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Regular version of the site

‘I'll Definitely Be Here for the New Year’

On December 20, the students of the International Preparatory Year programme at HSE’s Moscow campus got together to usher in the New Year in true Russian style. They all first arrived in Moscow this September with zero or very limited knowledge of Russian. So, their programme started with an intensive course of Russian as a Foreign Language. Now, three months later, they have already mastered enough Russian to make mini-presentations, perform sketches, take part in a Russian culture quiz, and solve Russian riddles.

The teachers of Russian as a Foreign Language who have been working with students these past three months helped them to prepare and rehearse for the show. Students from Botswana, Indonesia, Congo, Vietnam, and South African Republic made presentations in Russian about their national New Year’s and Christmas customs and traditions. Other students did sketches in Russian. One group presented a modern rendition of the classic Russian fairytale ‘Turnip', with students from different countries taking on the roles of grandpa, grandma, their granddaughter, a dog, a cat, and a mouse, who all join in an effort to pull out a gigantic turnip from their garden. Another group did a reenactment of a popular Russian cartoon. The students also recited famous Russian poems and sang popular Russian New Year’s songs that they learnt during their lessons.

All students who took part in the performance got presents from Russian Grandfather Frost and his Granddaughter Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden). And, of course, the evening ended with everyone singing a traditional Russian song about the New Year’s tree!

Most preparatory year students will be staying in Russia for the winter break, which will give them a chance to take part in the festivities and enjoy the Russian winter.

Jacob Edwards (Australia)

I've always had a love for the Russian language, and especially Russian literature and history, so I thought, why not come to Russia.  I've already had two holidays here. I first came during the summer, two years ago, and then came during the last Novy God (New Year’s holiday), and that was fantastic. I've never seen snow before I came here, so to me, it's just magical.

I'll definitely be here for the New Year's. I know that it’s a family holiday. Generally, relatives get together around the table, if I remember correctly, eat lots of food and discuss random things, listen to songs and watch Putin on TV for a couple of minutes, then they would go out and watch the fireworks. I've got some Russian friends, so I'm going to join them, and we're going to get together, sing some songs, both English and Russian, go out and watch the fireworks. It’ll be a beautiful perfect night.

Before starting this Prep Year programme I could read Cyrillic and I knew a few basics. For me, the listening part is the most difficult. When I say 'Izvinite, pomedlennee, pozhaluista' (Could you speak slower, please), most Russians speak louder instead of slower, so it can be hard to keep up with the spoken part of the language.

I like watching Russian cartoons, like Karlson, Kotenok Gav, Prostokvashino, and Cheburashka. They help me improve my listening skills, and they are really cute. I also go to the cinema and theatre as much as possible. For me, it feels like Moscow is such a cultural centre. I've already been to Novosibirsk, Veliky Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, and St. Petersburg but I would say that my favourite city is Moscow. St. Petersburg was a little disappointing, actually. I've read lots of Russian literature, such as Gogol and Pushkin, and Dostoevsky, and was expecting it to be this beautiful place, like Nevsky Prospekt. I got there and there were just cars and people walking about. It wasn't that special. Moscow, on the other hand, always seems to entrance me. There are these beautiful night walks on the Red Square or in Gorky Park, for instance. Besides, you can get lost at any metro station here and just discover something new and beautiful.

Seth Amankwah Odum (Ghana)

I really like being here, in Russia, because I realize that Russia is one of the most beautiful places that everyone should visit if they travel to Europe. I enjoy my time here, apart from the weather, obviously, and people who smoke. The architecture is beautiful and there are a lot of nice places. There is a lot of history – there are great museums – which I like.

It’s very cold in Russia in winter so it’s not that easy for me but I got enough warm clothes on the advice of my friends. I like adventure so I’d love to try skating or skiing while I’m in Russia. I’m staying here for the New Year because I want to experience everything in Russia.  I’m sure the celebration here will be different from what we do in my country. I hear that in Russia the New Year is a grand holiday, bigger than Christmas. I’m looking forward to seeing it myself. I already see that the city is beautifully decorated – there are lights everywhere. We plan to go out on December 31 and mix with international students and the locals.

Mila Cerovic (Montenegro)

I didn't actually plan to come to Russia, but since my childhood I used to be connected with Russian culture, with literature, music, traditions and so on because of the Slavic tradition and similar language. For my Bachelor’s I studied international relations but nothing was dedicated specifically to Russia. So, after finishing my Bachelor’s, I decided to go to the East.

