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‘Tough Time Brings All of Us Closer Than Ever’

‘Tough Time Brings All of Us Closer Than Ever’

Photo courtesy of Thuy Tien Huynh

Thuy Tien Huynh from Vietnam is a second-year student in the Asian and African Studies Bachelor’s programme of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, majoring in Arabic. She enrolled at HSE University after winning an HSE Global Scholarship Competition in 2018. Thuy Tien Huynh has talked to HSE News Service about her choice of major, distance learning, and life in lockdown in Moscow.

Studying Arabic in a Russian Programme

To me, studying Arabic, one of the most difficult languages in the world beside Russian, is an appealing challenge and amazing experience. It gives me an opportunity to see the other side of the world, expand my horizons, sharpen my knowledge and widen my heart—since I get to better understand people from different cultures, religions, and life circumstances.

Also studying Arabic in a Russian programme poses for me a great number of overwhelming difficulties. However, because of these challenges, I realize that human abilities are infinite and I am more in love with my study and this beautiful world.

The whole programme is very interesting to me. Since I have to deal with three languages at the same time (Russian, English, Arabic and sometimes my mother tongue, Vietnamese), all the courses everyday push my limits further and further.

I am very lucky to study with all of the committed and understanding teachers

I admire all the teachers I have. They always create the best conditions so that I can understand the lecture like Russian students. Although the teachers are always strict, they are very sympathetic to the students and are always ready to help us.

I am very grateful to have spent the first year studying Arabic with my professor Alexey Mishchenko and the current Arabic professor Aslanbek Salgireev. Their lectures and life experience inspire me to learn Arabic well and be in love with Arabic culture and history.

Photo courtesy of Thuy Tien Huynh

I have been learning Russian over 5 years, so my level of Russian is quite good to understand normal conversations and lectures. However, I still have many problems in understanding—as any foreigner. Thanks to the great huge support and kindness of my teachers and classmates, I can keep up with the lessons well and I am not taking any Russian courses now.

Distance Learning and Preparing for Exams

My schedule depends on the number of lectures I have for different days. Usually, I am studying around 4 hours per day. We have classes almost every day—Monday through Saturday. There is typically quite a lot of homework, for instance, I might I need to do translation of Arabic-Russian texts, or write essays on history and literature.

Now, we all try to keep up with the pace as we did before the lockdown. All teachers understand that distant studying is harder than regular mode of studies and they all are ready to help us with any questions we have. We can get extra consultations and advice from them if needed. With online classes, I have more time to do the homework and review the notes from the lectures.

We have access to HSE library online resources. However I don't use the library very often, since all the essential materials for my studies are sent directly to me by my teachers.

However, it is obviously getting harder to study and you need strong will in order not to skip classes. I have almost finished all tests and now we are in the process of exam preparation. All my exams will take place from the middle of June till June 23.

I am still reviewing all the information we covered during the semester, so I spend around 7 hours per day memorizing what we have been studying in preparation for the exams. I have all information I need about the exams in detail. Our teachers very clearly and carefully informed us. We will use Examus.com website or Zoom to take the exams.

Photo courtesy of Thuy Tien Huynh

Life in the Dorm during Lockdown

I’m living in Dorm 1 located next to Prospekt Mira. The pace of life here is moving slower than it was before the city lockdown. Most of students staying in dorm now are international ones, whose home country has closed their border, therefore they are stuck here. The rest of the dorm residents made their own choice to stay for many reasons.

At the beginning of this "endless holiday", I think we all faced some of the most terrible times of our lives. We acknowledged that our situation somehow is worse than that of Russian students, since we are far from home and we didn't know what would happen next, how life could be in a world health crisis, how to maintain a normal life just via a laptop screen within 4 walls...

I think we all faced various mental health issues, myself included. I cut my super long hair to above-shoulder length all by myself. The only reason for this spontaneous action was to ‘renew’ myself while the situation seemed not to change a lot.

Now I have come to an optimistic conclusion that I and all of my friends here are adapting to this "new life" quite well. We take advantage of this "stay at home" time to know ourselves better.

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

To me, this lockdown period not only brings me more time to concentrate on my studies but also helps me change my lifestyle for the better. I have to admit that I have a significantly free period of time to take care of myself.

Thanks to this quarantine, I eat more logically and scientifically. I usually cook myself but sometimes I order a pizza in order to change my mood, especially when Moscow gets soaked to skin with rainy cold weather.

Most of the time, I prepare a meal with three dishes: rice (or noodles), meat (usually a chicken breast, pork or beef) and a salad (I mix all types of vegetables with different recipes for each meal). I try to cook these three dishes in different styles with various ingredients so that I don't get bored with them every day. In order to enhance the body's resistance against the virus, I also add vitamins via fruit or food supplements.

In addition, I always try to spend at least 1 hour per day exercising in the gym. I have maintained this habit for more than six months and in my opinion this is the key to keeping your mind free and strong during this lockdown time.  We have a gym in our dorm, which I truly appreciate. I alternate going to the gym and practicing yoga. Sometimes, when I feel too stressed, I do mediation before sleep, trying to keep my breath deep and regular.

I have to say I am very grateful for the free time I have during the quarantine. Not a lot of times in your life you literally and metaphorically have your own time, the real silence.

I use this time to reflect on myself and improve my knowledge as well as nourishing my soul with books and music a lot. I chose to read books giving contemplation of life, Middle Eastern history books (supplementing my knowledge of my major), cookbooks, books on yoga, meditation or psychological and sociology books. For me, these titles have really helped me through this difficult time. The most important thing they bring is peace for the soul.

Some titles I read include Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl; Happiness by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Hidden Messages In Water of Masaru Emoto, Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers of Leonard Koren, and others.

I also spend more time talking with my family and friends in the dorm. We try our best to comfort each other, stand side by side through difficulties and we more and more understand and appreciate the time we are spending through together now. Honestly, tough time brings all of us closer than ever.

Admissions to HSE’s Bachelor's and Master’s programmes are now open. International students can apply online. To learn more about HSE University, its admission process, or life in Moscow, please visit International Admissions website, or contact the Education & Training Advisory Centre at: inter@hse.ru, or via WhatsApp at: +7 (916) 311 8521.

Undergraduate applicants can take mock exams online to evaluate their chances of being accepted. Graduate applicants can register for preliminary portfolio assessment.

Global Scholarship Competition 2021 will be held October 22 - 29, 2020. Registration is open until October 12, 2020.

Register for Global Scholarship Competition 2021

Prepared by Anna Chernyakhovskaya

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