From Peru to Moscow: Joint HSE-Skoltech Programme Attracts Students from Afar
Attracted by the famous mathematical education in Russia, Alfredo Alejandro De la Fuente Briceño decided to travel halfway around the world to enrol in HSE’s Master’s Programme in Statistical Learning Theory, a new joint programme between HSE and Skoltech aimed at training the next generation of scientists to carry out fundamental research and work on challenging new problems in statistical learning theory. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering at the National University of Engineering in Lima, Peru, the 25-year-old was encouraged by several professors and friends to try a programme in a different language and tradition and step outside his comfort zone.
‘I can consider it to be the hardest studying year of my life’, Alfredo says when speaking about his first year at HSE. ‘Many different components have to be taken into account: moving around the city, doing paperwork in another language, understanding a different culture, taking Master’s level courses on a topic not closely related to my previous background education and competing with very good students. Yet, it was worth it. After the first month, I managed to get a nice group of friends who kindly provided me some help, and I also decided to join Russian classes. By the end of the semester, I was doing well in my courses and was able to fully enjoy sightseeing in the city’.
Alfredo mentions that his favourite teacher has been Vladimir Spokoiny, Professor-Researcher in the Faculty of Computer Science (Department of Technologies for Complex System Modelling) and Programme Academic Supervisor for Mathematical Methods of Optimization and Stochastics, Statistical Learning Theory. His favourite course has been Machine Learning given his lack of familiarity with it previously and the big challenge it presented for him.
When asked if he would change anything in the programme, he mentions organizing courses in a way that students only need to take classes in one institution at a time during a term, alternating back and forth between HSE and Skoltech. ‘Commuting the distance between them is considerably time-consuming’, he says.
In addition to his studies, Alfredo has found time to practice table tennis, exercise in his dormitory gym, and learn to ice skate. He is also eager to visit the city’s museums and famous buildings, as well as explore Russian cuisine and meet other international students.
‘I have made some very good bonds with different international students’, he says. ‘Some of them I met at the university and others by attending different seminars or casual meetings’.
For other international students looking to study at HSE, Alfredo recommends learning the Russian alphabet and how to recognize and pronounce words before coming to Russia. He also encourages newcomers to be patient with paperwork and take time to learn about the culture in advance.
‘And regarding what to bring, I can only suggest an open mind ready to actively learn (a lot!) and a disposition to do the best regardless of the circumstances’, he says.
International admissions for HSE’s Master’s programmes are open until July 15, 2018. You can apply online.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service