• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

‘A High Concentration of Intercultural Communications’

The team of the HSE International Preparatory Year said goodbye to its students at a graduation party that took place at the HSE Cultural Centre. 197 students from 58 countries graduated from the programme this year. They learned Russian and profile subjects in Russian, which has helped over 100 of them to enrol in degree programmes at HSE University.

Graduates of the HSE International Preparatory Year are proof that it is possible to become proficient in Russian within a year—the ceremony was hosted by international students speaking Russian. The programmes start with an intensive compulsory course of Russian as a Foreign Language, after which students take courses in general subjects in three academic tracks: Humanities, Economics, and Engineering and Technology. 

A Huge Advantage

This year’s graduation party was a special event for the International Preparatory Year: it was the first one since the pandemic (the last similar party took place in 2019). Alexandra Nazarchuk, Director of the Programme, addressed the graduates: ‘You’ve managed to deal with Russian grammar and math, you’ve met new friends and got to know Moscow.’

Natalya Nikitskaya, Branko Vuchkovich, and Alexandra Nazarchuk
© HSE University

Ivan Prostakov, HSE University Vice Rector, emphasised that the graduates had to deal not only with grammar and math, but with many more difficulties, since they had to study in a foreign country in unusual circumstances. But they had overcome these hardships and made it to the graduation. He thanked the teachers, since working in such a multi-language, multicultural environment requires experience, patience and skills. He addressed the graduates who are going to other universities: ‘Our university remains open to you. Who knows, maybe you will come back for master’s or doctoral studies. We will be happy to see you again.’ To those who are staying at HSE University, he suggested: ‘Become part of university life right away, help the international students who are beginning their studies today, because you have a huge advantage—you already know HSE University and how it works.’

Ivan Prostakov, HSE University Vice Rector
© HSE University

Elena Aysakova, teacher of Russian as a Foreign Language, provided some curious statistics: ‘The year has been long. This means that you have attended over 600 hours of Russian classes; you opened your textbooks several thousand times; you answered the teachers’ questions about 10,000 times; you completed at least 300 homework assignments; you took about 20 tests; you survived and successfully passed 2 exam periods.’ She thanked the students for choosing Russia, for loving the Russian language, for getting to know the Russian culture and choosing to study in Russia.

The graduates immediately provided proof of their love of the language and the culture. Students of group 2112 recorded a video of their recital of Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. Students Zhang Weichi and Wei Haoming from China staged and sung the popular Russian song Milenky Ty Moy (My Sweetheart).

Liu Chen from China and Gilistro Baptiste Michel Patrick from France ‘added some adrenaline’ with performances of a song by iconic Russian rock musician Viktor Tsoy and one from the beloved children’s cartoon Cheburashka. Liu Chen impressed the audience by playing a guitar, while Baptiste performed a solo on wooden spoons.

The mini-concert was followed by an award ceremony, with prizes going to the students who had asked the most questions of teachers; who never hurried, but always did everything on time; who were most eager to get the best results; who visited the most Russian cities; who are best at making friends, and who achieved the best results in the final attestation.

The informal part of the ceremony included cake, folk games, and a balloon release.

Learning Russian: Interesting and Difficult at the Same Time

When the HSE News Service asked a couple of students for interviews, they were confident enough to answer in Russian. Ganjargal Ganbaatar finished high school in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and decided to go to university in Russia. She heard about HSE University from her sister and friends who studied here. She had studied Russian for a year before coming here, and today, she believes she has improved her Russian proficiency a lot: ‘I have learned so many things. Learning Russian is interesting and difficult at the same time.’ She has already enrolled in a Russian-taught Bachelor’s programme in Economics at HSE University.

Ganjargal Ganbaatar

Among the few difficulties she had to face in Russia, Ganjargal mentions extensive paperwork and, particularly, COVID-related bureaucracy: ‘It was difficult for the first few days, because I didn’t speak Russian. Russians speak very fast and look angry, but that is not how they are, it is just a manner of speaking. I was lucky to have a very attentive Russian neighbour in the dorm—she has become a good friend of mine. The dorm is great, with a lot of international students, and we are all friends there.’

Everything seems thrilling here, and particularly HSE University—it is an outstanding university

Since Ganjargal is going to study Economics, her Prep Year studies included Russian as a Foreign Language, Russian for Subject-Specific Purposes, Mathematics, History, and Social Studies. She said that Russian for Subject-Specific Purposes was the hardest: ‘We had to memorise a lot of complicated terms in Russian. Mathematics was also a bit difficult when I could not understand the explanations in Russian. But as my Russian progressed, it got easier.’

