‘HSE Is Like Hogwarts for Me — I Couldn’t Imagine I’d End up Here Someday’
Kamola Talipova from Tashkent has been living in Russia for the past five years. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at HSE University – St. Petersburg and is now pursuing a Master’s degree at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the HSE Moscow campus. Kamola spoke with HSE News Service about St. Petersburg and Moscow, the admissions process, and studying online.
To Moscow via St. Petersburg
Personally, I have always associated Russia with quality education. I studied at a Russian school when I lived in Iran (my parents temporarily lived there because of work), and then in Tashkent I also attended a Russian school. I think this greatly influenced me. I learned about HSE at the Lyceum, when our teacher happily mentioned that a former students of hers had been accepted to HSE. At that time, HSE was something like Hogwarts for me, and I thought that there was no way I would ever end up here. When I was applying for my undergraduate studies, I chose the St. Petersburg campus, since my close friend had moved to St. Petersburg. It seemed to me that this was the ideal city for me (and I was not mistaken — I met my best friends and had wonderful teachers there). During my studies, I got the opportunity to study abroad on an academic mobility programme. Then came the wonderful 2020, which was also my last year in my undergraduate programme. I applied for Master’s programmes at two HSE campuses — Moscow and St. Petersburg.
I wanted to study in the capital. I thought it would be interesting to see how academics are different between the two campuses. In addition, I knew that Asian studies in Moscow is very strong. Plus, I needed a change and wanted to get out of my comfort zone. Now I am a first-year student in the Master’s programme ‘Socioeconomic and Political Development of Modern Asia’ in Moscow.
The admission process was both simple and complicated. It was hard waiting to find out if I got in or not. I was really worried that I wouldn’t get in. In terms of the technical side of it, everything was straightforward: the main thing is to carefully enter in your information in your personal account.
The admissions campaign for international students at HSE is well-organized. Employees respond quickly to emails and always try to help.
When I was just starting to choose a university, it was not difficult for me to find all the information I needed on the HSE website. Also, the international student group pages on social media helped a lot — there, other students share their own experiences with the application process and getting in.
At first, of course, I was shocked by the pace of life here and how spread out the city is. It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in an environment where I always have to be running somewhere and hurrying. And staying in self-isolation at home has returned me to my former ‘lazy cat’ state.
My phone was constantly dying because I had Yandex.Maps running all the time. My advice for HSE applicants: get a portable charger in advance
Tashkent is a very small city, and, although St. Petersburg is bigger, it has also become something of a hometown for me, especially since I often went on hikes in the Leningrad region and always tried to explore the city. Moscow is huge. The most difficult thing for me turned out to be the metro, where I had to understand the lines and transfers while trying not to knock other passengers off their feet.
I am glad that I’ve been able to meet up with friends from Tashkent, whom I hadn’t seen for a long time. Good family friends really helped me get used to my new life: I tried not to be alone all the time. In Moscow, for example, I went to a dog shelter for the first time in my life with the wonderful people from ESN (be sure to look for adaptation groups for foreign students in advance, they will be very helpful).
When adapting, the main thing is to listen to yourself and not be afraid to ask questions and get to know people
I am an introvert, but I managed to overcome my fears; I think other international students can do this, too.
When our classes were moved online, at first I stayed in Moscow, but closer to the New Year I decided to go to St. Petersburg, to my family. In this regard, unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. I know many foreign students who were left alone in the big city. Our remote classes are pretty well organized: we do a lot of presentations, listen to lectures and discuss articles over Zoom. That is, active work continues. For example, my supervisor organizes conferences every two weeks where we discuss the work we’ve done, which keeps us on our toes. But despite all this, I really want to return to full-time study, because I am still an old-fashioned student who enjoys face-to-face interaction and the opportunity to buy a cup of coffee between classes. When you study in person, you waste time on commuting, get distracted, let your brain reboot. I still find it difficult to separate study and leisure while at home — and sometimes I have to force myself to turn off my laptop and phone to give my eyes a rest.
Advantages of HSE for International Students
I like the trusting relationship that is being built between HSE University and international students who come to Russia for the first time. Without this it would be much more difficult. For example, important migration issues were much easier to solve here, at the university. No one is rude, as it sometimes happens with other organizations. HSE employs very responsible people who you can trust.
HSE has brought together a friendly community from different parts of the world. There are excellent teachers and students who inspire you to develop, learn, and learn new things. There are many opportunities to achieve your goals. When you study, you understand that a lot depends on your efforts and your desire to develop yourself. You don't have to worry about what others think of you — you just become yourself.
I understand how difficult it is for a foreign student to adapt to life in a new country and to a new team. I spent a year or even two on this: I had to made certain changes in myself. Everyone seemed both friendly and like strangers at the same time. At such moments, the main thing is to remember that this is just a difficult period. It needs to be overcome, and people will definitely help you.
HSE University welcomes applicants from across the globe. You can choose from a number of online and offline programmes instructed either in English or in Russian. International students can apply for a Bachelor or Master’s programme by taking part in a separate admission competition and be awarded a full-tuition or partial scholarships.
If you apply for a Bachelor’s programme, including five of the eight Moscow-based English-taught undergraduate programmes, the results of your international exams in English and Mathematics can be recognized, including IELTS, TOEFL, A-Level, and other international examinations.
Bachelor applicants can take a MOCK test from home for an immediate self-assessment. Master applicants can have an online application interview and a preliminary assessment of their portfolio.
The HSE Education and Training Advisory Centre will be happy to consult applicants and their parents by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone: +7 495 531 00 59, WhatsApp: +7 916 311 85 21, or on social media in Russian or English: VK, Facebook, Telegram, and Instagram.