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‘One of the Biggest Advantages of HSE University Is Its Multi-cultural And International Environment’

‘One of the Biggest Advantages of HSE University Is Its Multi-cultural And International Environment’

© HSE University

Parisa Esmaeilkhani, from Iran, and Anshuman Sharma, from India, are currently studying in HSE University’s English-taught Master’s programmes. In an interview with HSE News Service, they talked about enrolling at HSE University, discovering Moscow, learning Russian, exploring the opportunities HSE University offers, and studying remotely during the pandemic.

Parisa Esmaeilkhani, Strategic Corporate Finance

I learned about HSE from 'Study in Russia'. The user-friendly website of HSE University motivated me to learn more about the university and the Strategic Corporate Finance programme. The good thing was that all the information, even the updated syllabuses, was available on the SCF webpage for easy reference. The process of applying was very smooth and quick, except for the waiting period of one month to get the invitation letter for the visa.

I was lucky to find very good friends at HSE University, both in the university and at the dormitory, with whom I am still in touch even though we are far apart due to travel restrictions. I had to come back home to Tehran due to COVID-related lockdowns and am waiting for travel restrictions to ease so that I can go back to Russia and attend classes in person.

One of the biggest advantages of HSE is its multi-cultural and international environment which helped in connecting with people from different countries with various backgrounds. Teachers and staff of HSE are very supportive and welcoming. I always feel comfortable writing to our study and international offices for any general guidance. I would like to take this opportunity and thank all of them, specifically Oxana Budjko, who always has a solution for any issue or difficulty I faced.

I have also created a full video about how I got to know about HSE and applied for SCF.

Parisa Esmaeilkhani: My Personal Story of "How I Got to HSE"

I have the privilege to work with Professor Irina Ivashkovskaya, the head of the School of Finance and Corporate Finance Center, where I intern. Talking about my research interests, my thesis is about CEO’s and Board of Directors’ characteristic biases and their effect on company performance. Given the urge to move to digital platforms as a result of the pandemic, I am also interested to study how managers with such biases react to the need for digitalization in companies.

The first weeks of studying online in February-March 2020 were not so satisfying but after a few weeks both the students and teachers got used to this new way of teaching and found it much easier to approach. My initial fear was the Econometrics seminar, but Anna Gladysheva, our tutor, smartly used whiteboard and her problem solving and creativity were really inspiring.

I also took Academic Writing in Russian, taught by Anna Leontieva, as an elective (MAGOLEGO), which seemed not so attractive to students who are studying in English at first glimpse but it was full of entertainment and creativity for learning the language. My Russian language was good enough before I came to Russia. Actually, knowing Russian and aiming at enhancing it was one of my reasons for coming to Russia. I also received my certificate for Первый сертификационный уровень (ТРКИ-I/В1) from Pushkin State Russian Language Institute.

What I learned from the pandemic is that we don’t have control over everything

Thus, I changed my approach toward planning from micro planning to being more flexible with a more high-level plan. Over the next few years, I would like to round out my corporate finance experience with exposure to other areas of finance, even possibly investment and business.

Parisa Esmaeilkhani
Photo courtesy of Parisa Esmaeilkhani

Even more importantly, I aim to learn about other areas of business—particularly strategy. Doing so will help me become a well-rounded manager who understands all the inner structures and layers of an organization. My goal is to become CFO of a large group of company, in the short term I know that the best way is to grow professionally is not to miss any learning opportunity. Studying at HSE in SCF programme is helping me do that.

I found Moscow to be a lively city, full of activities and historical places to visit, shopping and sightseeing which never made me go bored

In Moscow there is always some exhibition, ballet, theatre, museum, or a place to go to entertain yourself and learn more about the culture as well as history. Walking around the city center with friends was one of my favorite activities.

Additionally, I was fascinated with architecture of the metro stations in Moscow, which made me create a photo album of the stations I visited to revisit my memories anytime. Reading Moscow Metro map and its overall public transportation system was the hardest at first. I used to start early from my place not to get lost with the metro system. My love for travel made me overcome this obstacle, I can now say that it’s very easy to move around Moscow.

