Nikita Elizarov, 2nd year Control and IT Systems student, Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radio Electronics

To being with, I would like to point out that I have always dreamed of visiting this magnificent tract of land called Europe, and one day, when I spied an ad pinned to the walls of our own TUSUR looking to recruit students to travel to a French school for Epitech programming, I realized that my dream was destined to come true.

This would not be just a banal trip around the tourist back streets (nobody, of course, refused this), but also a great opportunity to see the West from an educational standpoint – to take a course in an Epitech summer school, that specialises in information technology.

Of course, there is no way around the enormous problems with the paperwork. This, perhaps, is the first spoke in the wheel on the way to France or any other country. But do not imagine for a second that it will anything straightforward with these pieces of paper – the Russian-French TUSUR Centre is certain to come to one’s aid; for this I express my deep gratitude, because without them I could not have taken even one step towards my cherished dream.

My adventure began in France, in Paris itself – an unforgettable city with its extensive infrastructure and its famous atmosphere of history and romance. Huge parks, green spaces, places for leisure and entertainment, even the people themselves – all this fascinates and leaves a lasting impression on the ordinary man from the depths of Siberia.

Fortunately for me, tuition at the Summer School did not require a knowledge of French for all the classes were conducted in English, but the comprehension skills in technical jargon in English, as well as above-average knowledge of English are essential for comfortable study. As for the environment outside of school, a basic level of English is sufficient for survival within Paris, but it is much better to learn at least some standard phrases for everyday communication in French, otherwise one finds oneself having to display a puzzled look every time one hears French spoken in the hope that one’s interlocutor might switch to English.

As for the training programme, it was designed to run for the full 3 weeks, with the working day beginning at 9:00 and ending at 17:00. Teaching methods differ from what we are used to in our universities and schools. There are no lectures: there is some general plan, there is a concept of “motivation”, because if you want to learn, then you attend, and everyone is well aware of this. That is the way we were taught – we were given a task for the day that we had to solve by at the same time asking the teacher for hints and cooperating with our fellow students from different countries. During all the weeks we were repeatedly shown innovative projects, interesting technology-related programming, as well as being invited to the innovations “hub”, which is like our : like our SBI (Student Business Incubator).

But this was only the beginning. After a two-week programming language training programme the most interesting part of it began – Project Bootstrap (Commencement of work on the project), as they call it. Prior to that we had been asked what we wished to do that was ground-breaking. We had already thought this all through. Thus began the real work. We were given access to the best minds in the innovations “hub” to assist us in realising our projects into life; this was the most interesting and memorable project work that I have ever seen.

I would not dare to think that Epitech and the whole trip was nothing but a regular routine and fussing over the programming: it was also new and wonderful acquaintances with people from other countries, a chance to improve one’s knowledge of foreign languages and a great deal of free time to spend as we wished.

There is still much we would like to tell about this unforgettable trip, but I will just say that it was a great opportunity to develop our programming skills and knowledge of English, as well as to spend so much good time in such a wonderful country as France. I encourage each student to consider such a trip; it is almost our only opportunity to visit there not just as a tourist, but a student, able to realise their projects and in France a land so welcoming of young minds.

Rebel Bayisa, student at Kent University

Bootstrap Summer was very exciting and a great challenge for people like me who hadn’t done C or C++ before...We were asked to do things that were easy if you know how but they weren’t easy if you were a complete beginner. We had to do it all on our own which was cool.

My project was simple: design an app to enable several people to listen to the same track even if they’re thousands of miles apart. The name: Harmonii. I’ll carry on working on Harmonii when I get home – I’m going to treat myself to a week off because I came here as soon as term ended at Kent University…The end goal is to work on the APIs for Spotify or Deezer so you can select several tracks to listen to, pause at the same time, rewind or fast forward. I’ve mentioned Spotify and Deezer specifically because I think their interface is perfect: there are just tracks to press play on which is exactly what I wanted to do when I decided to launch this app.

I know I’m not the first to have this idea, there’s something similar with plug.dj and Google Hangouts has done it with Youtube videos, but what I want to do is create a new experience for listening to music. Not sharing tracks or music videos but listening to them together (and maybe commenting on them, there could be a chat room, comments box etc.). It may be a silly idea but I like it and I want to make it happen. We hope to use it one day this winter to remind us of the July summer heat in 2015.