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Regular version of the site

Student Impressions

Thomas Ledet, University of Aarhus (Denmark) / SU 2019

At the moment, I’m doing my master’s in political science. In December last year I was checking the internet for some study opportunities in Russia, and I found HSE Summer University – it was in fact the only programme that I found. I signed up for five courses.

The first week I took the ‘Russian State and Russian Space’ course by Professors Suslov and Kanaev. After that I took courses on fake news, BRICS, and Russian soft power. My last course is ‘EU – Russia Economic Relations’. I am not taking any language courses because I only came to Moscow for 4 weeks and I felt that 5 courses would be enough for me. I do know some Russian – from my time in Russia and also because I took some Russian language classes in Denmark after my internship, but I don’t speak the language well. Still, it helps me get around the city. However, I must say, this time around I see more signs in English, especially in the metro, which is probably thanks to the world cup held last year.

It was interesting to learn about the Russian perspective on different international relations issues. It is not that it is completely different from what we see in Europe, but I have noticed that there are some differences between what is considered as facts on both sides. This is another reason I wanted to go here.  I study international relations, and this area is often Western-centric, so I wanted to see what it looks like from inside Russia. I think it’s important for me as a student of international relations.

For the fake news course I wrote a paper on a news piece from Fox News where they compared social systems of Denmark and Venezuela and came to an astounding conclusion that the situation in these two countries was not that different, which is certainly not the case. Generally, I believe that politicians have a huge responsibility nowadays – to uphold the facts and not to twist the facts to suit their narrative. It is also very important to do the fact-checking and verify the validity of the sources.

Moscow is an exciting city for an international student – there are so many museums, and it’s nice that there are student discounts. There are also good parks with free workout areas, pubs, restaurants, sports facilities. The city has everything that you need. I have also been to a lot of classical music concerts and ballet performances because I like this very much, and Moscow has a lot to offer in terms of theaters and concerts. The production of ‘Swan Lake’ at the Stanislavsky Theatre was very nice.

Valeria Michelle Ruiz Arce, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (Mexico) / SU 2019

I've been interested in Russia since I was a child. I was thinking about doing an exchange at HSE University, because my university, ITAM, is a partner university of HSE. I was working at the international office at my home university, and I thought, well, if there is an opportunity, a partnership, why not? I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree now, and I thought it would be a nice experience to take my last two or three courses abroad. And I thought, why not do it in Russia?

I’m taking a Russian language course here. I started to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and listened to a couple of Russian songs before coming here, but I didn't understand anything. Once you understand and memorize the alphabet, it gets easier. But then, the next stage is when you have to read everything and listen. As long as you keep practicing, reading becomes easier. Then, you have to also learn the vocabulary, which is completely different, although there are some words that are really similar to Spanish. I still have to learn a lot, and I would like to keep learning Russian. But it's more difficult to learn Russian than English.

In addition to the language course, I took 'Russia-EU Relations' and 'Politics and Economics of Energy', which is an amazing course. I'm really interested in the topic and Professor Zuev knows a lot about energy and pushes us to be innovative. After the class was finished, he gave us some parting words of encouragement, which was really great. He is an expert in his field sharing his knowledge with us, and he knows how to do it. Another course I’ll be taking is 'Behavioural Economics'.

Although I sometimes had courses six hours a day, I still had some time to do sightseeing. Moscow is a big city, but Mexico City is also huge. I was born and live in Mexico City, so I'm used to it. Here, everything looks so huge, and I really like it. Compared to Mexico City, Moscow has more historical buildings. In Mexico City, there is a historical part and a modern part. But they are both big cities with a lot of things to see and to do. There are many restaurants, and I am amazed but food markets in Moscow—I really love them. As for Russian food, I really like vareniki (traditional Russian dumplings with different stuffing). And I love the Black Star Burger place near HSE’s main building.

I'm actually planning to come back again to do part of my master's or maybe get a degree. I'm really interested in getting to know the culture. For my master's, I'm really interested in the field of energy. Professor Zuev told us about a master's programme on world economy with a specialization in energy, and I also know about the master's programme in STI Governance and Technology. I'm really interested in that as well.

Alex Arnold, University of Kansas (USA) / SU 2019

I've been studying Russian at my university for the last year. I know a little bit of it. I had a friend who was studying abroad, and that really piqued my interest into looking at different countries to go to. So, having studied Russian, I thought it would be really cool to come here and work on my language as well as study and get a different view on many different topics.

