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‘Russia Is a Country Full of Opportunities for Personal and Academic Growth’

‘Russia Is a Country Full of Opportunities for Personal and Academic Growth’

© HSE University

HSE University’s International Preparatory Programme has awarded diplomas to the class of 2020. International students completed their yearlong intensive studies that included a Russian language course and a variety of subject specific courses. The aim of the preparatory programme is to help students get ready to enroll in Russian-taught full degree programmes at HSE and other Russian universities.

International Preparatory Programme 2020:




students on Russian government scholarships



The vast majority of programme graduates will continue their studies in HSE’s undergraduate and graduate programmes, both Russian and English-taught. Around 100 students have received Russian government scholarships that will cover the full cost of tuition. Others have applied to tuition-fee studies, taking advantage of an additional discount that successful Preparatory Programme graduates are eligible for.

The pilot group of the English preparatory programme in Economics has also finished their studies recently. The graduates of this programme received training in a variety of Economics-related disciplines along with English language classes in preparation for applying to English-taught programmes offered by ICEF and other HSE University schools. Next year, the programme is set to continue.

Admissions for 2020/2021 school year are now open. In addition to the regular courses, International Preparatory Programmes will be offering a blended course with online Russian language lessons in the fall semester. In the winter semester, the classes will be taught on campus. International students can also take the Test of Russian as a Foreign Language and receive an official language proficiency certificate.

Three 2020 Preparatory Programme graduates have talked to HSE News Service about their experience studying and living in Moscow.

Vinley Ortuwa
photo courtesy of Vinley Ortuwa

Vinley Ortuwa

I decided to study in Russia because I wanted to learn a new language and get out of my comfort zone. My friends had told me about Russia and their feedback was good. So, I decided to apply for HSE’s Preparatory programme in Moscow.

I met all the admission requirements, so it was easy to secure the Russian government scholarship that allowed me to study free of charge.

The challenging thing about Russia was experiencing the winter because I had not experienced it before, hence it was very cold for me. Another challenge was communicating with Russians at first. I was not able to say what I needed to in Russian and I did not understand when I was spoken to in Russian. By taking the preparatory classes and with the help of my teachers and friends who already spoke Russian, I could express myself. Yandex translate also helped me sometimes when I was alone.

My studies have been very good. I have had very understanding and patient teachers and nice classmates. Online classes were a bit challenging because the interaction was different but they turned out well once I got used to them.

Thanks to my teachers, my Russian is now better. I can engage in short conversations and can understand almost 50%. The other subjects such as History have been helpful in understanding the culture and improving my vocabulary. The exams had to be held online because of the pandemic, so there were some problems at the beginning as no one had used the system before.

My overall impression of studying and living in Moscow is that it is a very busy city. It is also very safe and has helpful resources all round. The people in Moscow I have interacted with are mostly foreigners, which is interesting as I got to understand their experiences too.

I chose to study Economics next year because HSE University is among the top universities in Russia and hence it has adequate resources for this field of study.

Georgina Larruz Jimenez

Two years ago, I decided to come to FIFA World Cup. I saw that Moscow is a beautiful city and I fell in love with it immediately. It is difficult to explain, but when I was at Red Square, I felt that it was the moment to apply for an international programme. One of my dreams has always been to study and live in another country. Moscow pushed me and motivated me to act on my dream.

I came back in December 2018 and convinced myself to apply for an undergraduate programme. I checked the information available on Russia Study, found an attractive programme at HSE, but it was only available in Russian.  During the application process, the International Admissions team suggested that I apply for the Preparatory Year Programme in order to learn Russian.

In Mexico, the Russian language is not so common, but I took some lessons to avoid being shocked in the first lessons. Once I arrived in Moscow and started the course, I found some difficulties with pronunciation of some words and grammar. I saw that my classmates had a little bit more knowledge than me. I only knew the basics, but I did my best.

The first three months of the course were very intensive, but my teachers did a great job. They planned the lessons very well and went beyond the student's books.

The teachers showed us facts about the Russian history and culture. We went to skate in Red Square, and also visited Tsaritsino Museum and Bunker 42. 

I also tried to listen to the Russian language as much as possible in the metro and with my Russian friends.  In addition, my teacher encouraged me to do a very big presentation for the Welcome Day  event—of course, in Russian. It went fine, but for me it was a very big challenge.  

Nowadays, I can say that I have made a very big progress in my Russian— I'm able to communicate with other people. There is still room for improvement but I have understood that you need to be patient with yourself to discover your abilities when you are learning a new language. 

In the middle of the course I chose the Economics track because my Master's degree programme is 'Marketing: Digital Technologies and Marketing Communications'. I won a scholarship through Open Doors Olympiad and this programme is a perfect fit for me. 

Economics and Maths lessons were difficult for me in the beginning because the teachers used unknown academic words or sometimes spoke too fast. Mathematics was the hardest because we studied the topics which I reviewed 13 years ago and could not remember that well. Faced with this, I looked for additional resources to understand the classes, for example, YouTube videos.

I started preparing for my final exams three weeks in advance. I was pleasantly surprised that, after a lot of months of learning, I was much better at Maths than at the start of the course. This is very important for my future studies. I really learnt a lot and feel more confident now.

The pandemic was a very big challenge for teachers, as well as students. The teachers had to change their lessons plans in order to cover all the material. On our part, we had to be prepared and attentive during the lessons. Moreover, the emotional implications of the lockdown had a very hard impact on everyone. I felt little bit tired after the lessons and homework, but I knew that it was the way to adapt to a new situation.

