My name is John Anderson. I'm 19 years old and I'm from Guyana, the northern coast of South America. It is a paradise for nature lovers, adventure seekers and eco-tourists: it has huge waterfalls, the Amazon rainforest, amazing wildlife and a vibrant indigenous culture. The coldest temperature in Guyana is 25 degrees Celsius.

Since my childhood I had a dream: I wanted to study in Russia. It is the largest country on earth and provides a great opportunity to develop your abilities.

Now I live and study on the other end of the world, where it’s -50 degrees in winter and +40 in summer. I do not know why it happened.  Apparently, there was a "shift" in the geography of my mind, or maybe I wanted something extreme. I knew nothing about this region, and indeed, the world does not know much about this place either. But it so happened that I chose not a big city in Russia but by modern standards a tiny one, with a population of just 300,000 people – the city of Yakutsk.

When I told my parents and family members that I wanted to go to the north and study in Yakutsk, they were shocked. My uncle quickly gave me a chart showing the temperatures. I looked at it and saw those magnificent figures and then smiled and said: “If people can live there, I can too!” I knew that this trip would open a whole new world for me. This is primarily an adventure in my life.

So I chose what is called the “edge of the earth." This edge of the earth is 19,541 miles away from my home. I went to the middle of nowhere! After traveling for three days from Georgetown, I arrived in Yakutsk, the capital of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). It turns out that it is the largest region in Russia. Excitement covered all my body. Where had I arrived? What would happen to me? I did not know what to expect.

I arrived in Yakutsk in October, when the temperature outdoors was -10. I saw something white falling from the sky, and my teacher told me that it was snowing. I did not know a single word in Russian and did not understand anything. For me it was a huge culture shock. Now I love this soft beautiful snow at winter that covers the whole earth. And how can a southerner keep warm in the North? I put on a pair of cotton socks with two pairs of warm socks, three pairs of warm pants (men's underwear), a pair of jeans, a warm undershirt, long-sleeved T-shirt, winter coat with a hood, a pair of wool gloves, a wool scarf and a hat. Apparently, I look exotic in these clothes. Also, I was the only Afro-American and everyone wants to take photographs with me and be friends. I felt like a superstar.

First we were taught Russian, and three months later I had already started to understand it. It was fantastic, after coming here and not knowing a single word! Then we studied mathematics, history and other necessary subjects. Now I am studying World Economics at The Finance and Economic Institute of North-Eastern Federal University. I like studying here. After completing my degree, I want to pursue my master’s and then work with the Government of Guyana as an economist. I want to serve my country.

In conclusion I would like to say that the arrival in Yakutsk and life in this region has changed me. It took me out from my comfort zone and gave me a new perspective on life. I was put to test and live a life in a completely different world. I strongly recommend to everyone to leave their comfort zone and go into the world with open eyes; experience for yourself what makes a young person’s identity. Your view of the world might change. The people living here are happy because they feel good in this ‘world’. They have a job, a dream and opportunities to make a career. North is their world and now this is my world too, because I live in it and I am interested about it.