Irina Antoshchenkova and Alina Miller are students in the HSE Master’s programme in Applied Economics and Mathematical Methods. From October 2014 to January 2015, they studied as exchange students at Aix-Marseille School of Economics (AMSE). AMSE recently published an interview with the Russian guests.
— How did you spend your last months in France and what are your upcoming goals?
Alina: In the last few months, I studied at the Aix-Marseille School of Economics (AMSE) within Aix-Marseille University as an exchange student. Apart from studying, I visited the French cities of Lyon, Paris, Nimes and Avignon. My next plans are to take all the exams here and continue to work on my Master’s thesis!
Irina: During the three months I spent in France, I took courses from the second year of the AMSE Master’s programme as an exchange student. My chosen courses are now finished, so all I have to do is take the exams... My short-term plan is to pass the exams and go home with good marks, having had a great experience and with many emotions!
— Why did you choose to take part in the exchange programme at AMSE?
Alina: I study applied economics and mathematical methods at the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg, so for my exchange semester I wanted to find a programme that was similar to what I am studying now. I looked at the courses that AMSE offers their students and decided that it would provide me with a great opportunity to supplement my knowledge.
Irina: When the coordinator of our Master’s programme at HSE said that there was an opportunity to be involved in an exchange programme at the beginning of first year, my first thought was: I should go! Without a doubt! We didn't know what university it was but I was really excited. I am really glad that it was AMSE. If I had to choose again I would definitely pick this one!
— What feelings do you have about this experience so far from home?
Alina: For me it was my first experience as a foreign student. Of course, I faced some problems that I’ve never had. For example, I was forced to use my poor knowledge of French to overcome various challenges. Nevertheless, I think there is a positive side in all of this because I have learned how to cope with matters by myself. That is why it was an essential experience for me as a young woman and as a student.
Irina: Speaking about the home where I grew up and where my parents live, it is not my first experience, because I left my hometown at the age of 17 in order to study for my Bachelor’s degree. But as for the experience in a different country, things are more complicated, although there is always a solution! Alina and I are now tougher when we face administrative issues that adults face...we faced them abroad, in another language. I think the experience is just as important as the education.
— What advice would you give to students who wany to pursue an exchange programme?
Alina: One of the most important pieces of advice is to be ready to study a lot by yourself. AMSE pays special attention to self-study and exploring extra sources and materials apart from what is provided during the lectures.
Irina: Be prepared for everything! Even with a lot of support from the university administration the main person who has to deal with things here is you.
— Was this French training experience a success?
Alina: I think that every experience in life is necessary to attain and understand something. Studying here in France gave me a broader view of many things. I used this time to decide what to do after graduating and now I have clear plans for my future. I would like to find a professional internship somewhere in Europe.
Irina: Yes, of course! Even before I knew the marks I got for the exams, I concluded that it was a great experience! It is an achievement just to be here! The opportunity to take courses given by such strong faculty is success in itself!
— Did this semester meet your expectations? Are you convinced by our education programme?
Alina: I thought that studying would not be very easy, and it was not. I thought that I would discover something new, and I did. However, I can say that my expectations about certain courses were at odds with reality. I had anticipated something totally different from some courses in terms of the objectives and content. At any rate, I have learned something new and I hope it will be useful for me. I can say that to some extent I am satisfied by the programme I chose.
Irina: Yes, definitely. I really enjoyed the lectures here. I have a Bachelor's degree in mathematics and my main aim for the Master’s programme here and at HSE St. Petersburg is to know how mathematics is used in economics and in what ways they are associated. In addition, the courses we attended here are the best tools to get it. I'm definitely pleased with it!
— What is your best memory at AMSE?
Alina: My best memory is the lectures of Professor Raouf Boucekkine, which I really like; these lectures were the most interesting of all the courses.
Irina: Apart from meeting new friends and listening to interesting lectures, I think I will always remember AMSE as one of Marseille's main attractions: la Vieille-Charité. It is not every day your lectures take place in a museum complex!
— How would you describe AMSE?
Alina: I think AMSE is very strong university where students are required to have a strong background in mathematics. AMSE gives you the opportunity to obtain deep knowledge by investigating the core theoretical basis and to be involved into cutting-edge research.
Irina: AMSE is a good way to achieve your goals, whatever they are: to become a good scientist, to get more experience, to meet new people or to know more about France! AMSE will help you with all of this!