HSE Illuminated is an online magazine in English language, started by Arkady Naboka and Ekaterina Ershova at HSE St. Petersburg. All articles are written by students for students. This magazine presents important news, gives practical advice, recommendations, and instructions on extracurricular activities, talks about campus life, features stories about HSE people and organizations, and more.
Why is our magazine in English? Our goal was to create a shared information space for all students, including internationals.
The idea of creating such a magazine was around long before the launch of the magazine in 2018. Initially, only students from the St. Petersburg campus took part. Since 2019, students from the Moscow campus have also joined our project. Some authors have been working with us for more than one year.
The title of the magazine is a callback to the novel Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foe, which, in our opinion, is aligned with our project—to highlight as much information as possible about life at HSE University.
More details about the project's mission can be found in the ‘Why join?’ section on the project’s website.
If you have any interesting ideas to share, often participate in extracurricular activities, feel that university life does not receive enough coverage, care about creative writing or want to hone your writing skills, or if you merely wish to get some project credits while working on a friendly international team, you can join us by signing up through the Project Fair. Please visit the webpage.
I got to know about HSE Illuminated from one of the project supervisors. Back then I was looking for a project that would allow me to work remotely because I was planning to go to South Korea as an exchange student for a semester. Even though I love writing I never really got a chance to participate in a project like this where I would actually be a content creator.
To me, HSE Illuminated seemed like an amazing opportunity to see if I like writing articles for a website as much as I like writing stories and posts on my personal social media accounts. Before joining the project team, I also checked out the official website and it was the mission and the idea behind the project that got me interested: HSE Illuminated was created with the purpose of showing that life of HSE students is actually a lot more vibrant and diverse than it might seem.
I was initially planning to work for HSE Illuminated only for the first two modules but then I asked the supervisors if I could continue working with them and signed up for the next two modules as well. In total, over the first two modules I wrote 7 articles and then 9 more articles during the last two modules.
In general, people here at HSE Illuminated are free to write on any topic that is of their personal interest, but there are four main themes that are later used as tags on the website:
One of the most important discoveries I made when I was working on these articles was that by having its mission to show others how many interesting things are actually happening in our daily life at HSE, HSE Illuminated also changes our own perspective on life.
When you are actively searching for something to write about you start noticing that even our daily life that seems quite boring to us is full of moments worth writing about, we just often take all of those for granted.
For instance, while I was working on preparing all the documents for my exchange, I wrote an article about the application process in hope that it will later help others.
Another important takeaway from this experience was that I realized how much I love talking to people and getting to know them through their stories.
I got a chance to talk to one of my classmates about his brand “Vse Ravno Lubov”, as well as to people from different majors whom I have never met before (for an article about rating) and first year students of our major.
Later on it motivated me to write more articles of the “People, Share Your Story!” kind. I still remember how nervous I was when I had to reach out to students from different majors for my article about the rating system at HSE – I wasn’t sure they would agree to answer all of my questions and, in general, take me seriously. But all the people who I reached out to were super nice and willing to help me.
Apart from that, during the last two modules I was trying to make my content useful for international students. That is why I wrote an article about Russian language based on an interview with one of my classmates who had experience of learning Russian as a foreign language and a short article about the cafeterias we have here at HSE.
I personally consider myself a very organized person, which is probably why I was pleasantly surprised when the project supervisors explained how everything will be handled: it was very clear and thought-through.
We used Google Spreadsheets to monitor the articles that were going to be published every month: authors had to choose a theme (from the four themes mentioned above), indicate the title of the article and approximate time they need to finish it.
Later on, supervisors could easily check how many articles each of the authors wrote and whether the deadline was met. Google Spreadsheets were also useful for both authors and supervisors because it allowed us to check if there were too many similar articles on a certain topic: supervisors could then simply waitlist some pieces, while authors could make a mental note not to write on that topic. On top of that, since it was also possible to collaborate on a single article with several people, one could easily find other authors with similar interests and contact them.
We used Google Forms to submit our works once we were done and, once again, I really appreciated the effort supervisors put into organizing this final step of the process. We simply had to upload a file with the article, pictures we wanted to include, the title and a short description of what an article is about. Then, we could check if the article was published on the official website or our official community on Facebook.
Based on the number of published articles and their size supervisors gave all the participants credit points which were also entered in the shared Google Spreadsheet. Technically, there were no deadlines and no quota to meet in terms of the number of articles so we were free to plan everything ourselves based on the number of credits we wanted. With so much freedom, such a well-organized workspace definitely helped a lot to stay on track. If we had any questions, we could always contact our supervisors via e-mail, and they were always ready to help us out.
As a senior, I have enough experience of working on other projects as well, but HSE Illuminated was definitely the most well-organized and well-managed one. Since we were working remotely from the very beginning, we didn’t have to change anything when HSE transitioned to online learning. It was quite hard to get used to how fast everything changed in our daily lives so it was nice to have something that would stay exactly the same.
Even though I am a senior student and know what is happening at HSE pretty well I still like to read about different club activities and events that are held at our university because I don’t always have time to attend those. I also really enjoy reading articles that reflect writer’s personal interests because I truly believe that a good article can only be written by someone who is passionate about the topic they are writing about.
Despite the fact that HSE Illuminated is technically about our life at HSE it is, in fact, not only about studying. Here you can also read about movies that our students love watching, their stories about travelling and daily life in general.
In the end we are not only learning something new from people who we interview for an article, but also other authors as well: you get to see what other people on our team are interested in, read about it and even collaborate with them if you want to.