I came to Moscow for a month and I’m taking three courses at the HSE Summer University – ‘Russia’s Soft Power’, ‘EU-Russia Relations’, and ‘Global Actors in Public Policy’. At University of Kansas I am majoring in political science and I'm looking into a minor in Russian.

I certainly got a different perspective, especially with the EU-Russia Relations course. I definitely changed my opinion about interactions between the two. As for the global actors course, it helped me identify true analytics for what it means to be a global actor. With ‘Russia's Soft Power’, I learned about a different aspect of diplomacy and foreign policy, which was also very useful to me as a political science major.

The Global Actors class with Professor Belyaeva was probably the most intensive class, because we had to write a five-page paper and make a little presentation. For our paper we had to identify and analyse a global actor. Initially I chose an organization in the US that cleans up oceans, but it was more of a private business and not really an organization. I chose again and I picked an institution for scientists that works with different policymakers to include the right wording for science development policies. In the other two courses, we had lectures followed by an oral exam—which was different for me since I've never had an oral exam in the States. I guess it was more difficult than a written exam.

This has been very beneficial for me. I use Russian outside the dorm as well when I go to a grocery store or move around the city.

It is my first visit to Moscow. I absolutely love everything about Russia and Moscow. I definitely am looking to come back. During the first few days here, I went with my buddy to different parts of the city, including Red Square and the GUM shopping mall. I also just walked around Moscow, which was very interesting. By now, I've learned my way around the city. I can use the metro confidently and know how to get from one side of the city to the other very fast. I absolutely love the metro - I really enjoy how the metro looks, and also the street musicians that perform there.

Camila Cordova, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (Mexico) / SU 2019

I decided to come here because my school has a partnership with HSE University and at my university in Mexico there are a lot of students from HSE. So, when I was deciding which summer school to go to and asked one of my professors for his opinion, he told me that the HSE students in Mexico are really sharp and that HSE’s educational standards arequite similar to those at my Mexican university. That influenced my decision to come here.

I’m a political science major. During my month here in Moscow, I’m taking three courses – ‘Human Rights Law’, ‘Advances in Decision Making Theory’, and ‘Fake News, Post-Truth and Digital Media’.

I initially chose ‘Advances in Decision Making’ because I thought it would be devoted wholly to game theory and would be more theoretical, but it turned out to be more on the math side – I learned new math approaches in game theory, and not the applied methods I already knew from my political science courses. The course was a bit complicated, because it was run by several teachers, each of whom showed a different method. However, we didn’t go deep into math and the purpose of the course was to give us a general idea of what the models were about.

The Fake News course was a surprise for me, because I thought it would be more about the media, but it actually was more political, closer to my field, which I really liked. Professor Kiriya was really good. It was a short course, just one week, but I really enjoyed it. We talked about authors I’d already read, and it was interesting. I am particularly interested in the political psychology aspect of the course - how the masses react and vote. For this course we had to write a case study analysis essay – I chose a story about the Mexican presidential elections one year ago, when some video footage was released just prior to an important presidential debate falsely accusing one candidate of money laundering. The video went viral, polarizing the vote. 

As for the last course, ‘Human Rights Law’, I chose it because I really like the legal side of things. In Latin America human rights are not a thing, like in Europe. Professor Continiello is truly amazing. She is very knowledgeable. Her class was different from the other two – much more interactive. She also organized some excursions. To pass the course, we were expected to make a presentation and to write an essay on a human rights case – mine will be on the discrimination of housekeepers in Mexico, which is really a case of modern slavery, because these people work without health benefits, social security, fair wages or any kind of legal protection.

Overall, student life at HSE University is pretty similar to what we have at our university back home. The only new thing for me was interacting with people from so many different countries. I didn’t know there were so many African students here. I lived in the dorm and I got along with the people living there quite well. Not knowing Russian was of course a bit of a challenge because not all people here speak English, but the Summer University office has been very helpful. I’ve never been to Russia before and I must say it’s beautiful. I am really impressed.

Nikita Kravchenko, Far Eastern Federal University (Russia) / SU 2019

I was impressed by the HSE University lecturers’ expertise and the fact that we could easily interact with them, like in Professor Nadezhda Shilova’s behavioral economics course, for example.  Professor Iliya Kiriya taught an amazing course on fake news, and Dr. Maria Sole Continiello taught a  very informative course on human rights legislation. Knowledge of human rights will be very helpful for me in the future when I go to Vietnam as a volunteer.

You’ll need a good command of basic English: to talk to international students, to understand the lectures, to write essays, and to make presentations. While you’ll have some time to see Moscow or St. Petersburg, this won’t be a tourist trip. You are going to study and must understand very clearly what you want to get out of being here.


