International Students Want to Continue Their Studies at HSE
In the second semester of the study exchange at HSE more than thirty new international students are arriving from our partner universities in Italy, Austria, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Finland, South Korea and the USA. Another 30 foreign students who came for the autumn semester will be staying on. Half of them had planned initially just to spend one term at HSE but they liked it so much they decided to stay until the end of the academic year.
A short course in life in Moscow
Newly arrived international students say that the thing they dreaded most before coming to Russia was the bureaucracy. But it turned out not to be so bad. ‘Honestly, I expected that I wouldn’t be able to understand a thing, but in fact all the most important paperwork had been done for us, all we had to do was sign on the dotted line and collect the ready documents. I am very impressed by how well organised it all is,’ Leo Fabisch from the University of Munster confided. ‘In spite of the complex bureaucracy that governs every aspect of life in Russia, HSE is an amazing university,’ agrees Andrea Ceccarelli from Universita Ca’ Foscari in Venice. ‘Besides the many excellent and contemporary courses, the student accommodation is very good’.
The International Students Office helps foreign students adapt to life in Russia and deals with most of their bureaucratic problems for them - from the application for student ID to extending visas for those who need them.
Studying at HSE traditionally begins for international students with an orientation session to explain the history, structure, academic and non-academic aspects of the university. There is also a special seminar for them on intercultural communication ‘Living in Moscow’.
And there are volunteer student buddies who ‘take charge’ of the newcomers. They help them work out how the city transport system works, translate for them when they have to speak to officials, and show them around town.
Apart from these more formal events laid on for the newly arrived students, there was an informal gathering at Jeffrey’s Coffee cafe and a trip to the ethnographic village, Etnomir- Ethnic World (previous experience showed that foreign students particularly enjoyed joining in traditional Russian activities). In Etnomir students learnt about the old ways of daily life in Russia and baked some fresh bread.
What about the ‘old timers’?
‘When I arrived in September, Moscow made a really positive impression on me', said Ilaria Capitanio from the Free University in Brussels. ‘I am passionate about Russia,’ she explained, ‘and I wanted to try living in the country for a while.’ She came to HSE for one semester but decided to stay on a bit longer.
‘Moscow is very clean, the architecture and monuments are impressive and I love the Russian, Ukrainian and Caucasian cuisine. My family fully back me up in my decision to study in Moscow. They’ve been here too and think that it’s a splendid city. By the way the first semester went, they can see that I really like everything here and they are very happy for me.’ In her home university Ilaria is on a Master’s programme - Politics and Society in Eastern Europe, Russia and the Caucasus. She decided to come to Russia to see it all with her own eyes. And her growing confidence in her language skills are feeding Ilaria’s ambition to see Russia beyond Moscow. ‘Throughout my whole stay I have attended Russian language classes at HSE so I can speak intermediate Russian. I’ve been to St. Petersburg already and I now plan to travel to Kazan and to some other cities of the Golden Ring'. And if you want to find out about Moscow through literature, where better to begin than with Mikhail Bulgakov, ‘I am not much acquainted with Russian literature’, says Ilaria, but I am currently reading Master and Margarita.’
Magdalena Patalong came with the same purpose. She is on the East European Studies course at the Free University of Berlin. ‘In 10 years’ time I want a high level job in PR and communications with an NGO,’ Magdalena explains, ‘And because I’ve spent some months in Russia, I’m almost sure that my future work will be connected to this country.’
Magdalena says, of course her parents were worried about her when she was preparing to study in Russia, ‘Because it’s a long way from Germany and Moscow is huge, but they support me because they know that exchange study is important for my future career and my personal development.’ She was attracted to HSE because it is the ‘only university in Moscow offering courses taught in English'. ‘I started to study Russian over one year ago at my home university,’ she added ‘and I’m studying it here at the HSE from the beginning as well. Besides, the university has a very good reputation and the staff is international which is also important to me.’
Tanja Gemballa is from the University of Passau in Germany. She decided to join the HSE exchange programme because she is studying International Cultural and Business Studies at her home university, which focuses on middle and Eastern Europe, and especially Russia. ‘Since I already lived in Poland and Bulgaria, but didn’t have any possibility to visit Russia before, I was very glad about the opportunity to study in Moscow.’
Tanja says she chose HSE because, ‘Before coming here, I already heard that the HSE is Russia’s most progressive University, with a wide range of courses and is also very well organized'. Although she found the language barrier and bureaucracy difficult to adjust to she was curious, as she put it, ‘all in all this makes the experience of living abroad so interesting’. Tanja is proud of her language skills, ‘I’ve been studying Russian for 2 years already and plan on speaking it perfectly one day. In my home university I took a course on Russian literature and wrote an essay about one of Mayakovsky’s poems’.
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