‘Serious and Honest Attitude to Work Is Exactly What We Need in the Future’
What attracts international students to HSE University? What subjects are easier to study online? What are the biggest challenges for an international student in a Russian-taught programme? HSE News Service spoke with Trang Pham, from Hanoi, who is currently studying at the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs.
Trang Pham was studying the Russian language in a university in Vietnam when she decided to apply to HSE. Now she is a majoring in World Economy and studying completely in Russian.
At first, I wanted to choose a university to study mechanics, but after I heard about HSE and did some research, I decided to choose this school and study economics. I had friends studying here and they told me that this is a suitable place to seriously focus on education as it is challenging for foreign students to keep up with the studies.
The beginning of my studies at HSE was a huge shock for me. I was overwhelmed with homework. I still remember the first lecture I had on Economic History. I did not understand a single word when the lecturer started to speak. It was nothing like the preparatory year. I got used to all those things eventually, but I still had to spend about 14 - 16 hours a day to study, sometimes even more to catch up with the lectures and seminars.
Everything was way more difficult than I had imagined. Not only did I have to re-study what had been taught, but I also had to spend a lot more time than a Russian student to complete any of the tasks given.
The most important thing I learned from HSE is the serious attitude we need to have towards studying.
Although sometimes I feel uncomfortable with the teachers' strictness, in the end, I'm grateful for that. A serious and honest attitude is exactly what we need in the future, not only in our future workplace but also in life in general. Another important thing I learned is working efficiently under pressure. Once I got into the rhythm of things, I was able to manage my time more effectively.
The winter exam session was not easy for me at all. There was so much to revise and there are many subjects. Luckily, I qualified for an automatic pass in several subjects (meaning I didn’t have to take those exams), so the exam week was not too rough. Zoom and Microsoft Teams never gave me any trouble, but Examus did. Examus isn't a very smooth system and it was inconvenient for us to look up to see the text of tasks and then down all over again during the exam period. There was nothing I could change about it, so I just had to try to adapt to it and do the tasks as fast as possible.
I don't have one particular subject as a favourite, but I do enjoy classes in Italian because the teacher is always funny and kind. I like all the teachers for their honesty, especially my Law teacher.
The teachers are very passionate about their subjects, and I'm so grateful that they pay a little more attention to foreign students like us.
My classmates are very nice as well. They never hesitate to help us as. They know that Russian is very difficult and it's hard to follow the lectures. I sometimes talk with my classmates after class, they are just as friendly as I’d hoped they’d be.
My Russian is only good enough for basic communication, so most of the time I discuss homework with my classmates in English. I'm still able to write well in Russian, but my Russian speaking skills are not as good.
Studying Online and Offline
Everything has two sides, and so does studying online. For subjects like Maths, I'd prefer to study them offline as it is easier to focus on solving the tasks. Italian language and Business English are also better when studied offline.
As for subjects that involve many theories such as Law and Economic History, it is better for me to study online, since I can search for information and translate what the teachers says. The most important thing about studying online is that you need to stay focused. In my opinion, as long as you can learn to take advantage of the situation, any form of studying will benefit you one way or another.
Exploring Moscow and Getting a Taste of Russia
I’m staying at HSE Moscow Dorm 4 at the moment. There are so many interesting places in Moscow. I would recommend Moscow City, VDNKh, Gorky Park, Sokolniki, but I would really suggest walking in the city or taking the bus instead of the metro if you have a lot of free time to truly see the beauty of Moscow. You can follow some Instagram accounts such as @i_moskva to learn about interesting places and events in the city.
I tried the Russian borscht once and I loved it I also tried pelmeni (dumplings with meat), but my favorite is bliny (Russian panckaes). They are so simple and easy to cook but at the same time, you can mix and add different flavors. I cooked them a lot when I was still studying in the preparatory programme. It is a good treat at night. I cook for myself a lot, but there were times when I got too busy with assignments so I had to order food. It's very convenient to order food through mobile apps like Yandex or Delivery Club.
To be honest, I had to set my hobbies aside to be able to study well. I used to dance every week but this year I don't have time for that. Instead, I try to relax, sleep, or watch some movies when I have some free time. I also like to cook, and luckily, I still got a little time to learn how to cook some of my favorite Vietnamese dishes.
I do watch some Russian shows and listen to Russian music. I don't have any favorite Russian songs, movies, or books, but last Christmas one of my classmates gave me a book in Russian as a present. It is called Tysyacha and odna noch’ (A Thousand and One Nights), and I think it might become my favorite book soon.
I intend to go back to Vietnam to work after finishing the 5-year programme here. I've been through a lot in Vietnam to be able to gain a scholarship and get the chance to study in Russia. Therefore, I don't want to waste all my hard work and the scholarship from both the Russian and Vietnamese governments. But the most important thing that keeps pushing me forward every day is my own pride and expectations of myself. In my opinion, there is no stronger motivation than that, which lies inside of you, because every step you take prepares you for your future.
HSE University welcomes applicants from all over the world and offers not only different levels of study, but also different formats in English and Russian, online and offline. International applicants can apply for Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes in a separate admissions process for foreign applicants and receive scholarships with full or partial tuition fee coverage.
When applying to a Bachelor’s programme, including five English-taught programmes in Moscow, it is possible to submit international certificates you have received in English and mathematics, such as IELTS, TOEFL, A-Level and other international exams and they will be recognized by HSE University, so taking entrance exams in relevant subjects will not be required.
Undergraduate applicants can test their chances of admission now by taking mock tests. Master’s applicants also have the opportunity to get a preliminary assessment of their portfolio and communicate with their programme of choice online.
There are also ZOOM consulations available for graduate and undergraduate applicants.