Valeria Varlashova, Temple University (USA) / SU 2019

I study mathematical economics at my home university, so at the HSE Summer University, I decided to take courses in mathematics and behavioral economics. I came back to Russia for my summer studies in order to get a new perspective on the things I study in the U.S. This is a different view, another approach to economics, and this knowledge will be useful for me. The studies are organized in a completely different way here, but that’s what I liked. Honestly, I did not expect so many and such diverse international classmates. It was thrilling to meet people from so many countries.

Olivia Cobleigh, Pace University (USA) / SU 2018

I have always been interested in the Russian language and culture, but I wasn’t getting enough practice in the US. What’s more, I was really shy about speaking Russian with other people. Over the past seven weeks, I have made major progress. This is thanks to the immersion that living in Moscow provides, and of course, to my dedicated Russian teacher on the program. If I could give any advice to future Summer University participants, it would be to stress less. It was a big step for me to come here, but the organizers of the program were an excellent support. I was in regular contact with them via email before my arrival, and once I arrived, I was looked after by my buddy. My teachers were also always available to answer my questions.

Ung Joo Kim, Kyung Hee University (South Korea) / SU 2018

Thanks to the support of my teacher and classmates, I now feel much more comfortable speaking Russian- not just at university, but also in social settings. I didn’t expect to get so much out of the program academically.
I was really impressed with the level of teaching and it has put me much further ahead. I feel ready to start my next semester at HSE, thanks to the intensive language training over the past seven weeks.

Natalia Polakova, Masaryk University (Czech Republic) / SU 2018 

Professor Aleskerov has an international reputation. He has worked with some of the US scientists who wrote the papers that I relied on in my studies and my research. Some of his papers were proofread by economist and Nobel Prize winner, Ken Arrow. It’s such a privilege to be in his classes. It’s a small group of people, so it’s really communicative. We discuss a lot and get to interact closely with the professor. I wrote my master’s thesis on what we have been talking about. It’s extremely relevant.

Christopher Brooks, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (USA) / SU 2018

I chose "Economic History of Russia: Features of Economic Development" course because I liked economics and I wanted to try out some more classes. I knew that I was going to spend the summer in Russia, so I took this course. So far, I really like it; what we have been doing has been very interesting, but sometimes it's very difficult for me to read in Russian.

Siwar Chihi, KEDGE Business School (France) / SU 2017

My father and mother live in Moscow, and I learnt about the Summer University through them. I really liked the courses offered at this programme. It’s complementary with my studies, which is management and finance. I had some geopolitics courses and I loved it. I would like to also learn more about Russian history, so I took a history class and liked it a lot as well. It was a great opportunity for me to get the credits I needed.

Taking the maximum number of courses wasn’t difficult in fact because all I needed to do was study. The courses were really interesting. I liked the courses on Russian – EU and Russian – U.S. relations taught by the same teacher, Dmitry Suslov. They showed the Russian point of view, which was interesting for me because I believe that whatever we do, the most important thing is to have an open mind and an open spirit. The last course was called ‘Global Actors in Public Policy’, and we had a lot of debate. The Critical Perspective on International Business by Tatiana Grishchenko at HSE St. Petersburg was also very interesting, and we had a lot of debates in this class, too.

I visited Moscow as a tourist for ten days two months ago and I liked it. I saw that it’s a complicated city with its secrets and it’s not enough to just be a tourist here. I decided that knowing more about one of the most important cities on Earth is better when you live there. When we go out, we learn which restaurants, bars, parks, and areas we have to go. I’m really glad that after two months now I can really recommend Moscow to all my friends, and I also love St. Petersburg. 

Sonia Sotomayor, Pace University (USA) / SU 2017

I study information systems with a minor in Russian language and studies. This is my first time in Moscow. I wanted to come here to immerse myself into the language and the culture. I want to become fluent eventually in Russian. I already speak Spanish, which was my first foreign language required at my school. As a third language, I’ve chosen Russian. I’d been learning it just about six months before coming here, which means about eight months now. It’s difficult, but I think I’m better at the everyday language today and I can understand more.

The people have been really understanding when I tried to speak the language. The people here are friendly and different from what we see in media, where there is a lot of negativity. It was a great experience, and I want to come back to Moscow. The museums and the parks in Moscow are beautiful and very clean. I also loved St. Petersburg.

When I was choosing a university for the summer programme, HSE seemed like the best option. I chose four courses: Russian Language, Global Actors in Public Policy, Introduction to Natural Language Processing, and Russian Space & Russian State. I liked the Global Actors in Public Policy course the most. Professor Nina Belyaeva is really great; she told us a lot about how organizations act globally and how they affect public policy and economics.