Every teacher made a very big effort to make the transition to an online format comfortable for everybody. 

My experience in Russia was really good. Russian education is very strong. Being an international student offers you a lot of opportunities to meet people from other countries and cultures. Furthermore, Moscow is a great city to live in. There are many places to relax and have fun and the public transport is really efficient. I would recommend everybody to study in Russia. I think that is a country full of opportunities for personal and academic growth.

Teddy Ondiek Dunde

I chose to study in Russia out of curiosity. When I was growing up, my father would read us stories of Mikhail Gorbachev and Baba Yaga—a famous witch of the East, well-known in Russia. Secondly, Russia is not talked much about in my country apart from the news from the western media. I, therefore, took time off in order to immerse myself in Russian culture and get a clear understanding of my childhood stories.

To better understand Russia, I chose to learn the Russian language.

Some of the main challenges I faced in Russia include the difficulty in communication because the majority of people on the street speak only Russian. Secondly, the cold winter without snow in 2019 wasn’t enjoyable and the lack of street culture like street food made the streets feel empty at least in winter.

My studies were very fruitful. My Russian language teachers were very demanding but helpful. This enabled me to understand, speak, and pass my B1 level Russian language exams. I can now buy things from the shops, hold a very short conversation, and make sense of written words.

The main difficulty in learning the Russian language was in the use of nouns and adjectives which keep changing depending on the six different cases and whether a noun is male, female, neuter, or plural!

In the process of my language course, COVID-19 struck and so we had to shift to online classes. This was not what I ever imagined going through. It took away some level of interaction with fellow students and the teachers restricting us to sitting in front of a computer for hours just staring at the screen. Luckily some of our teachers were creative enough to introduce interactive activities—using Kahoot app, for instance.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my progress in the Russian language at 8 and 7 for other subjects. Taking the exams online was stressful and confusing but I managed.

In general, studying in Moscow was interesting because of the new culture.

Learning the history of Russia got me reflecting on my own countries history which is shorter than Russian, and learning the importance of Moscow metro during World War II was very informative. I further came to the realization that most things in Russia look old but they work efficiently.

I chose to further my studies in the Master's programme in Politics. Economics. Philosophy because through this combination I would get to learn more about Russian people and get mentored by some of the best professors in Russia

Apply for International Preparatory Programmes

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

See also:

Classes Start at HSE International Preparatory Programmes

In terms of format, this new academic year has been an unusual one for many HSE students. In HSE University’s International Preparatory Programmes (IPP), 90% of students from various countries will start their classes online. We talked with the IPP teachers and students about the structure and content of their courses, and the difficulties students face in mastering the Russian language and immersing themselves in Russian culture.

HSE University to Offer English Preparatory Programme in Economics

The English Preparatory Programme in Economics is designed to prepare students for degree-level study in the field of Economics at the International College of Economics and Finance, as well as other HSE University schools. Alexander Deev, HSE Director of International Admissions, spoke with the HSE News Service about the admissions requirements and the study trajectories of the course.

Learn Russian Online

The HSE Centre for International Preparatory Programmes is launching an intensive online course of Russian as a Foreign Language. The course will start on October 1, 2020 and will be part of a blended preparatory programme that aims to help international students gain proficiency in Russian so that they can enrol in Russian-taught undergraduate and graduate programmes. Registration for the course is already open.

Russian Language Unites: HSE Students Come Together for Online Classes While in Self-Isolation

Elena Aisakova teaches Russian to students of International Preparatory Programmes. Her five groups have all transitioned to distance learning. HSE News Service has asked Elena and HSE's international students what it’s like to study Russian online as well as what tips they have to help others learn effectively while being on ‘opposite sides’ of the computer screen.

HSE International Preparatory Programmes Kick off New Year

On November, 22, HSE’s International Preparatory Programmes (IPP) kicked off a new school year with a Welcome Day event. Students were greeted by IPP Director Alexandra Nazarchuk before taking the stage themselves to give short presentations about their home countries. HSE News Service spoke with students of the programme about their classes, living in Moscow, and what they plan do to after they compete the programme.

International Students Successfully Complete HSE Preparatory Programme

On July 18, graduates of HSE’s International Preparatory Programmes had much to celebrate. For many, the day not only marked the last day of a rigorous programme, but the beginning of their next step in their education journey: enrolling in bachelor’s and master’s programmes at HSE University. Students and their instructors celebrated the occasion with a festive graduation party that included awards, poster presentations, cake for all, and even a Russian folk music performance.

International Students Explore Russian Literature in HSE’s Preparatory Year Programme

HSE’s Preparatory Year Programme for international students includes not only intensive Russian language training but also subject specific courses. One such course is ‘Russian Literature’, which introduces international students to classic works by Russian writers such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov. In the course, students read and discuss select texts in the original Russian, which helps them gain a better understanding of the Russian culture and history.

‘I'll Definitely Be Here for the New Year’

On December 20, the students of the International Preparatory Year programme at HSE’s Moscow campus got together to usher in the New Year in true Russian style. They all first arrived in Moscow this September with zero or very limited knowledge of Russian. So, their programme started with an intensive course of Russian as a Foreign Language. Now, three months later, they have already mastered enough Russian to make mini-presentations, perform sketches, take part in a Russian culture quiz, and solve Russian riddles.

New Russian Courses at HSE Nizhny Novgorod

This year, HSE Nizhny Novgorod is launching two programmes of Russian as a foreign language. Course participants will be eligible for tuition-fee discounts on HSE's full-degree programmes.