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'When You Come Here, You Learn to Disassociate Politics from Culture and People'

On August 15, the second HSE Summer University drew to a close. The number of participants in this year's programmer nearly tripled with 103 students coming from 15 countries. This included both independent students as well at five organized groups from Seoul National University, Seoul National University of Science and Technology, Miami University, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.

The students were able to choose up to six classes from various areas including Politics&International Relations, Russian Studies, Economics, and Culture. For the first time ever, courses were also available in computer science, and students were able to go on a weeklong trip to St. Petersburg to take a history class. The students from Seoul National University had their own programme. They took intensive Russian language courses in small groups, as well as a special course called Understanding Modern Russia. Students from Miami University, in addition to the Summer University classes, took courses as part of an intensive 10-week summer school in Russian carried out by the Faculty of Humanities. In addition, the Chinese students were able to take a course by Professor Zuev (Challenges to EU–Russia Economic Links) and by Professor Zakharov (BRICS Countries and the Emerging Global Order). Professor Maslov from the School of Asian Studies also gave a lecture on Chinese culture, which was both unexpected and interesting for our Chinese guests.

Other instructors also took part in the Summer University, including those from the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs; the Faculty of Business and Management; the Faculty of Computer Sсience; the Faculty of Communications, Media and Design; and the Faculty of Humanities.

‘By participating in the Summer University, students are able to acquire new knowledge, work on their Russian, immerse themselves in Russian culture, and learn more about modern Russia, all the while making new friends from different countries. Next year, we are planning to expand the line of history and culture courses, and we might add a new group of classes in mathematics. In addition, there are plans to carry out separate courses not only in St. Petersburg, but at different HSE campuses as well, including Nizhny Novgorod and Perm,’ Summer University director Oksana Chernenko notes.


Lijia Lin, University of Michigan, Economics and Mathematics

I had two reasons for coming to the Summer University. First, I’ve studied Russian for one semester in my university – the Russian language has always amazed me by its word usage. I am very interested in learning Russian, which is a rather difficult language, so I came here to study Russian.

And my second reason was to research master’s programmes in Russia. After I finish my bachelor’s in the U.S. I want to apply to a master’s programme in Economics or Politics in Russia. I feel like Russia is a rising power, so I want to become a specialist in Russian relations. There are no such specialists in China or the U.S. at the moment. I think that if I want to get this knowledge, I need to come to Russia and learn it here.  My situation is very complicated – I am Chinese, but I study in the U.S. so I get information from both sides. In China, Russia is viewed as the most loyal strategic partner, while in the U.S. the media demonizes Russia. I wanted to find out what Russia really looked like, and the same time I wanted to come here to HSE to see how the mater’s programmes are organized and which programme might interest me most.

At the moment I see four interesting programmes – Financial Economics, Applied Economics, Comparative Social Research and Applied Economics & Mathematical Methods – two of them are partially taught in Russian so I will need to improve my Russian. I am thinking of coming to HSE after I graduate this December to take an intensive 6-month Russian as a Foreign Language course. Hopefully, by the end of the programme I will have a sufficient knowledge of Russian.


Shelby Allinder, American University (U.S.), International Relations

I came here on a scholarship from my home university. I haven’t studied abroad before and I am very happy to have had this experience. When I came here I knew only four Russian words, now I know quite a lot. The Russian language course I took during Summer University was fast, intensive and extremely productive. I am not nearly as fearful as I was – I can talk to people in the street now, and I am very glad for the experience. Living in the country you are learning the language a lot better than just learning it at university.  Previously I studied German and I only started learning Russian here despite the fact that I studied Russian Politics and History. I know it sounds odd that I study Russia but don’t speak the language – so coming here was meant to fill that gap. I also took an EU-Russia Relations course, Russia and Non-traditional Security Challenges and Russia-US Relations. I was surprised to learn how important visa policy is and how significant this issue is. I used to think that the biggest issues are anti-ballistic missiles.

I think in America when we think of Russia we don’t ever see the city or the country. But when you come here, you see the architecture, you talk to people and you learn to disassociate politics from culture and people.  I visited many interesting places in Moscow. I was very much impressed with the city.


Amandeus Van Rossum, University College Roosevelt (Netherlands), Political Science

I took six courses. I found most of the courses interesting. I was especially interested in the EU-Russia relations and US-Russia relations. I found out a lot about Russian politics, BRICS countries, etc. And the Russian language course helped me a lot to get by in Russian. I haven’t studied Russian before. When I got here, I didn’t speak Russian at all, and now I can read it and speak it.

As for my motivation, I wanted to do something fun with my summer, something out of the ordinary. And I thought why not try this, which might be interesting for my future master’s. My major now is political science. I studied in the Netherlands at the University College Roosevelt in this place called Middelburg. I hadn’t heard about the Summer University programme before, I just typed ‘Russia university in Moscow’, and HSE was the first university that I found. And my impressions are really good. I never expected that I would meet so many great people, visit such interesting lectures and learn so much in such a short period of time. I have a very positive attitude towards the programme.

Unfortunately, I can’t take any classes of Russian at my university, as it’s quite small, but I want to come back here for the preparatory year, so after a year I hope that I will speak good Russian and pursue my master’s here.


Saara Khalid, Miami University of Oxford, Ohio (U.S.), Psychology

I started taking Russian kind of on a whim. The more I studied it, the more I liked it. I’ve always wanted to study abroad, and I really wanted to come to Russia, so when I heard about this opportunity from professors in our Russian Department, I decided to come. It was really cool – I took a language course and then US-Russian relations and also History class in St. Petersburg. This is my first visit to Russia – I was really nervous but everything was really good. In addition, being a Psychology major I was a little concerned about my lack of background knowledge. But I must say that Prof Suslov who taught Russia-US relations was very accommodating about our knowledge – so for my final paper I was able to fall back on my Psychology studies and integrate my field of study into what was taught during the course. By the way, it was my first political science class ever! This was very interesting for me – in class I was trying to establish how what is being discussed relates to what I already know. It was actually nice to study something not related to Psychology – I take quite a lot of Psychology classes at my university.

