Eva Guerrero:“Don't be afraid to make mistakes, even if you are frustrated and do not know how to express yourself. It is a crucial part of any learning process ”
Interview with Eva Guerrero, a second-year student of Master's program“Socioeconomic and Political Development of Modern Asia ”.
You have lived in Moscow for one and a half years. What are your impressions of studying abroad?
I love Moscow. I think it is a great place to live and it is a very lively city for foreign students as well. It has a lot to offer and it is very affordable, at least by European standards. Regarding HSE, people who work at the administration offices are extremely kind, always willing to help and answer any question you might have. I found them to be very efficient with the paperwork/red tape as well. I recall that I even received a call when my registration was about to expire to remind me that I had to renew it, which I honestly found to be very impressive. When it comes to the academic program, I personally loved professor Karpov’s lectures. I was amazed at his revolutionary approach and how he encouraged the students to see things from a different perspective and to question things and be critical. In addition, I liked the fact that the program gives the students certain flexibility to choose the topics they are interested in. On the other hand, I have to recognize that, as someone who did not have a background on the field, when the choice was so wide, it became harder to make a choice and define the topic.
Why did you choose to study at HSE University?
I studied in St.Petersburg before, but I understood that it was not the place for me, so I decided to move to Moscow. HSE is one of the best universities in Russia, so that’s mainly the reason why I chose it. Another strong point about HSE is the living accommodation that the university provide to its students. Of course I did not know it before hand, but I was very lucky with the dorm I was placed in. Dorms in Russia are very affordable, and mine was pretty close to the university, which was very convenient. It was very clean and tidy, and there was a bathroom in the room to share only with my roommate. There were washing machines and other household appliances, so it was very comfortable to live there.
Your Bachelor major was not connected with oriental studies. Cloud you please say a few words about your previous degree and say why you have chosen ‘Socioeconomic and Political Development of Modern Asia’ program?
Yes, I studied Physical Therapy in Barcelona, which I liked very much and I still consider it to be a wonderful profession if done properly. I abandoned the medical field because of the system (I realized how people have made a business out of it, caring less about patients and more about money), and I did not want to contribute to that. After having worked for 4 years as a physical therapist I decided to explore other possibilities, so I moved to Russia to simply learn Russian. Once in Saint Petersburg, I got a scholarship from the Russian Government and I decided to stay in the country so that I could improve my Russian. Once you get the scholarship, you choose the specialty but not the program. I chose ‘African and Asian Studies’ because I like languages very much, and I thought some Chinese or Arabic would be involved. I am not really sure I will continue to work in this field, because I am not sure what I can bring to it. The program provided us with good general knowledge, but I feel that I do not know enough to work in this field and bring value to it.
You have mastered Russian in such a short period of time. Could you please share some tips that help you in learning a foreign language? Do you plan to study any Asian language?
Well, ‘mastering’ is a big word, which is not even close to define my Russian level. I need to improve a lot. I feel like I still speak as a child (laughing). I do understand Russian though. Firstly, I think it is really important to like the language. I love how Russian sounds, and although it is difficult, the fact that I like it helped me to stay always motivated to keep learning it and improving it. Secondly, you need to make the learning process, to some extent, fun and try to speak from the very beginning, regardless of how embarrassed you might be of making mistakes. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, even if you are frustrated and do not know how to express yourself. It is a crucial part of any learning process. Look up for words that you will likely need in the future. Try to be consistent, diligent and study a bit every day - listen to a podcast or watch some videos/cartoons, which can be just 10-15 minutes long. I studied Russian for 8 months in the preparatory faculty in St. Petersburg, and in Moscow I went to classes for a month but the level was too high. Then I transferred to a lower level but it was too easy, so I quit. Now I use an application for language exchange that is called “Tandem”. A couple of days ago I spoke with a language exchange partner from Tallin, who is a native Russian speaker, and I helped him with French. I was supposed to go to Shanghai and study Chinese during the first semester of the second year of our program, but it was not possible due to the pandemic. I am moving to Italy instead (HSE provided an opportunity to change the country of student exchange from China to Italy, thus I will study for in Italy for one semester) in a month, so i think I will mostly focus on Italian and, of course, in trying to improve my Russian as well.
Apart from studying, how did you spend your leisure time in Moscow?
To be quite honest, I spent most of my time studying (laughing). I did not have the chance to go out a lot since I take my studies too seriously (more than I sometimes would like to!) nor to travel as much as I would have liked it inside the country, but I managed to go all the way to Siberia and visiting in total about 7-8 different Russian cities. Of course, the pandemic has, to some extent, limited the possibility of enjoying Moscow to the fullest but, in any case, I was very busy studying, especially when I had essays to submit. At some point I started going to one of the gyms that was not far from where I lived. When I had some free time I enjoyed just walking around the city. I like Nikolskaya Street and Red Square very much. I know it is quite typical, but I love the city center. I also like Moscow City, it reminds me of the 3 years I lived in New York. One of my favorite walks is from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior to Gorky Park bordering the river.
Please tell us about your hobbies. Did you find any new ones while studying at HSE?
Well, I like reading, traveling and learning languages. Actually, I like to learn practically everything, but I am mostly into learning various things related to healthy lifestyle, nutrition and people’s communication and other psychology topics. I like sports also, as well as many other things, but, unfortunately, I do not have much free time, so I cannot say I discovered any new hobby in Moscow.
Your Master’s thesis topic concerns the issue of labor market regulation in the context of aging in Japan. Why did you choose Japan as the country of interest?
I have chosen Japan simply because I felt more comfortable writing about this country, much more than writing about China, which personally find it more complex although extremely interesting. My thesis focuses on the issue of the demographic crisis that Japan is experiencing with the subsequent labour shortage and everything that it implies, from the social implications to the maintenance of the pensions and welfare system. Culture plays an important role not only in the problem but also in the solution, so cultural aspects are also taken into account in my research.