Anshuman Sharma, Population and Development

I have been living in Delhi for some time and Delhi, being the capital city, is a boiling pot of national and international culture. A couple years earlier I went to the Russian cultural Сentre in Delhi for a film screening. There I came to know about HSE University. At that moment, I didn’t pay attention to that information but later it turned out to be valuable.

My research interest is reducing wage income inequality. It is closely related to the demographics and developmental aspects. I’m intrigued by income distribution and social structures and want to dive deeper to know their correlation. This interest grew over past years and that’s when I thought of quitting my job to do research. And that is when the information I got about HSE University at Russian Cultural Centre in Delhi came in handy.

The application process was straightforward. I wrote a direct email to the programme office I wanted to apply to. I was then asked to send a motivation letter, an essay and a few documents for review.

It all took a couple of weeks and I got a positive response. I was told that each programme has a different procedure, but for mine it was this easy. Since I was working back then, gathering all my documents, all the diplomas and certificates like medical fitness, HIV certificate seemed tedious but it didn’t take much time.

I started studying at HSE, Moscow in September 2020 and got the chance to come to Moscow in March 2021 when Indo-Russia border restrictions were eased. Our classes are still online, so most of the communication is in virtual mode. That doesn’t stop us from being in touch on WhatsApp or via e-mails. Initially, I had problems in getting replies to my emails from my academic supervisor but now it is quick and prompt, like we are talking in person.

Anshuman Sharma
Photo courtesy of Anshuman Sharma

Demography was a new subject to me and I found lectures by Professor Nikolai Botev to be eye openers. He blended his practical, on the job experience with theory and it was heart breaking when he said ‘People, today is my last lecture with you.’

The good thing at HSE University is that you can approach any faculty member

This gave me opportunity to interact with extraordinary people like Vladimir E. Gimpelson who to me is an omniscient personality in labour economics. Right now I’m working with Ksenia Abanokova who is Vladimir Gimpelson’s associate and is affiliated with Institute of Social Policy at HSE University.

It is strange when I look back in retrospect at my life from an accountant overloaded with work to studying at HSE, writing essays and term papers. At this point, I feel things just happen and the thrill is not to go into the cause of why they happen but be glad that they so happened. I take life as it comes by, with a hope to become better in what I’m doing.

Outside the classroom, there are numerous ways to socialize at HSE University

I had the opportunity to start e-magazine for international students, Мечта (‘Mechta’ meaning dream in Russian). I am also lucky to be a part of student association which helps me meet new faces and organize events, like recently we organized a live stand-up comedy show on campus.

Knowing Russian is a necessity if you wish to embrace Russia and its culture and to find work opportunities as well. I’ve been learning Russian for a few months now and I find it fun. It is quite uncanny in this digital world but I love writing by hand the cursive Cyrillic style.

I even found innovative ways to learn Russian

Like, right now, I can help you learn 10 Russian words without any effort. Take these English words and substitute the first alphabet “H” with “G” and it becomes a Russian word - Holland, Harmony, Himalaya, Hammock, Hyper, Harpoon, Harmonica, Herpes, Hitler, Horizontal. See!

I have no sense of insecurity in asking for help and it has helped me with traveling around or moving to new places. Being an Indian, I feel a subtle people-to-people connection between Indians and Russians. Sometimes I am greeted with Namaste by strangers on the streets of Moscow.

What I like most about Moscow are its parks. Those gigantic and marvelous parks never cease to amaze me. I once spotted wild foxes in one of the parks. These huge parks inside a city are a beautiful example of harmony of humans and nature.

Apply for HSE University’s Master’s programmes until August 10, 2021

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.

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. The staff are happy to advise applicants and their parents via e-mail at inter@hse.ru, by phone +7 (495) 531 00 59, or WhatsApp +7 (916) 311 85 21, as well as on social media in Russian and in English: Vkontakte, Facebook, Telegram and Instagram.