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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsNewsEducation'I Didn't Know What to Expect from Perm, However, I Have Found it a Pleasant Surprise'

'I Didn't Know What to Expect from Perm, However, I Have Found it a Pleasant Surprise'

Sheila Pattle, doctoral student at Durham University, speaks about her work at the State Archive of Perm Region, her love for Russian culture and the things that impressed her in Perm.

On her trip to Russia

This is not my first trip to Russia. I have been coming here regularly for the last ten years. From 2008 to 2012 I studied for, and received, a BA degree in Russian. Then I got my MA degree. Now I am preparing my PhD thesis. However, this is my first time in Perm. I didn't know what to expect from Perm, because I didn’t do an internet search about the city before I came. However, I have found it a pleasant surprise.

On her interest in Russia

I think Russian culture is probably the main reason for my love for the country. I remember when I was a teenager, I read a lot of books by Leo Tolstoy. Later, there was a crucial moment — I discovered the music of Shostakovich – and that changed my life.

Impressions of the city

I traveled to Perm from Moscow by train. A native resident of Perm who told me many things about the city, happened to be my train mate, so I can say that my first impressions about the city were good. On my way to the hotel I noticed a lot of Soviet-era buildings in the city center. I expected to see a lot of modern buildings, so I was pleasantly surprised that there are still some historic buildings in the centre.

 When I first saw the university, I was surprised how clean it was and how busy everyone is.  Maybe it’s more about when I visited the university, but there’s a real energy to the place

Anyway, I came to Perm for work, so I don’t have time to see the sights. But I've visited the famous Perm Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre three times. For me that’s the main cultural attraction in the city.

Work at the State Archive of Perm Region

I'm writing a paper on how sociology was used in industry in the Soviet Union during the 1960s to 1980s. As examples I chose two cities: Leningrad and Perm. I chose Perm even before the partnership agreement between my university and HSE. I use the archive to look for sociological documents and various works by sociologists. It may sound strange, but for PhD you always have to choose something original. Besides, it’s really hard to find material for such topic.

Impressions of HSE Perm

Unfortunately, I don’t often visit the university. I only have contact with the staff of the International Student Support Unit. But when I first saw the university, I was surprised how clean it was and how busy everyone is.  Maybe it’s more about when I visited the university, but there’s a real energy to the place.

Partnership Programme between HSE and Durham University

I think this is a great opportunity for Durham. It is great to find a partner in Russia. I'm sure that our students, who will travel to Perm, will like the city. I found it a very friendly place. I hope I’ll get the opportunity to come back here to continue my work or start writing a book.