HSE and St. Petersburg Through the Eyes of a Chinese Student
Zhang Caiyu is a Master’s student at HSE – St. Petersburg. Originally from China, Zhang Caiyu moved to Kiev, Ukraine as a Bachelor’s student, where she majored in the Russian language. Of course, it then made total sense to continue her education here in Russia. She is now a student in HSE’s 'Experience Economy: Hospitality and Tourism Management' programme. Here are her impressions of the university, the people, and the beautiful city of St. Petersburg.
After completing my undergraduate degree in Kiev, I began browsing various university websites to figure out where to continue studying. HSE grabbed my attention straight away. I immediately understood that it was unique, unlike its traditional Russian counterparts - modern, international, open and, most importantly, developing dynamically. I had never experienced the unique approach to education that was described on the website, but I was keen to give it a go. I even had the feeling that HSE was the university where I was destined to study. Without giving it a second thought, I applied for HSE, and, after completing all the formalities, I was accepted. In September 2017, my wish was granted: I arrived in St. Petersburg and began my Master’s. I can now honestly say that it was love at first sight.
St. Petersburg is a beautiful city with a renaissance atmosphere. It combines imperial dignity with fairy-tale charm. HSE is one of the world’s top universities and has access to cutting-edge resources, so I feel very proud of it and am very glad that I am studying here.
St. Petersburg is very deserving of its title, ‘the cultural capital of Russia’. I never tire of its marvellous landscapes. Its deep, cultural atmosphere attracts people from every corner of the world. In the centre of Senate Square, you can see a bronze statue of Peter the Great, proudly sitting on a horse; in front of St. Isaac’s Cathedral there is a bronze statue of Nicholas I. There are 100 colleges and universities, a great number of libraries and museums, and theatres with extremely talented actors, embodying the spirit of the ancient city. Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy, Ulanova, Repin and Lomonosov are cultural celebrities who contributed to the long history of Russian culture, and they lived in St. Petersburg all their lives. Voltaire, a famous French writer and philosopher, once said, ‘St. Petersburg combines the best features of all European cities.’
As soon as you set foot in this beautiful city, you’ll be entranced by its culture. Historic buildings are examples of 18th century European baroque style and classicism. The baroque buildings are an architectural ensemble and the luxurious materials and their many decorative features render them even more impressive. These details are like words in a special language, telling romantic stories of the past. The Hermitage and Smolny Palace are examples of baroque masterpieces. 300 years ago, these buildings stood silently amongst the inhabitants of the city, and they still make us exclaim in admiration today.
The campus where I study is located in this marvellous city. HSE – St. Petersburg is a research-oriented university that has been a leader in Russia in teaching and research since its inception. The university’s motto is, ‘We study not for school, but for life’. So, in a way, everything that happens here, happens for the benefit of the students. The school is brimming with its own unique charm.
As part of my major, I study both in Russian and English. It’s quite a big challenge, but, at the same time, it helps me to improve my learning ability.
The teaching approach is very interesting. We often play games in class and interact with each other
The teaching staff is another unique feature of HSE. If I have difficulties, I always ask questions, and they are never too busy to answer me, help me solve problems, and support me. Their teaching approach is also very interesting. We often play games in class and interact with each other. All of us are very positive and active. I think their teaching approach is extremely effective, as it keeps students motivated.
The learning environment and first-class accommodation are big drawcards of the university. Bright, spacious and clean classrooms and cutting-edge teaching resources make going to lectures very enjoyable. The learning atmosphere on campus is very supportive and there are conscientious students everywhere, reading up for lectures, doing their homework or chatting about what they’ve just learnt in class.
My classmates are well-educated and very nice people. We celebrate each other's birthdays together, work as a team, and do our homework together. I am a foreigner, and so they are always ready to help me if I find myself in a tricky situation.
University accommodation is excellent. There are 24-hour lifts and hot water facilities. Round-the-clock security is also a high priority and guarantees the students’ safety. To enter the HSE student dormitory, you need to have a special card. All rooms are furnished with a bed, desks, chairs, shelves and a wardrobe. Each floor has a study room, a hallway with lockers, and a shared kitchen with an electric stove, fridges and microwave. Students from different countries, in addition to Russian students, live in the dormitories. They are very warm and polite, helpful and take care of each other.
Overall, HSE is a dynamic university which sets itself apart with its international presence and partnerships. I really enjoy studying here and I am excited about finishing my Master's degree and becoming a specialist in my field.