‘The Americans Were Incredibly Welcoming’
How do you film a standup routine at a farmers’ market? Are Vermonters friendly? How many methods of manipulation are there in photojournalism? This summer students of the HSE School of Media learned the answers to these questions and more when they completed media internships in the United States.
HSE University students lived ‘on the other side of the pond’, so to speak, for almost a month. And they kept to a very tight schedule: they visited several states and met with local media editorial staff. The Boston Globe, WGBH Broadcasting, Burlington Free Press, WCAX-TV, Vermont Public Radio, Emerson College, and UMass Amherst are just a few of the media and institutions HSE students got to see from the inside.
Just Like in the Movies: Student Life
For 12 days, the students lived in Vermont, where they participated in the Media Literacy Camp at Champlain College. At the camp, they created media content and examined the differences between American and Russian media. ‘We had an assignment to shoot a segment at a local farmers’ market,’ says Oxana Gandzuk, a master’s student in Media Management at HSE. ‘We had an amazing experience! We got to shoot with a professional camera and a heavy tripod, to film a standup act in English, and get commentary from at least six local residents, who, by the way, were always willing to talk to us.’
Oxana was particularly impressed by what American student life was like: the big campus, the cozy dorms, and the university library. ‘I felt like I was in a movie,’ Oxana joked. Ilya Sagaidak, a student of Media Communications at HSE University, also made some unexpected discoveries. ‘The first and most important discovery I made was that I don’t want to be a journalist,’ Ilya said, ‘I learned what it truly means to be media literate, how to get to the bottom of an issue, and not get bogged down in a variety of opinions and facts. I learned some new kinds of shooting technology, got practice with doing interviews, learned about some unusual video editing methods, as well as tactics of manipulation in photojournalism, and I also learned how the law can protect journalists. I also came to understand, however, that I’m still looking for my true vocation.’
HSE University students not only immersed themselves in American professional life, but American cultural life as well. They attended Broadway musicals in New York and a Blue Man Show in Boston, visited museums in Washington, D.C., and went on rides at Six Flags in Massachusetts. They celebrated Independence Day with a boat dinner and fireworks on a lake in Burlington.
‘Americans are very welcoming people,’ said Darya Kasyanenko, a student of the HSE master’s programme in Media Management. ‘It was great to go on an internship thanks to the MEGA exchange programme. We expanded our horizons and gained experience, which will allow us to use our new skills and ideas professionally.’
Media Exchange for Global Achievement (MEGA) is a programme funded by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Its goal is to provide journalists and journalism students aged 18 to 22 with an opportunity to learn about the role of media in U.S. society and improve their practical skills.
This year, the programme received about 400 applications, 20 of which then advanced to a final round. Among these final 20 were four HSE University students. The selection process was comprised of several stages.
‘The competition was easy: you fill out a questionnaire and present your media product on the topic “I am a leader in media literacy in Russia”. Sounds difficult, but in fact, it’s simple: you write what you do in journalism, how you came to it, what media literacy is, and how it works in Russia. Following the consideration of your project, you pass an online interview and then find out if you got in or not,’ says Ekaterina Kharitonova, a student of Journalism at HSE University.
A University Open to the World
The HSE School of Media says that they encourage various international exchange initiatives. According to Anna Novikova, head of the master’s programme ‘Transmedia Production in Digital Industries’, every year, several students go on internships to different countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
If a student wants to go on an internship, I do my best to help them
Anna Novikova noted that students don’t have problems adjusting to their new environments—the difficulties usually arise with finances. ‘Studying in the U.S. is expensive. It is somewhat cheaper in Europe, but also not affordable for everyone. We would like to make international internships for our students more accessible and commonplace. HSE University currently provides administrative and financial support for one-time trips.’
International students also enjoy internships at HSE University, said Anna Kachkaeva, Director of the Centre for Digital Cultures and Media Literacy: ‘Annually, we have several international students who minor in Media and Mass Communications, which is what I supervise. In 2018, for example, we had two students from the U.S.’ American students took a half-a-year course, and have become much more fluent in Russian.
HSE University is open to expanding international cooperation, said Iliya Kiriya, Head of the School of Media.
We not only help students become integrated in different cultural environments, but also establish a dialogue between different media industries
The dialogue is also enriched by an influx of international lectures who teach full-credit courses at HSE University. For example, in the upcoming academic year, a lecturer from Tallinn Film and Media School will teach a course on transmedia storytelling.
Every year HSE graduates get accepted to postgraduate schools at the world’s leading universities. Vladislav Semerikov is just now completing his fourth year in the Bachelor’s Programme ‘Economics’, and he has already been accepted to a PhD programme at Pennsylvania State University.
Under the ‘Study Abroad Programme in Russian Language and Culture’ students improve their language proficiency and explore the Russian cultural heritage. Recently, they have been to Veliky Novgorod.
For Yiğit Tahmisoğlu, Süleyman Saltoğlu and Ekimhan Can – students from Istanbul Bilgi University – the opportunity to study in the HSE and University of London Double Degree Bachelor’s Programme in Economics has meant facing a number of challenges while simultaneously benefiting greatly from what the programme has to offer.
Yanina Karpenkina won the 2016 annual contest for HSE students, which is organized by the International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences. Thanks to the contest, she went on a six-week internship as a research assistant with the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Student-run television studios, artwork, effective advertising examples, and walls with headlines from Kommersant – these are just a few of the things discussed during an Open House excursion around the buildings where students specialising in media and communications study.
Simulation games involve the recreation of various situations within the framework of a specially designed environment. There are many different types of games, but most come in the form of computer simulations used in the fields of medicine, flight training, business, and politics. Simulation games are unique in that they are used mostly in practice; that is, they are constructed and only then is one able to see whether these constructions work or not. To learn how to take a scientific approach towards this topic, Natalia Isaeva, Junior Research Fellow and Doctoral student at the Institute of Education went to the Netherlands to study at Maastricht University.
Every year, the best achieving ICEF students are given the opportunity to go to the LSE Summer School in London. ICEF sponsored three students in 2015, and two students received a grant from LSE and ICEF. We asked LSE Summer School 2015 participants to tell us what helped them become best academic achievers and to share their impressions of the summer school and the city. It turned out that they have different life strategies, but they share a love of LSE library and the desire to learn and work hard.
While studying for an MA in the Governance of Science, Technology, and Innovation at the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, students can put themselves forward for internships in leading innovative companies, state agencies, or international organizations. This year, five candidates were shortlisted in preliminary selection rounds and Anastasia Trunina was the one chosen to do an internship at OECD. She has spoken to HSE News Service about the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology, and Innovation projects she was involved in this summer.
While some graduates are preparing for MA enrollment exams, others have already received confirmation from international universities. Graduates from the Faculty of Computer Science tell us about their decision to continue their studies abroad, the enrollment procedure, computer science courses available in international universities, and the role of fundamental math in studying economics.