HSE St Petersburg Fosters an International Education Environment
HSE in St. Petersburg is often warmly referred to as a ‘big family’, so it’s nice that this family is particularly multinational. Students from 40 countries currently study at HSE St. Petersburg, and have the opportunity not only to gain new knowledge and valuable skills in intercultural communication, but also to make friends from all over the world.
Today, over 250 international students from 43 countries, including the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, France, the UK, Sweden, Finland, Tunisia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Korea, China, Mongolia, Thailand, and the CIS study at HSE St. Petersburg. Students from Australia and Canada are also due to arrive to study here in late September.
Olga Okulova, Director of the Centre of International Education, shared her impressions: ‘We are happy to help these students feel at home at HSE and provide them with every opportunity for professional and personal growth. Traditionally, we start the academic year with an orientation session for all our international students. I am glad to see that the number of international students is rising every year. HSE is becoming a prominent university for students who want to take part in international mobility programmes or to study abroad on BA and MA programmes.’
Collaborative learning with international students is a great opportunity for all students to find friends from across the world, to learn more about other countries’ traditions and to share their understanding of Russian culture. In addition, friendship and communication with international peers provides outstanding motivation for Russian students to improve their language skills or to start learning a new language, and international students have a great opportunity to practice their Russian. Studying in groups together with international students creates a great environment for lively discussion and joint projects. It is also an important part of our students’ immersion in HSE’s academic environment.
Elvira Spasskikh, a 2nd-year Management programme student and buddy, says she finds studying alongside international students both interesting and useful: ‘You have an opportunity to learn straight from people actually from those countries, for example how to behave during negotiations in their country or how to dress or what gestures to use or not to use when greeting your business partners, and other important and interesting things. It may sound weird, but talking to foreigners also teaches you a lot about your own country. They notice things that I see as routine, for example, they find it very convenient that, in Russia, shops are open every day and you can buy anything you want even on Sundays. As for practicing language skills, surely there are a lot of advantages in studying alongside international students. One of the main goals of our buddy club is to attract international students to take part in HSE extracurricular activities. We organize a lot of events that involve exchange students.’
Zakhar Kozyrev, 3rd-year Management programme student and Head of the project HSE Case Club, confirmed that international students are keen to participate in HSE extracurricular activities: ‘We regularly tackle business cases in English. And international students are always welcome to take part in these classes. They like the format of our classes and learn a lot during them, as they don’t usually have similar clubs in their universities. They share some interesting business cases and features of the selection process in companies in their countries. As for our students, for them it is a great opportunity to practice business English with a native speaker and to learn a lot about business in different countries of the world.’
Guilhem De Wyskerslooth De Rooyesteyn, exchange student from the IPAG Business School, said that, as a foreign student, he is keen to study in the multicultural environment that HSE St. Petersburg offers: ‘I study with students from England, France, Mexico and Germany, and, as we interact only in English, it is good language practice for all of us. In addition, everyone talks about their countries and that allows us to learn more about each other's cultures. I decided to study in St. Petersburg because I love this city and I wanted to understand Russian life better. In France, I studied a number of different subjects focused on doing business in Russia. After graduating I may return to live here.’
Natalia Smirnova, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Foreign Languages, noted that students at HSE St. Petersburg have a great opportunity to study and to communicate in a multilingual university environment. Joint classes for Russian and international students allows them to understand the importance of learning a foreign language and motivates them to take language courses. Daily language practice at the university in combination with intensive language courses open up new opportunities for their successful academic and even career growth.
It is worth mentioning that it is not only the international students, but also the international faculty who deliver courses and work at HSE’s international laboratories that contribute to the university’s education environment. The international nature of daily interaction here provides excellent motivation for students to study responsibly.