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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsNewsOn Campus'Love of Language Draws Student to Moscow'

'Love of Language Draws Student to Moscow'

For the past semester, Alis Endres, an undergraduate student in Business and Economics from Germany, has been studying at HSE in the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs. As she completes her semester, Alis talks about what brought her to Russia, her experience in Moscow and her plans for the future.

The trigger for coming to Moscow was me starting to learn Russian. My sister and I joined a language course (because she wanted to, but didn’t want to go alone) and from the first moment, I fell in love with the Russian language. It’s challenging, but fascinating.

I chose a university in Germany where I could continue Russian classes and spend a semester abroad, because the best way to learn a language is of course to live in the country where it is spoken. In the end, I chose Moscow because HSE was the first to respond to my questions and my application.

From the very beginning it was clear that I would spend a semester in Russia, and my family was fine with it. I got a lot of comments from people regarding the current political situation, but in general, people didn’t question my decision.

Settling in

My first impression was a lot different than my expectations, but maybe that’s a good thing, because people in Germany – at least those that I know – have a kind of a dark picture of Russia. What I got instead was 25°C in September, sunshine and a very friendly buddy who helped me find the dormitory. Adapting to life in Moscow was not as hard as I had imagined it would be, and it took me only two or three weeks to find a routine.

At first, language was a big barrier. I was expecting more people to speak English. But somehow, things worked out, even if it was with a lot of pointing and gesturing. My Russian was very basic at first and is still not enough for difficult conversations. But after four months, I’m feeling very comfortable around Russians. Communication with other students at HSE was never really a problem. Since all my classes were in English, people there spoke English. And in general, if international students had questions, Russian students were always a big help.

I also joined a historical dancing school, really enjoy going there and met some incredibly nice people! It is also the only time during the week that I am actually forced to speak and understand Russian, which is really helpful.

Life in Moscow

I have been to many of Moscow’s parks and love them all – Gorky Park, Sokolniki, Tsaritsino, VDNKh, even Elk Island – but my favourite is Kolomenskoye. I just love to go there for a walk. It was especially pretty in autumn, when everything smelled of apples.

I lived in a dormitory (Dorm 4 at Studencheskaya ulitsa), and again, I was pleasantly surprised. I have heard a lot of horror stories concerning both German and Russian dormitories, but none of them came true.

It is sometimes hard to share a room and to be around so many people because there is no privacy, but at the same time, it is hard to be homesick if there are so many people to talk to. The only disappointing thing was that there were almost no Russians in the dormitory, only international students. It is hard to improve your Russian if the only language spoken is English.

Future plans

I most definitely want to return to Moscow. I have made some very dear friends here, and I still want to improve my Russian. Since I have to do an internship as part of my study programme, I will try and find something in Moscow. If things work out as I hope, I will come back to Moscow next year.

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