I feel that my Russian has improved a lot – we got to practice speaking in the street or in the restaurants, ordering food, asking for directions. Also, I had a Russian roommate so I could talk to her every evening in Russian about how the day went. If I didn’t understanding something, she tried rewording it or speaking more slowly. I would like to continue studying Russian – I love the language – and I’m also thinking of applying to HSE’s English-taught master’s programme in Psychology.


Winnie Yang, Guan (Coordinator of student group from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies)

I’m a staff member of the International Office at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. We rank one of the top universities of foreign studies in China. And we offer a range of 21 language courses in our university, which is the university with most foreign language studies. For most of us it’s our first time in Russia, and we have had great impressions of this country and the campus. There are some differences between Chinese and Russian universities. For example, in most Chinese universities we live and study in the same campus. But here it’s different: we live five subway stations away, and there are two building clusters across the street. And the food here is very different. For the first few days students felt a little bit confused about it. We’ve tried different dishes in the cafeteria and restaurants surround this building. We had a lot of potatoes, unlike in China where we serve rice for main dishes.

HSE organized special lectures for us. The first course was by Professor Vladimir Zakharov (BRICS Countries and the Emerging Global Order), who spoke about the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. He knows a lot about Chinese economics. We learned something new from him.

The second course was delivered by Professor Vladimir Zuev. He talked mainly about Russian economics and the links between Russia and the EU. Maybe because they know that all the members of the group are different majors, some of us do not know much about economics, but through the lectures we can really learn something new about economics, which makes us more confident. It really opened our eyes and helped us to know more. The last lecture was given by Aleksey Maslov, the Head of the School of Asian Studies. He is really good about China and Chinese culture. All of us agreed that he knows it even better than us. He talked about Chinese characters, festivals, etc. And he also told us that he has translated a lot of Chinese literature into Russian. And we appreciate that. Most of us admired him very much.

As for future cooperation, we have already signed an agreement on the summer programme between HSE and our university. And I hope that we can also develop the other kinds of programmes, like exchange programmes for students and staff members, some study abroad or double degree programmes. If it’s possible, it will be very good. I think most of our students would love to come here to study. If our students who major in Russian language will come here it would be very helpful for them. 

See also:

From Vladivostok to Philadelphia: Who Studied at HSE University This Summer

In early August, this year’s HSE Summer University comes to a close. For the first time, the school welcomed a group of Russian students from Far Eastern Federal University.

HSE International Summer University in Full Swing

Every summer, HSE’s International Summer University attracts students, graduate students, post-docs, and professionals from around the world who wish to spend several weeks in Moscow to deepen their knowledge in a variety of fields. With the programme entering its second month, HSE News Service sat down with several students to talk about their impressions of it so far.

HSE Welcomes Students to International Summer University 2019

On June 24, HSE University held an opening ceremony for its International Summer University. Newly arrived students from 32 countries around the globe including Germany, the US, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and others were welcomed by First Vice Rector Vadim Radaev and Vice Rector Ivan Prostakov.

Summer University to Introduce New Features

Every year, HSE Summer University creates new opportunities for its participants - both students and researchers. The programme is becoming more and more versatile and the range of fields of study is constantly growing. In 2018, about 200 international students from all over the world took part in the Summer University. This year, participants are invited to choose from a larger pool of courses and even travel to Siberia.

HSE Summer University Celebrates Another Successful Year

On August 16, the HSE Summer University officially came to an end. The graduation ceremony was an opportunity for participants, teachers and programme administrators to celebrate yet another successful season – and the Summer University’s fifth birthday.

Summer Mathematics Programme Tailored to Students’ Research Interests

The HSE Summer University is off to a strong start this year, and one of its programmes – the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in Mathematics – has already been met with considerable enthusiasm by participating students. Designed for undergraduate students majoring in Mathematics or related areas, participants work on research projects under the supervision of distinguished mathematicians.

Renowned Professors Offer New Courses for Summer University Students

HSE’s Summer University officially opened on June 20. Now in its fourth week, the Summer University is in full swing at three of HSE’s four campuses– Moscow, St Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Participants continue coming to Russia for courses on topics such as politics, history, economics, and Russian and Eurasian cultures. Most courses last two to four weeks and all of them are taught in English.

Summer University Begins at HSE

In its fifth year already, the HSE Summer University was officially opened on June 20th by Vice Rector, Ivan Prostakov. Over the next 8 weeks, HSE will provide almost 200 students, PhD candidates, postdocs and professionals from all around the world with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge in a wide range of fields. Many of the courses, all of which are taught in English, focus on areas such as politics, history, economics, and Russian and Eurasian cultures.

‘Now I Really Recommend Moscow to All My Friends’

The fourth HSE International Summer University has drawn to a close. The programme continues to grow and evolve. This year over 160 students from 46 universities came to HSE to take courses in International Relations & Politics, Computer Science, Russian Studies, Economics, Culture & History.

'Moscow Seems Like a Totally Different World but I Feel Very Comfortable Here'

On July 21, students from Seoul National University presented their projects devoted to politics, economics and social sphere of Russia. Every year, within the framework of HSE Summer University, a group of South Korean students comes to Moscow to learn the Russian language and take 'Understanding Modern Russia' course. At the end of the course students prepare presentations based on the knowledge they have gained and their own research results.