'I’ve Got the Tools to Make Friends with Russians'
Juan Sota is from Madrid. He finished school in Spain and came to Russia to study at the Pre-University Training Faculty hoping to progress to a degree course at the School of History at HSE.
The HSE Preparatory Year for Bachelor’s programmes includes courses in four subjects according to the chosen profile and helps students prepare for entrance exams at HSE. The programme begins with Russian language training courses and gradually students begin to study in Russian in their specific subject areas.
A week ago Juan found out that he’d been offered a grant to study at the School of History at HSE. Now he’s preparing all the documents he needs for enrollment.
HSE English News asked Juan to talk about his experience of the Preparatory Year programme.
— What is your impression of the programme?
— It’s has been a great experience to study this year in the Higher School of Economics! After finishing my course I feel very grateful firstly to my teachers, that have made my objectives possible this year: to acquire a high enough level of Russian to enter a Russian taught degree and to make an approach to Russian culture. Recently I’ve been admitted by the Higher School of Economics to the School of History in Russian language and I’ve been selected to receive a scholarship for my studies with the quota programme. Thanks to the Preparatory Faculty I've spent a nice first year in Russia, in company of other students on the programme, from many different countries: another richness of this course.
— What was the reason you've decided to choose it?
— I decided to take that programme because a friend of mine recommended the Higher School of Economics to me as a serious university, and after the programme I wanted to enter it. So, I thought that the same university will be the best option to prepare me for my future education with them...
— Did it meet your expectations?
— As I’ve already said, the programme fulfilled my expectations giving me what I consider a complete preparation, when speaking about Russian language. In addition, the teachers were always kind and correct with me and I could always ask them for help no matter what the subject: Russian or just bureaucracy, or even cultural or tourist’s questions.
The teachers were always kind and correct with me and I could always ask them for help no matter what the subject: Russian or just bureaucracy, or even cultural or tourist’s questions.
— What was the most challenging thing in your studies?
— Of course I have met some difficulties on my way to admission into university: to acquire the enough Russian in 8 months was a big challenge. Nevertheless, I really like the Russian language and it made me work harder having a clear objective. It’s obvious that some days you really think you don’t know anything, and that you will never learn the language... How can I pronounce correctly sounds such as 'Ы', 'Щ', 'Ж', 'Ш'?! Or, how can I realise the difference between adding 'Ь' or not adding it?! Now I cannot say that all that has completely passed (I still have to work on it), but on the other hand I can manage by myself in Russian.
— How do you feel in the streets of Moscow after the Russian courses?
— How I feel walking on the streets of Moscow? It’s something that has really changed during this time. At first I really found myself out of context if someone asked me how to go to some place, or what time it is... Now I feel that I’m in some way one more person, walking around on the streets of Moscow and not just a common tourist... Now I feel Moscow more as 'my city', and not only as the city of the Russians, and I can look at them knowing something about how they really are, and not just painting them with stereotypes. And the most important, I’ve got the tools to make friends with them, sharing the same language and, at least a small part of their culture. This fact makes me feel closer to the people I see every day in street around me.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service
Karla Sofía Torres Pesquera is an exchange student from ITAM, Mexico City. She is spending one semester at HSE University, from January to June. She has talked to HSE News Service about the courses she is taking this semester and also described her life at the HSE dorm.
The HSE Centre for International Preparatory Programmes is launching an intensive online course of Russian as a Foreign Language. The course will start on October 1, 2020 and will be part of a blended preparatory programme that aims to help international students gain proficiency in Russian so that they can enrol in Russian-taught undergraduate and graduate programmes. Registration for the course is already open.
Elena Aisakova teaches Russian to students of International Preparatory Programmes. Her five groups have all transitioned to distance learning. HSE News Service has asked Elena and HSE's international students what it’s like to study Russian online as well as what tips they have to help others learn effectively while being on ‘opposite sides’ of the computer screen.
HSE’s Preparatory Year Programme for international students includes not only intensive Russian language training but also subject specific courses. One such course is ‘Russian Literature’, which introduces international students to classic works by Russian writers such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov. In the course, students read and discuss select texts in the original Russian, which helps them gain a better understanding of the Russian culture and history.
Do you have some knowledge of Russian but want to hone your skills and speak like a ‘real Russian’? If so, faculty members and instructors of the HSE School of Linguistics have worked together to create a free online resource just for you. Как скажешь (‘If You Say So’), which will launch April 4, is a virtual textbook and workbook built around video clips that feature HSE faculty and students.
HSE Preparatory Year students not only learn Russian and get ready to enroll in Bachelor’s or Master’s programmes but also explore Russian culture and way of life, which includes trying the local cuisine, sightseeing, and interacting with Russian people. Three international Prep Year students have talked to HSE News Service about learning the language, getting used to living in Moscow, and joining in New Year celebrations in Russia.
On December 20, the students of the International Preparatory Year programme at HSE’s Moscow campus got together to usher in the New Year in true Russian style. They all first arrived in Moscow this September with zero or very limited knowledge of Russian. So, their programme started with an intensive course of Russian as a Foreign Language. Now, three months later, they have already mastered enough Russian to make mini-presentations, perform sketches, take part in a Russian culture quiz, and solve Russian riddles.
Dr Anna Whittington is currently a Research Fellow at The International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences through the end of August 2019. She recently spoke with the HSE News Service about her work on changes in Soviet-era language policy, her thoughts on life in Moscow and how the city has changed, and much more.
'In fact, the Russian language is very logical and my task is to disclose this to my students', says Alevtina Iagodova who has been teaching Russian for over 20 years. At HSE University – St. Petersburg she gives Russian classes to exchange students, organizes a language club, and promotes the Russian culture awareness among foreigners. Recently, she has been invited by the University of Indonesia to lead a workshop in order to share her knowledge and experience of teaching Russian as a foreign language with the local colleagues.
Having fallen in love with Moscow and the Russian culture during an exchange programme three years ago at HSE, Alis Maria Endres, a native of Germany, decided that she wanted to return to the university to complete a Master’s degree in management. In order to be able to study in Russian, Alis Maria first enrolled in HSE's International Preparatory Year programme.