Useful Tips for International Students from HSE Faculty
HSE News Service has asked some of our teachers at HSE for any advice they might have for international students in Moscow. Arkaja Chakraverty and Renira Rampazzo Gambarato agreed to share their secrets. Ms Chakraverty, from India, is Assistant Professor at the International College of Economics and Finance and moved to Moscow in 2017. Dr Bambarato, from Brazil, is Assistant Professor at the Department of Media, Faculty of Communications, Media and Design and has been working at HSE since 2013.
My number one tip is to learn the Cyrillic alphabet before arriving. Even if you do not speak any Russian, being able to read things written in the Cyrillic alphabet will help you to get around, for instance, in identifying the names of streets and stations. At least, it was very useful for me when I arrived in Moscow.
Apart from getting your winter jackets and boots ready, I recommend checking the HSE website to get a glimpse of how the department you are going to join is organized, which programs and courses are available, and who the professors are and what they do. This way, you will be able to get more out of your experience.
The best way to understand HSE traditions and ethics and to make the most of the different opportunities at our university is to talk to students and teachers. If you send an e-mail asking something, you might not get an answer, but talking directly or by phone normally works well.
I don't want to be controversial, but I really love and recommend the recent movies from Andrey Zvyagintsev Leviathan and Loveless. They give a critical perspective on Russian society and are cinema masterpieces. In addition to all the Russian literature classics (Anna Karenina being the number one for me), I suggest the book Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by the Nobel Prize for Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich, which is a relevant exercise on literature as history.
It’s a good idea to learn how to read and to learn the basics of the Russian language. One can build on that while being here. Get the Google Translator app, and add Russian as one of your keyboard languages. It’s extremely handy in getting your message across.
One strong recommendation – interact with as many people as you can. Not only can one learn about numerous cultural nuances, but one can also learn about different perspectives and you can figure out what works best for you. I have noticed that the younger generations tend to speak decent English, more often than not, and are helpful to foreigners.
Find out about extra-curricular activities you might be interested in pursuing. Moscow has a lot to offer. It helps to settle in the city. Researching such places before coming here will be helpful. If possible, talk to a senior international student. They can identify with your situation!