HSE Students Introduce Foreigners to Moscow
In early September, the HSE held a series of tours in English prepared by cultural studies students as part of an adaptation programme for international students. The preparation of the tours was led by the Office for Internationalisation. The programme’s main purpose is to get foreign students and staff involved in the social and creative life of the university, and to introduce them to the city’s landmarks.
Six students from the Cultural Studies programme, who used this project as their summer practical, designed and conducted 12 tours on foot, including a general tour of the city and walks through the alleyways and back-streets of Kitay-Gorod, Zamoskvorechye, Chistye Prudy and VDNKh. Over 100 foreign students and several international specialists working at the university took part.
‘From the very beginning, the International Student Support Unit, which oversaw our programme, gave us complete freedom in selecting tour themes and formats,’ said the project’s leader, third-year Cultural Studies student Maria Figura. ‘We did our best to choose what we thought were the most interesting landmarks and routes and combine them. Apart from the content itself, we also discussed what methods and techniques a tour guide should use. After that, everyone involved in the project took a route each and worked on preparing the actual English-language texts. Later, we set up a ‘rehearsal’, some dry runs of the tours.’
Maria says that she had no previous experience of conducting tours, never mind in a foreign language. It was a little frightening at first, but the audience turned out to be quite friendly. ‘I think one of the most memorable times was the tour for international specialists. It was a fairly small group, and we ended up with a very warm atmosphere. We exchanged opinions, we laughed, and the tour stopped being a monologue and became an interesting dialogue.’
‘I’ve been on a general tour of Moscow before, two years ago, but I liked this one more,’ Bruno Bauwens (Belgium), Assistant Professor at the Computer Science Department told us. ‘It turned out to be richer and more varied, including art, history and useful information about contemporary Moscow.’ Exchange student Finn Corrigan (Britain) agrees: ‘Walking tours are an excellent way to discover a city, and it’s great that these tours were conducted by local students.’
The project’s authors intend to conduct their tried-and-tested tours for the rest of the year. They are also planning to develop new routes and experiment with the formats, such as adding quests, competitive challenges or video tours. There will be fewer street tours during the winter, and they will be replaced with other activities such as museum trips.