She also managed to participate in some extracurricular activities: ‘The Russian Speaking Club at the university was really cool. I met many interesting students and teachers there. It sometimes meets on special occasions, such as New Year, Maslenitsa and other holidays for tea parties and other activities. I also participated in an event called Culture Café organised by HSE University, where I represented Mongolia. We got to know each other’s cultures, traditions and food. The event attracted not only Prep Year students, but international students enrolled in degree programmes at HSE University.’

After she gets her Bachelor’s degree in Economics at HSE University in four years, Ganjargal wants to work in Russia for a few years and then go home to work. She is considering the banking sphere or starting her own business.

HSE University Does Everything to Ensure International Students Feel Comfortable

Natalya Nikitskaya, Teacher of Russian as a Foreign Language at the HSE Preparatory Year

International students can face a variety of difficulties upon arrival in Russia. Those from warmer countries have to adapt to the cold climate. Those who come from small towns have to adapt to the fast pace of life in Moscow. For some, Russian cuisine seems unusual, and they bring groceries from their home countries. But eventually, everyone adapts. Russian is considered a complicated language, so they feel scared about whether they can learn the huge amount of grammar and speak fluently. I believe that a talented teacher seeks an individual approach to each student. As soon as they find it, students understand that Russian is not that difficult: it’s like Lego blocks that make up a structure. When they come here, we teachers are the face of Russia for them—in a way, we are like their parents teaching them to talk. HSE University does everything to ensure that international students feel comfortable in Russia.

I Don’t Feel Like an Alien Here

Branko Vuchkovich from Serbia already had some international experience before coming to Russia. He graduated from Economics Department of Singidunum University in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2017, spent some time working in the United States and China, and then decided to come to Russia: ‘I chose Russia because, I believe, 85% of Serbs love Russia, and each of us wants to come to Russia. I don’t feel like an alien or even a foreigner here. I asked my friends from Russia about the best universities in the country, and they recommended HSE University as the best and most modern one. My friend told me about a scholarship for studies in Russia, and I used this opportunity.’

Branko Vuchkovich

Despite the Prep Year being his first time in Russia, Branko adapted easily: ‘On the first day, I felt like I was in Shanghai. But then, I saw that Moscow is more beautiful than Shanghai, since it is older and there is a lot of nice architecture here. And now, I feel here like I feel in Belgrade. I was born in the west of Serbia, the city of Užice, but studied and worked in Belgrade for almost ten years. The process of my adaptation in Russia took about 15 days.'

I found some grocery shops where I could buy food, learned how to use the metro and how to get to the university, and after that, everything was easy

Branko chose the Prep Year track in Humanities, which included Russian History, Social Studies, Russian Literature, Russian as a Foreign Language, and Russian for Subject-Specific Purposes. He said: ‘Studying was easy for me, because I had learned Russian history, literature and social studies before. Russian for Subject-Specific Purposes was difficult, because there are a lot of complicated words that I am going to use during my master’s studies.’ He also mentions that the only difficulty he has faced in Russia is bureaucracy: ‘Everything else has gone smoothly.’

Branko has already enrolled in a Master’s programme in International Relations that is taught in Russian with several courses in English. While it is hard to make long-term plans in these volatile times, he is optimistic: ‘After graduation from my master’s programme, I would like to stay to work in Moscow. Since a lot of Serbian companies have left Russia, I think I could try to get employed by the Serbian embassy in Moscow.’

Students from Almost Every Continent

Ivan Prostakov, HSE Vice Rector

This year’s course was the first on-campus one since the pandemic. On-site studies are particularly important for the International Preparatory Year, since learning a new language online is difficult. And we are happy that this year’s students have had some very good achievements. The share of Prep Year graduates who will continue their studies in HSE University’s degree programmes is particularly high among students on a Russian Government Scholarship: 82%, the highest for the last three years.

Another special feature of this year’s course is the vast geographical scope of the students. We have welcomed students from almost every continent: China, Vietnam, India, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Sri Lanka in Asia; the United States in North America; Brazil, Honduras, and Ecuador in South America; Egypt, Djibouti, and Eritrea in Africa; Austria, Italy, Ireland, France and Switzerland in Europe, and many others—58 countries is a lot.  This shows that education truly has no borders.

We host a rich, high concentration of intercultural communications.

