Argentinian talks about time at International Olympiad in Informatics in Almaty

What’s up readers?

Today we’d like you to meet Román Castellarin, a 18-year old programmer from Argentina! This summer he had a chance to participate in International Olympiad in Informatics that took place in Almaty. It’s a prestigious international competition for young programmers and coders.

Roman is passionate about computer sciences, mathematics and visual arts. He goes to Instituto Politecnico Superior, a state high school in Argentina, where he is specializing in informatics.

Roman won a Bronze and a Silver medal in the Ibero American Olympiad in Informatics and represented Argentina in the International Olympiad in Informatics three times now: Australia in 2013, Taiwan in 2014, and Kazakhstan in 2015.

Is it your first time in the International Olympiad in Informatics?

No, this was my third time actually. I’ve been to Australia and Taiwan. However, each IOI is different from one another, so it always feels like it’s the first time.

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

What do you think about this competition? Was it hard to be selected?

Well, as I said in other interviews, IOI is a very prestigious competition and it’s an honor on its own to be part of it. Only the top 4 young programmers from every country get to go to IOI, so we can say it’s pretty hard. Even so, and despite the high level of exigency required, with proper training and tons of effort I was able to successfully reach such places for the past 3 years.

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

What did you like most in Almaty?

Everything.

From the plane, Almaty looked like any other city. But as soon as you leave the airport you are immersed in its culture,

I want to highlight the hospitality of its people and their willingness to make our trip in Kazakhstan an unforgettable experience. I’ve learned so much from them, even Russian and the Kazakh language. One day, we all danced «Қара Жорға».

Oh, just for the record, don’t go if you are some sort of a flower-hater, they’re everywhere. 🙂

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

What sight-seeings did you see? Which one impressed you most?

We went to the sport center “Medeu”. It’s located very high in the mountains. Honestly, who builds a sport center so high? That’s crazy, and awesome. Anyway, the trip in the cable cars was amazing. During all the way up you could see some picturesque houses built right below. When we finally reached the top, the view was astonishing: Almaty could be seen as a little pond in the distance. But most importantly, we did not expect to see snow during SUMMER! So that actually came as a surprise to us. For you readers to picture it, I was wearing shorts that day. But neither my friends nor I was going to let the cold weather prevent us from climbing the neighboring mountain, and so we did. It was a great experience.

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

Have you heard about Central Asia before?

Yes!, the famous «-stan» countries. And I’m really really bad at geography.

Did you try Kazakh food? What did you like most?

Yes I did try Kazakh food and I had mixed reactions as regards it. Most food was kind of exotic for me, some food that we were served for breakfast would definitely be for dinner in Argentina, which is cool as our favorite meal is dinner 🙂 . On the other hand, there were some meals very similar to ours, in particular I was gladly surprised when I recognized some «empanadas» among the food, a plate you guys call «samsa», right? So I didn’t feel homesick, in fact, I felt like home! I found baursacks to be extremely addictive, and kazy a mouthwatering delicacy. However, I didn’t find Kumy to be like anything I had tried before, It’s definitely a must, but expect a sudden sour flavor when you take a sip!

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

Would you come back to Kazakhstan?

Absolutely yes. I only stayed in Almaty for a week, and I feel there’s so much more to discover there and in the rest of the country. I miss my Kazakh friends so badly and I promised myself I would visit them again whenever I had the chance. Luckily for me the Internet shortens the distances.

If I ever go back, I shall definitely go to Astana. I’ve heard so much about that city that I wouldn’t like to skip going there.

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

Are there any similarities between Argentinian and Kazakh cultures?

A lot. Kazakhstan is such a melting pot! Besides the empanadas I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t believe my ears when my friend Assel told me she liked Tango. I was all like «Tango?, you guys know tango!?» Tango is a traditional dance born in Argentina which somehow traveled 16,000 km to Kazakhstan. That’s just so cool !!

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

Photo courtesy of Román Castellarin

What a journey did Roman have this summer! And we are happy he shared his impressions and pictures with us. Thank you Roman!

Rakhmet readers!