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Regular version of the site

Attracted by the Variety of HSE’s Programmes and Students

Alexander Bespalov, a first-year student in the HSE and University of London Parallel Degree Programme in International Relations, was born in Israel to parents who had emigrated from Russia. He recently sat down with the HSE News Service to talk about why he chose to come to Russia for study, the challenges he has overcome, and what he is looking to achieve during his time at HSE.

— Why did you choose Russia for your undergraduate studies? Where did you study before? Is this your first international experience?

— First, I was born to Russian parents who immigrated to Israel in 1990, and I also have relatives living in Moscow. Secondly, in my hometown, we do not have programmes like the one I am studying in now, so I decided that improving my Russian and English alongside getting a double degree is a better idea than staying in Israel. Before that, I served the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) for three years, and prior to that, I studied in the Gymnasia of Tel Aviv.  This is my first international experience in terms of education.

— After several months at HSE Moscow, what are some of your observations and impressions?

— Well, HSE is really welcoming to international students, and the variety of programmes, the staff, and the native students make everything much easier to overcome for international students.

— What are some of your favourite subjects, and why? Have any teachers made a particular impression?

— The most interesting subject is without doubt Regional Studies. The material has widened my knowledge way beyond my initial thoughts about the subject. Furthermore, Andrei Skriba, one of the programme's academic supervisors and a Regional Studies teacher, has exceeded my expectations first because of the variety of ways he delivers the material, and second because he cares personally about students. Overall, his commitment to the programme deserves respect.  

— Have you tried any of the sports clubs at HSE or other leisure opportunities?

— No, I work in addition to studying, so I unfortunately don’t have enough time for those activities.

— What have been some of the lessons learned while living and studying in Moscow? Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

— First, anyone would probably find it hard to overcome the weather and the overall ‘grey’ atmosphere surrounding Moscow, while trying to study well and get used to a new environment, new people, language, etc. I am a man, and when I have a goal to achieve, I switch my brain to ‘extreme mode’, which helps me overcome the cultural shock I might be experiencing much faster and to focus on achieving what I came here to achieve. The interesting part is that after three or four months of doing that, you start to see the real beauty of Moscow and the benefits it provides to one’s personality, because overcoming difficulties here means greater ease back in your home country. So, my advice would be focus on your main goals and be patient.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service 

See also:

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