Another satisfying fact is that students come to HSE University to study in very different programmes. One of our main tasks is to promote the university as a multidisciplinary one. Prep Year graduates have applied to 31 programmes in a variety of fields: not only economics, but also international relations, mathematics, engineering, computer science, linguistics, design, and others. The idea of the Prep Year is to prepare its students for studying in Russian, which helps them to apply for the wide variety of programmes available at HSE University.

Admissions for the Prep Year Basic Course are open until August 15, 2022

Admissions for the Online Basic Course are open until September 25, 2022

See also:

‘Everyone Quickly Engaged in Conversations and Demonstrated Their Creative Thinking’

The online Russian Speaking Club opened only a month ago, but has seen a rapid growth in the number of participants. Every week, the club holds free online meetings where participants and a Russian language tutor discuss various topics related to the Russian language and culture. Below, the club leaders share their impressions and plans, which include going offline.

Russian Speaking Club: Practicing the Language and Meeting New Friends

For HSE Preparatory Year students, the Russian Speaking Club is a way to improve their language proficiency in a relaxed atmosphere. At this year’s first such event, they discussed online communications and social media. Michael Dzodzoe from Ghana and Leen Sabbagh from Syria shared their impressions with the HSE News Service.

‘My Prep Year Experience Has Been Phenomenal; I Would Repeat It All over Again if I Could’

The International Preparatory Year programme held its graduation ceremony in July. This academic year, 125 students from 50 countries were enrolled in the programme. They will continue their studies at Russian universities, most of them pursuing bachelor's and master's programmes at HSE University. The graduation was organised as a quest, where the students were able to demonstrate their achievements in learning the Russian language. Graduates from Ecuador, Syria, and Mexico shared their impressions with the HSE News Service, Deputy Director Polina Shanko talked about plans for the coming year, and mathematics teacher Vladimir Gordin gave his advice to future students.

‘Russia Is a Land of Openness and Possibility’

Lorenzo Trufolo graduated from Bologna University and is studying in the HSE International Preparatory Year ahead of his master’s studies in international trade at HSE University. In his interview, he talks about his studies in Russia, participation in academic conferences and competitions, and the challenges of living in Moscow.

HSE Prep Year Students Present Their Research Papers at International Conference in Tomsk

From April 25 to 27, a scientific student conference was held at Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU). It was attended by international graduate students and postgraduate students from 57 countries, including four students from the HSE Preparatory Year programme. The HSE News Service talked to the conference organisers and participants about their impressions of the event.

‘The 4th International Economics Olympiad—My Journey’

Oghogho Joy Isibor came to HSE University after earning a scholarship from the Faculty of Economic Sciences for her performance in the International Economics Olympiad. She is one of several foreigners to apply via the same competition. Oghogho is currently studying on the HSE University Preparatory Year Programme before starting her Economics degree. Read on to find out about her experience of the Olympiad, adapting to life in Russia, and the challenges of learning Russian for her future studies.

How to Overcome the Language Barrier

The term 'language barrier' refers to any difficulties that arise when speaking a non-native language. Almost every person studying a foreign language has experienced this unpleasant phenomenon. The reasons for this problem include a fear of the unknown, a fear of mistakes, embarrassment because of one's accent, a fear of being misunderstood and much more. All of these problems are a psychological component of the language barrier. In this article, foreign students from different countries share their experiences and help foreign applicants overcome their fears.

Five Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Year at HSE University-St Petersburg

If you are an international student, there is a good chance that there are some things you do not know about the university you applied to. It can be hard to adapt to a new place, new people, and—most importantly—a new educational system. That is why we asked Yesuigen Tsogjavkhlan, 2nd-year student of the Bachelor’s programme ‘Public Policy and Analytics’, to share five things she wishes she had known before coming to HSE University-St Petersburg.

'I Came to Make a Difference'

Yesuigen Tsogjavkhlan, from Mongolia, reflects on her experience as an international student majoring in ‘Public Policy and Analytics’ at HSE University-St Petersburg and shares her story of coming to Russia.

HSE Students Support Phonetics Competition for Chinese Students

The Glinka State Conservatory in Nizhny Novgorod has held a phonetics competition in Russian as a foreign language for Chinese students of the preparatory department. The spectators, jury members, and support team of the competition included HSE University-Nizhny Novgorod students of the Bachelor’s in Foreign Languages and Intercultural Business Communication, Academic Supervisor of the programme Marianna Korenkova, and Chinese language teacher Elena Ammosova. The Chinese students opened the event with performances of famous solo works in Russian.