When I came, I literally knew only spasibo and pozhaluista but now I can speak the language. I just found out that for me it could be easier because many things are similar, for example, noun cases and so on. But still, sometimes it can be very tricky, because there are 'false friends' - the same words, but with different meanings.

I’ve already got used to many things which were strange for me in the beginning. It's just a different culture. The climate is a big challenge for me. I'm coming from Montenegro, and it can never reach below zero in November. Even if it's one or two below zero, for us, it's Siberia. And now, it's minus 13 or 14! And you say to Russians: 'ochen holodno' (very cold). They reply: 'eshe ne holodno' (it’s not that cold yet). In the first few days, I was literally feeling as if I was in a freezer, but now I've already got used to it, and I like one saying in Russian that says that there is no bad weather, there are just bad clothes.

Photos by Anastasia Loukina, HSE student


See also:

‘My Prep Year Experience Has Been Phenomenal; I Would Repeat It All over Again if I Could’

The International Preparatory Year programme held its graduation ceremony in July. This academic year, 125 students from 50 countries were enrolled in the programme. They will continue their studies at Russian universities, most of them pursuing bachelor's and master's programmes at HSE University. The graduation was organised as a quest, where the students were able to demonstrate their achievements in learning the Russian language. Graduates from Ecuador, Syria, and Mexico shared their impressions with the HSE News Service, Deputy Director Polina Shanko talked about plans for the coming year, and mathematics teacher Vladimir Gordin gave his advice to future students.

‘Russia Is a Land of Openness and Possibility’

Lorenzo Trufolo graduated from Bologna University and is studying in the HSE International Preparatory Year ahead of his master’s studies in international trade at HSE University. In his interview, he talks about his studies in Russia, participation in academic conferences and competitions, and the challenges of living in Moscow.

HSE Prep Year Students Present Their Research Papers at International Conference in Tomsk

From April 25 to 27, a scientific student conference was held at Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU). It was attended by international graduate students and postgraduate students from 57 countries, including four students from the HSE Preparatory Year programme. The HSE News Service talked to the conference organisers and participants about their impressions of the event.

‘The 4th International Economics Olympiad—My Journey’

Oghogho Joy Isibor came to HSE University after earning a scholarship from the Faculty of Economic Sciences for her performance in the International Economics Olympiad. She is one of several foreigners to apply via the same competition. Oghogho is currently studying on the HSE University Preparatory Year Programme before starting her Economics degree. Read on to find out about her experience of the Olympiad, adapting to life in Russia, and the challenges of learning Russian for her future studies.

‘I Made a Lot of Friends and My Speaking Level Improved’

On December 23, students of the HSE Preparatory Year got together for a festive Russian speaking club. They expanded their vocabulary and cultural outlook by immersing themselves in Russian winter holiday traditions and even played the role of Ded Moroz—the Russian Santa.

‘The City of Moscow Inspires Me with the Joy of Living’

The new academic year is gaining momentum at the HSE Preparatory Year, with students from over 40 countries currently enrolled. The HSE News Service talked to the new students about their first impressions and the challenges of studying at HSE University and living in Moscow, while teachers of the Prep Year extracurricular clubs shared their ideas and plans for future activities.

‘A High Concentration of Intercultural Communications’

The team of the HSE International Preparatory Year said goodbye to its students at a graduation party that took place at the HSE Cultural Centre. 197 students from 58 countries graduated from the programme this year. They learned Russian and profile subjects in Russian, which has helped over 100 of them to enrol in degree programmes at HSE University.

‘Coming Here Felt Like the Right Choice’

Leticia Ines and Alejandro Perna first met in a Russian lesson in Buenos Aires. Now, eight years later, they are studying together in HSE University’s Preparatory Year programme. They spoke to the News Service about how their love for Russian language and culture brought them together and led them to enrol at HSE University, what their classes are like, and where they see their careers going after they complete their studies in Moscow.

What It Is Like to Be an HSE Student

Van Ly Vu took Prep Year programme at HSE University before enrolling in BA in Advertising and Public Relations. In her column for HSE Illuminated, an online student newsletter, she shares her story of becaming a student of HSE University.

'It Was Nice to Experience the Charms of Student Life in Russia'

Ljiljana Filipović, from Croatia, is currenttly studying in the Master in International Management programme at the HSE Graduate School of Business. This year she was also helping international students with Russian language in 'Russian speaking club' organized by International Prep Year programme. In her interview, Ljiljana Filipović shares her experience of the Prep Year programme and offers some useful tips for international students.