Interview with the program's graduate
Makhzuna Yunusova is a 2022 graduate of the program "Political Analysis and Public Policy". In this interview she shared her memories of the program, the experience of applying her knowledge to practice and tips for graduates. Details can be found below.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I enrolled in the program in 2020 and studied on the "Human Rights and Democratic Governance" track. I managed to go to an exchange program in France during my second year of studies. I graduated from the program in 2022.
What areas of scientific interest did you have during your Master's degree?
Among the many areas of my research interests were violations of the rights of migrant workers from Central Asia in Russia. Consequently, my term paper and thesis were based on this topic.
Which disciplines were interesting, and which were useful in the future?
In general, all the courses were useful and expanded knowledge in the field of political analysis and public policy. Individual experience of certain professors made a profound contribution to the understanding of such phenomena as "human rights" and "conflict management". A lot of the knowledge came in handy, and I still turn to it at my current master's program in Sorbonne, France.
By the way, about further education… Do you have any plans to enroll in a PhD program?
After HSE, I decided to deepen my knowledge in the field of migration. I am currently studying at the Master's program of the Sorbonne University and the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS) on a migration program. After graduating from HSE, I understood that there is a difference between the methodology of migration and, for example, political and/or social sciences in France. As a result, I decided to dedicate more time to studying the details, so that I will be more competent and prepared for PhD.
I am aware that you have completed an exchange program during your studies at HSE. Tell us a little bit about it. Did you like it? What general differences stood out for you?
I won a university competition, thanks to which I went to the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS) in October 2021. The most noticeable differences were in administrating the study process and teaching methods.
For example, the Higher School of Economics has many information systems (Smart LMS, etc.) aimed at supporting students during their study process. In France, the process of access to information systems is less structured, and as a result students must perform extra actions to access information.
Practical classes also differ from the usual format of lectures and seminars. In Paris, they are combined in a 2-hour interval and do not have a clear difference. And also, instead of modules, we have a division of the academic year into sessions. A session is something that replaces both a lecture and a seminar. Therefore, classes are held for 2 hours. There are 12 sessions of 2 hours of classes in each semester.
What recommendations would you give to students who want to apply to the exchange program?
Do not neglect your rating and motivational letter. Both of them can play a crucial role in successfully applying to the exchange program. Don’t forget to write the motivation letter yourself. The rating is a reflection of your academic performance and learning ability, while the letter shows the real motivation and goals of each student. Together with the resume, it displays in words what the rating figures cannot say, and this is an important element for success!
If you know any other foreign languages - do not forget to mention it. In general, do not limit yourself to English. Trust me, languages are always an important and valuable knowledge, not only for the mobility program.
How is your life after the Master's degree? Where are you studying now? Has the experience of studying at the HSE helped you in life?
I am very happy about how things turned out after the master's degree. As I said earlier, I decided to deepen my knowledge on migration and enrolled in the Master's program of the Sorbonne University and the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS). I chose this direction precisely because of my studies on the "Political Analysis and Public Policy” program at HSE. Also, thanks to the professors from HSE, I received valuable advice and contacts of people who helped me in my further educational path at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS).
Am I correct in understanding that you are geographically not in Moscow right now? What is your experience of moving to another city?
While I was studying at HSE, I lived in Moscow. Now I am living in Paris. The biggest challenge I faced when moving abroad was fear. Fear of adaptation, people, the language barrier and etc. These problems were less evident in Moscow. In France, like in Russia, when I encountered these challenges, people always extended a helping hand and tried to support me. I am very glad that location does not affect the kindness of people around.
The rhythm of life in both cities is fast paced. But I can note a slight contrast in the structure of the city. Paris is more like Saint-Petersburg with its architectural monuments, while Moscow for me is full of skyscrapers and feels like one big business center.
And to round this interview of: what advice would you give to the students of the program and applicants who are thinking of enrolling to HSE?
The most important, yet simple advice is - never stop learning. Make the maximum of the program and communication with professors. It is better to do something than to regret your own inaction! It might be difficult in the moment, but all this experience will be useful in the future.
Applicants of the program need to be ready to work with large volumes of text, communicate with different people and understand the ultimate goal of studying for a master's degree. I believe that a person who has a goal has coordinates, a compass, and a map to achieve the desired result.
As I said earlier, languages are a very important tool. Knowledge of English is great, but do not limit yourself here. What is more, cherish the contacts and communication with your professors. Do not hesitate to communicate with them and remember that they are also humans who can share valuable knowledge and experience. From my experience, I can say that this is very valuable in the moment and in the future!