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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsNewsOn Campus'At HSE, Students in Class Are More Active and Professors Are More Open'

'At HSE, Students in Class Are More Active and Professors Are More Open'

Zhu Ning, from People’s Republic of China, is pursuing her Master's in Socioeconomic and Political Development of Modern Asia at HSE. She is currently in her second year of studies. Zhu Ning has talked to HSE News Service about her experience of studying and living and Moscow.

Before I came here, I had already passed the national post-graduate entrance examination in China. My family expected me to stay in China. To be honest, I never thought about studying or doing research in Russia until my grandpa told me about his experience. Almost every senior  citizen in China who is around my grandpa’s age can speak at least a little Russian, especially people in the government. He showed me the Rubles he kept as souvenirs of his time there in his youth. Since then I have been passionate about this country! I want to see it for myself. So when I got the recommendation from my home university, it was an easy decision to make. Thanks to my previous experience of studying and travelling in Canada, I am not afraid of going aboard, especially since Russia and Canada have similar climates.

 If we view winter in Moscow as adventure, then summer in Moscow is a real treat for foreigners. Tulips grow everywhere; the blue sky seems like a deep ocean; and it is lovely to feel the gentle sunlight on the skin in May

My first week at HSE was quite intense! Due to delays in getting my visa, I only arrived in Moscow in October, meaning I had missed one month study and the last warm month of the year. Ten days after we arrived in Moscow, the temperature plunged to -10 degrees Celsius and it snowed. The worst part was that I had exams to take in two days’ time. The cold weather was way beyond my comfort zone, I was facing exams that I was not prepared for; I wasn’t used to the food… All these obstacles were really stressful. I didn’t have the time to enjoy the beauty of Moscow, the interesting differences in culture and the Russian education style. But the first half month of hard work was totally worth it. After the exam, I accompanied my colleagues on a trip to Moscow’s Red Square and St Petersburg.

If we view winter in Moscow as adventure, then summer in Moscow is a real treat for foreigners. I was really impressed by the summer here. Tulips grow everywhere; the blue sky seems like a deep ocean; and it is lovely to feel the gentle sunlight on my skin in May. 

Teaching and study style at HSE

I got my BA degree in Changzhou city, Jiangsu province, China, which is situated in southern China, near Shanghai. My home university is Changzhou Institute of Technology, an application-oriented university, focused on the combination of knowledge and practice. So in my home university we had a lot of opportunities to do experiments in the economic laboratory, carry out case studies and even volunteer after class. In HSE, because I am studying an MA degree programme, we have more opportunities to attend seminars that invite experts such as businesspeople, scientists and professors from other countries. It is very good for us to voice out our opinions and hear other people’s thoughts and theories. Also, because almost every class starts at 4:40 pm, we are free to arrange our time however suits us.

In HSE we have more opportunities to attend seminars that invite experts such as businesspeople, scientists and professors from other countries. It is very good for us to voice out our opinions and hear other people’s thoughts and theories

In my home university in Changzhou, during classes, professors are rather conservative in style compared to HSE. I think it is because of the traditional teaching style and culture. And in many subjects, professors tend not to want to write on a blackboard. From the perspective of self-study after class, in my home university we depend on our professor more, or in other words, the ratio of knowledge delivered by teachers in classes to self-taught knowledge after class is more like 70:30. And obviously dorms in China are more crowded.

At HSE, students in class are more active and professors are more open. And it is fine to argue with professors politely. Academic conversation and even debate is totally accepted. The ratio of knowledge delivered by teachers in class to self-taught knowledge after class is more like 50:50, sometimes it could even be 40:60.

It is no exaggeration to say that dormitory No.1 in HSE offers the best living conditions in Moscow. I think the school is keen to offer us the best they can. There are fewer than 3 people per room; and we also have a gym, kitchen, canteen, classrooms in the dorm. It is quite comfortable living here.