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Reflections on the HSE Preparatory Year Programme

Preparatory Year programme at HSE aims to help students learn Russian language in order to subsequently apply to Russian-taught Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes at HSE or other Russian universities. Two recent graduates of the programme share their impressions.

Andrianantenaina Hasinavalona Patricia

For 19-year old Andrianantenaina Hasinavalona Patricia, currently a second-year undergraduate in the Culture Studies programme, coming to Russia to study in HSE’s Preparatory Year programme was the first time she had lived away from her family in Madagascar. It was a difficult but rewarding experience.

Andrianantenaina says that the greatest strength of the Preparatory Year programme is that it gave her the ability to understand and speak Russian after having arrived in the country with zero Russian skills. ‘When I came to Russia, I didn’t even know the alphabet, but now I can say that I can speak Russian thanks to the Preparatory Year’.

While she was satisfied with the conversational Russian she learned in the Preparatory Year, if Andrianantenaina could make one change, she would have the programme focus more on academic language.

‘Something that maybe can be added to the programme is academic speech…for lectures, seminars, and so on’, she says, adding that she felt some of the professors weren’t always aware of their language skills when Andrianantenaina and her international classmates began classes. ‘So the thing that I want to change is that I want it to be possible for foreign students and Russian students to study together more easily like in other universities’.

Despite the initial challenges with language preparation, Andrianantenaina is enjoying her time in the Cultural Studies programme.

‘It’s very interesting because It aims to enhance and celebrate cultural experiences – to enjoy culture by analysing it and its social meaning’, she says. ‘It’s also interesting because Cultural Studies deals with culture as a part of everyday life. In this programme, we study a lot of things: history, philosophy, language, religion, art and so on. Everyone thinks that we study only Russian culture, but we also study other cultures, such as that of France, which makes it really interesting’.

As for her future plans, Andrianantenaina hopes not only to continue her friendships with the people she’s met at HSE, including from the Preparatory Year, but to someday work in the Ministry of Culture of Madagascar. Her dream is to help show her country’s fascinating culture to the world so that people in other countries have the opportunity to learn about it. 

Divani Kuruppi

Divani Kuruppi, an undergraduate from Sri Lanka in the Software Engineering programme (Faculty of Computer Science), agrees, saying that the Preparatory Year was a very remarkable time period that was both educational and entertaining.

‘I learned not only Russian language, but also common Russian manners and how to react in social situations too’, Divani says. ‘But I'd like to mention that it would be really helpful to continue studying Russian language even after the preparatory year as it is difficult to understand the lectures because of many new terminologies specific to our own study programmes. If possible, it would be great to learn those terms even in the Preparatory Year’.

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