Korean Students in Moscow: Understanding Modern Russia
From July 4 to 25, the HSE Summer University welcomed thirty Korean students from the Seoul National University who had come to study Russian and learn more about modern life in Russia as part of SNU’s programme in Moscow.
The large size of the group is the result of HSE’s four-year cooperation with the Seoul National University. ‘In late 2014, we signed a partnership agreement between the two universities’, says Vera Anikina, Head of the Department of Oriental Philology. ‘The SNU is the leading university in Korea. The system of selecting partner universities at SNU is complex and multi-stage, so we prepared multiple documents with our colleagues in order to finalize our partnership’.
Last summer, the HSE Summer University hosted nine students from one of Korea’s leading universities – The Seoul National University of Science and Technology. At that time HSE had begun negotiations with colleagues from Seoul National University during their official visit to HSE, says Oksana Chernenko, Director of the HSE Summer University. The result was achieved only this summer in 2015, when the group of students came to take part in two general courses – ‘Understanding Modern Russia’ and a course on Russian language.
All lectures within the first programme were delivered by the professors who teach within the Summer University programme. For example, Professor Iliya Kiriya teaches ‘Media Culture and Society’, during which he gave a lecture on the ‘Contemporary Media Landscape’. Professor Maxim Bratersky lectured on politics during the course ‘Russia in the Changing World’.
It was very important to arrange this programme for the Summer University not only in terms of promoting HSE but also in order to involve both universities in more active contact about student exchange programmes
Professor Eunji Song, the programme’s coordinator, admits that she was quite impressed by these special lectures and HSE as a whole. ‘The professors prepared really well, and the lectures were very well organized. The faculty members shared a number of different perspectives. My favourite lecture was ‘Understanding Russian Economy’ by Professor Vladimir Zuev, who has considerable life experience and many stories to tell. As a professor, I also liked ‘A Brief History of Russian Modernity’ by Professor Sergei Medvedev, but for the students I think the lecture on economics was the best’, says Professor Song.
The second course was on the Russian language, which had five groups of students with different skill levels. Professor Song spoke highly of the lecturers who were very eager to help the students. ‘They were really accommodating. HSE teachers ease students’ tensions really well. This was the first time these students have come to Moscow, to Russia, and they really felt at ease. The teachers here are very kind and understanding’.
During their stay in Moscow, SNU students received assistance from HSE buddies, who were mostly students from the School of Asian Studies; for these students, it was a great chance to practice their Korean skills and be involved in Korean culture. ‘We can proudly say that we raised a generation of professionals in Korean studies, who know the language and the country. They made the programme more lively by entertaining our guests with different excursions and activities’, said Anikina.
No one can speak louder than the students themselves. They are the engine of promotion for the university. Such events have a long-lasting effect. I believe that such activities as the Summer University are strategically important for the promotion of our university abroad
Head of the Department of Oriental Philology
Oksana Chernenko says that it was very important to arrange this programme for the Summer University not only in terms of promoting HSE but also in order to involve both universities in more active contact about student exchange programmes. ‘Some of students might be interested in our Master’s programmes delivered in English or even in English and Russian, as some Korean students have very good knowledge of Russian and are interested in Russian literature and Russian history. For us, it’s very important to have a truly international summer university student cohort’ she says.
Professor Song shared her plans for collaboration with HSE. During her stay, she talked to HSE linguistics professors, and they discussed future academic and research cooperation between departments or faculty members. ‘This is the most desirable way to get closer to each other, because it’s the best way to get to know each other’s’ projects, research materials and other things. I hope that we have many ways to cooperate with each other’, says Professor Song.
Vera Anikina also emphasized the importance of such events. ‘No one can speak louder than the students themselves. They are the engine of promotion for the university. Such events have a long-lasting effect. Soon today’s students will be experts and they can recommend study at HSE not only to their peers, but also to the children of their colleagues, and perhaps to their students. I believe that such activities as the Summer University are strategically important for the promotion of our university abroad’.
Korean students share their impressions of the Summer University:
Ah Rim Kim, 21
I’m in the second year at my university. The reason I joined this programme is because I’m interested in Russian and in Asian history. My first image of Russia was tall and gloomy citizens because the media in Korea receive a lot of influence from the Western media. Moscow is not as dangerous as my parents had worried. In contrast, there are so many people from other countries and they are so kind. I am studying Russian here; it’s a bit hard for me, but my classes are very useful and my teachers are so nice. The most fascinating lecture was about Russian politics; it was very fresh. The lecture gave us a different perspective on Russia, the Ukraine crisis, as well as relations between western Europe, the US and Russia. My expectation of this summer school is to learn Russian and improve my skills.
Kiuk Kim, 23
In Korea, I took an intermediate Russian course and I decided to join this programme. As for the lectures, I really like them. The professors are very effective and are really good at teaching foreign students. I was really impressed with how they teach us. I spend my free time sightseeing, as well as visiting local restaurants.
Lee Kyung Ko, 21
I became interested in Russia and heard that my university has a summer programme to travel here to study language; since I had no plans for the summer, I decided to come. I actually had some stereotypes before I came to this country. For example, that Russia is not so kind and that there are barriers for tourists and foreigners. However, I now see that people are very kind, and I have a good impression of this country.
Prepared by Ekaterina Solovova, HSE News Service and Alexandra Sokolova (3rd-year student on International Relations bachelors’ programme), online student magazine Read Square
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