Exploring Siberia: an Interview with SUSU Student, Uvindu Wijeweera

There are many international students from 48 countries of the world studying at South Ural State University.

Student of the Institute of Linguistics and International Communications, Uvindu Wijeweera, came to study at SUSU from the Sri Lanka island. According to Uvindu, Russian literature and Russian culture are very well-respected in his country. The student told us why the word “Siberia” is popular in his country and why he decided to explore it last winter.

‒ Is Russian culture popular in your country?

‒ In Sri Lanka we have Russian Cultural Center; there is a Russian Club in which people gather each week to discuss Russian books, culture and movies. Also, we have a magazine entitled “Russia”. Every three months, an edition with interesting stories about Russia, about relationships between Russia and Sri Lanka, about tourist places and about students who are living in Russia gets issued. This magazine publishes stories of ordinary locals and articles of Russian Embassy. I published manyinteresting stories there.

‒ How did you learn about Siberia?

‒ Russian literature is very popular in our country. When I was little, I used to read a lot of it and this is how I learned Russian geography and history. There are many Soviet’s books which say that bad people were sent to Siberia; that is why many people have the impression that living there is difficult. And when I came to Russia, I wanted to see Siberia and find out what it is really like.

‒ How do you use the word “Siberia” in Sri Lanka?

‒ My university in Sri Lanka is very big, so many students compare far end of the university with Siberia, because it is located really far. Also, our teacher in Sri Lanka used to joke that if we don’t know Russian language, we can buy a ticket to the train from Siberia to Vladivostok and back and learn the language in a couple of weeks.

‒ You are planning to write an article about Siberia. Where are you going to publish it?

‒ Last year we celebrated the 60th anniversary of relationships between Russia and Sri Lanka and our President flew to Russia. On this occasion, we had a special issue of our magazine in which I would like to publish the story about Siberia. Every day people of Sri Lanka use the word “Siberia”, but no one really knows what it is.

‒ Which Siberian cities did you visit?

‒ At the end of January I made a plan according to which I went to explore Siberia. I went to Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Kurgan and Tyumen. The entire trip took me one week.

‒ What interesting did you find in these cities?

‒ During the World Festival in Sochi, in which I took part in last year’s October, I met a lot of people from various cities, including those that I visited at the end of January. When I told my friends that I am going to come visit, they offered me their homes for staying. I had a lot of fun with them; they showed me their cities, which was useful and interesting for me. In each city, I visited sights and hiked to mountains and went to the forest.

‒ Was this trip along Siberia useful for you?

‒ I have never been to Siberia before so I liked this trip very much. I think that Siberia is the heart of Russia. And if you have never been there, you never discovered the mystery of Russian soul. Now I am going to write an article about Siberia in three parts, each of which I am going to publish in new issues of the magazine.

Marina Kovyazina
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