told winter in Belgorod is not as cold as I imagined before I came to Russia.
It was difficult during the first two years, but after living here for 10 years, I can say I got accustomed to Russia's winter.
It’s obvious that I like warm weather, because I come from a country where it’s +25-30 degrees Celsius (77-86 degrees Fahrenheit).
" "We studied Russian language for a year at pre-university courses at Belgorod State University.
We came to Russia not knowing a single letter in the alphabet, but over time we managed to overcome all difficulties thanks to teachers and while speaking with other students during lessons and other educational activities.
" "The first three months of education at the university were very exciting.
Despite good language skills, it was hard to listen to lecturers and take notes.
Because of this I started doubting myself, but thank God that I didn’t give up and studied up until late at night to prepare for exams.
Teachers and fellow classmates helped me a lot too.
" "I was amazed that during my studies I got a chance to work as a real lawyer when I took part in such prestigious events as the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition.
I took part in many academic events and published my research in conference proceedings, which were highly evaluated.
I also was the best player on the university's football team and even became president of the society of African students.
" "I will always remember the day I received my diploma with honors.
This was the result of long years of hard work, stress and sleepless nights.
" "After I graduated from Belgorod State University, I got accepted to the University of Veliko Tarnovo, where I began writing my doctoral thesis.
Recently I defended it and became a PhD in Philosophy specializing in international law and international relations.
" "My next goal is to become a professor at one of the top universities in Ghana or get a job at a prestigious research institute.
In the future, I plan to work as a diplomat in Ghana or join some international organization.
" "My advice to foreign students who plan on studying in Russia is to stay focused and get good at Russian while studying at pre-university courses.
Foreign students need to work harder, they have to stay motivated in order to study well.
Some students get discouraged due to language difficulties and some even use the language barrier to get good marks, but this is wrong.
If you come here to study, you need to work hard and you will definitely succeed.