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From HSE to Asia: Students Head East to Study Abroad

From HSE to Asia: Students Head East to Study Abroad

© Ekaterina Kologrivaya

The Master's Programme ‘Socioeconomic and Political Development of Modern Asia’ gives students the opportunity to study Asian countries not only in theory but in practice, thanks to academic mobility programmes at partner universities in China and other countries. HSE News Service spoke with three students of the programme about three aspects of their experiences—study, communication and food.

Nikolay Folomov, Second-Year Master’s Student

Before starting the Master’s programme at HSE I already had experience studying in Taiwan, where I studied Chinese, and I knew I wanted to travel to mainland China in the future. When I found out that HSE is a partner university with one of the universities in Shanghai, I immediately decided to apply for a study abroad programme there. The process itself took no more than two months: at the end of March I downloaded the application form to LMS, and in May I had an invitation from East China Normal University in Shanghai in hand.

At the university there I studied in the Global China Programme, which included four subjects: economics, sociology, marketing, and globalization. Economics and sociology may seem fairly straightforward for those who are already pretty familiar with China, as in my case. Therefore, I will tell you more about the courses on marketing and globalization.

The marketing classes were taught by an American professor with extensive experience in this field. Due to the fact that he had lived in Asia for the past 20 years—first in Japan and then in China—he was able to illustrate every theoretical aspect we discussed with an example from his own experience or international practice. The same can be said about the globalization course. In addition to the fact that the professor who taught that course had been conducting field research for a long time, she engaged both local students and children of migrants and other people affected by globalization in China in her research projects. This is really a fantastic approach to the presentation of the material—you get to learn about the subject in dynamic way.

As for Shanghai itself—it is an amazing place. On the one hand, the city is striking in terms of its sheer size, and on the other hand, you can find the quietest and most secluded areas in the world here, hidden in the shadows of the city’s towering buildings. I think that the cost of living and housing in Shanghai is higher than in most Chinese cities. I spent about $700 a month, not counting board. For my dorm I spent about $1700 for the semester. An important thing to note: regardless of whether you plan to stay in the dorm for 3 months or 4, you still have to pay the full semester price.


students are currently enrolled in the programme
of them are international students
> 100
alums graduated from the programme within the last 5 years

Anastasia Egorova, Second-Year Master’s Student

Since studying abroad in Taiwan when I was an undergraduate, I’ve had a special love for the south of China. Subsequently, I also visited Yunnan province with its multi-ethnic population and highland villages. In the south there is a special atmosphere—I don’t just mean the warm weather, green vegetation and open architecture, but a lifestyle that is radically different from ours. I was especially struck by Guangzhou. The city is very different: tall skyscrapers alternate with rural landscapes and green parks. My sister, who visited me in Guangzhou, said that she had never seen such beautiful parks before.

While studying in the programme, I started each day off with Chinese lessons, and then after lunch we had classes in various subjects. The course for international students was very accessible and equipped with the latest technology. Both local students and the teachers were impressed by the smart classroom, which was the only of its kind at the university. In the evenings there were events hosted by student clubs, which, at the beginning of the semester, hold a big fair in order to publicize their clubs and get students to join. Along the main road they put up stands and tents where you can learn information and they hold concerts and master classes. They’ve got everything here: from anime artists and musicians to environmentalists and Red Cross volunteers, there is something for everyone.

The campus has a lot of cafeterias and cafes at affordable prices. You can find both traditional dishes from different regions of China as well as European cuisine. But the real feast begins after 11 pm, when street vendors come from the nearest village and form a long chain along the side of the road with their food stands.

Students buy some street food and then sit right on the ground along the wide asphalt road and eat. Every evening, especially on the weekends, you can see gaggles of Chinese students sitting on the pavement with food and drinks. They come here to sit with friends, celebrate birthdays, hold student club meetings, and give improvised outdoor concerts with guitars and dancing.

Speaking of creativity, I was amazed by how many talented people there were there. One person might sing well, another is a professional dancer or plays multiple instruments, another makes films… If you have a Chinese friend, it’s not uncommon that you find out from others that he is actually a star of the university. But when you ask him about it, he says that he’s not, as if he’s not good enough and doesn’t do anything special.

In 2019, the Master’s Programme ‘Socioeconomic and Political Development of Modern Asia’ offers

state-funded places
fee-paying places
fee-paying places for international students

Ekaterina Kologrivaya, Second-Year Master’s Student

We lived and studied in Guangzhou—one of the most comfortable, beautiful and culturally rich cities of China—and we also visited Hong Kong, Macau and Guilin. We had an awesome schedule and were able to attend both language classes and subject-area classes. The program turned out to be extremely useful and interesting: I was fortunate enough to study ancient Chinese history and contemporary Chinese environmental policy and law. I will share some information that anyone visiting this Chinese province will definitely find useful—information about food.

Cantonese cuisine is sweet—there is no chili pepper anywhere, and the food is not spicy at all. What kind of China is this? But I was able to survive.

The dining facilities at Guangzhou University are excellent. I highly recommend eggplant 茄子 and potatoes 土豆 (these are two different dishes) with a double portion of rice, and on holidays add 青菜 with garlic. By the way, there are 500 different ways of preparing potatoes there, so that is something fun.

Also, there is an amazing library with a coffee shop on campus. We conducted classes there, did assignments, slept, read books that you can take at your leisure and carry around with you in the halls without having to formally check them out—we spent entire evenings there and did not regret it.

And also! There are a lot of bicycles on campus, and the whole university island is covered with bicycle paths—do you know what I’m getting at? I never paid for a bike, since I looked for ones that were free to use, and I was too lazy to register, but it is super cheap to rent one, so I really recommend taking advantage of this form of transport 24/7.

The people there are good and kind—in short, typical southerners who I simply adore. Many of them, however, do not really study, but rather just play games and want to start businesses. But this is something that is only important for a teacher of Chinese foreign trade. We will not judge them for it.

The programme is English-taught. Admissions are based on the quality of applicants’ portfolios. International students can apply online.

Programme students are currently studying in China, Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Latvia and Kazakhstan.

On May 24-25, Eastern Perspective, a student conference, will be held at HSE. The first day of the conference will feature a round table where participants will present papers in English. Winners, prize recipients and participants of the round table will receive certificates that grant additional points for their portfolios. The call for conference applications ends May 15.

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