English Graduate Chooses to Pursue Doctoral Studies in Political Science at HSE
Ever since he was a teenager, Judas Everett has been interested in politics. A new postgraduate student in HSE’s Doctoral School of Political Science, Judas says he owes a lot of his continued interest to the teachers he’s had over the years, the right encouragement and the right reading suggestions.
‘When I was younger, I was really inspired by Tony Benn – probably starting with his opposition to the Iraq war and also because he fought to renounce his inherited title and stand for election by the people’, says the 25-year old native of Yorkshire, who considers Norfolk, England his home. ‘Nowadays, I'm probably a little more inspired by Norman Davies as a British guy who successfully mastered a Slavic language and completed his PhD in this part of the world’.
Judas first developed an interest in studying abroad while completing an undergraduate programme in International Politics and International History at Aberystwyth University in Wales. Surrounded by fellow students who had developed strong language skills and had already traveled extensively, he became motivated to pursue a Master’s in International Relations at the University of Wroclaw in Poland.
The right balance between classes and research
Following his Master’s in Poland, Judas decided to pursue an advanced degree at HSE, although he was initially worried by the prospect of having too little time to focus on his research interests given his class commitments. Despite his initial concerns, though, he’s been pleasantly surprised by the balance he’s been able to strike.
‘I was a little worried that there might be too many classes, because I know that there is usually a huge amount of contact time in Russian universities – at least compared with those in the UK’, Judas says. ‘It was a relief that I have enough to focus on my project and read both very deeply and very broadly. I have classes with Professor Malinova, Professor Ilyin, and my supervisor is Professor Akhremenko. Everyone has been helpful and willing to help but I haven't had too many problems yet (touch wood)’.
Following the completion of his PhD, Judas hopes to remain in academia. ‘Three years is such a long time, and I'm quite single-minded so I am only thinking about completing my PhD at the moment. I have hopes of staying in academia when I finish, but I think the best way to have a chance of that is to just work hard and do my best while I am at this crucial stage of my education. I think I will just do my best and enjoy the next three years and then who knows’.
Life in Moscow beyond the programme
‘Moscow is a really great city’, Judas says. ‘It has anything and everything imaginable and I can't say enough positive things. In general, life in big cities is pretty similar and I can't complain too much about anything in day to day life. The biggest difference between the UK and Russia though – and it was a similar situation in Poland – is the totally unfathomable bureaucracy and strange rules that nobody understands – not even the locals. If nothing else it does teach patience!’
To make things easier, Judas has been focusing on improving his Russian skills, although he admits to the difficulty of the language.
‘My Russian is pretty bad, but I have enough to handle most day to day situations’, he says. ‘Russians, like English people, really expect people to speak their language and they're often really surprised when I don't understand something or have a very English accent, but we usually find a way to make ourselves understood. I do hope to work on my Russian over the next three years, and I have high hopes’.
Despite the differences and the challenges he has encountered, Judas prefers to focus on the similarities that all people share, especially when he tells stories to his family and friends back home. ‘I make sure that I'm not just telling stories about banyas, vodka and mushroom picking but also how things are actually not that different and people are normal. Then I can tell them about banyas, vodka and mushroom picking’.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service
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