For the future participants of this course, I recommend having an elementary level of Russian; it would be very helpful to get around in the streets. I wish I knew a little bit more of Russian before I came here. There’s so much to do here. The courses are great; you meet a lot of people; a lot of great friendships have started here; I definitely would recommend it.

Mina Elgabalawy, Grenoble School Of Management (France) / SU 2017

I initially came to HSE for Semester in Moscow programme but then decided to stay for the Summer University and study Russian. It’s my first time in Moscow, I really like the city and I’m planning to come back to look for a job here in the pharmaceutical field. I started learning Russian in January, then during the Summer University, we had studied every day. Now I’m going to continue my studies.

The course of Russian at the Summer University was very practical, every day we had a lot of conversational practice. There was, of course, some grammar, but not too much. Home assignments helped us practice more. As for the programme organization, the information posted on the website was quite clear, the schedule was okay. The programme is suitable for people who already know some Russian basics, who are aware of language, the rules of pronunciation, and know how to speak Russian. Here they can practice the language. 

Alix Forgan, Georgetown University (USA) / SU 2017

It’s my first time in Moscow. I really loved the city and I’m glad that I came here. Moscow is a beautiful city, a lot of things to see, and people are very willing to talk to you. I really liked Gorky Park, as there something is always going on and you have things to do, I also liked the Red Square.

As for the programme courses, I chose Politics and Economics of Energy, Critical Perspectives on International Business and a course of Russian language. During my first year at university, I had a Professor who got me interested in the subject of Russian energy economy, as he is a well-known expert on Russia. I really enjoyed the classes. I started learning Russia a year and a half ago at Georgetown University, so I learnt a lot of basics. This course helped me to understand people much better, the immersion is really helpful. People here are very friendly, and that’s really great, I had no problems making friends.

As for the future participants, I would advise that they should start their visas as soon as possible, so they didn’t miss the start of the courses. The courses were definitely useful, I’m planning to take Russian during my last year at the university, keep practicing and come back here. I’d really love to come back!

Sam Yeung, University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong) / SU 2017

My major is Global China Studies. I have taken two courses, in Russian history and post-Soviet demographic process. These courses have been really helpful. Before coming to HSE, I had no idea what Russian history is. I didn’t know about the Soviet period. I learned a lot. The interaction with the teachers was also very good.

My overall ranking of the programme on the scale from 0 to 10 would be 9. When we arrived to the airport in Moscow, we already had buddies welcoming us, and that was really thoughtful. At the beginning Moscow was strange for us, we didn’t know Russian and had no idea where to go. It’s my first time in Russia. Everything is colorful and nice, the appearance, the people, and the food. My biggest impression has been the churches. The churches in Moscow are quite different from the other places, like in Europe or in China.

For those who are coming here, I recommend learning Russian, because not everyone in Moscow speaks English. I didn’t take a Russian course, but I’ve learned some Russian and now I can order breakfast in Russian.

Moreno Stambazzi, Universtiy of Florence / University of Turin (Italy) / SU 2017

I decided to take part in this programme as I received some very good advice from a friend of mine who studied here. I took Russian Language course and the course on the Russian Space and Russian State, as I try to improve my Russian and I’m interested in political science, and Russian space and Russian state could fit well for my course studies. I liked the lectures a lot, that is why I decided to apply for the visiting scholar programme here for the next semester, and my request was accepted.

The courses were very useful for my dissertation, and now I can speak Russian better than before I came here, I studied it for two months intensively. The impression you get in Russia is that when you try to say something in Russian, even if people do not understand you, they still try to help you as they see that you try to speak their language, and it’s something I really appreciate. People here are very kind and helpful. It’s my fourth time in Moscow, I really like the city, that’s why I’m going to return here again.

Ariana Szeto, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong) / SU 2017

I came to Russia to learn more about history and culture of the country.  Russian people are very nice, even though they don’t show it with their facial expression. And they are really helpful. Gorky Park seemed an interesting place, you can spend a whole day here, just take a book and sit on the grass. I decided to take part in the programme to learn more about Russia, not just the things we learn from the books.

The course ‘Demographic Development of Russia and Post-Soviet countries’ was very interesting, as we learned about the people, the structure, and professor helped us to create a clear picture of Russia. As for the future participants, I’ll advise that they should read some information about the country in the media and books, but here they’ll definitely learn more. I don’t speak Russian language, but here I learned to thank people in Russian, and they really appreciate it when you try to speak their language.

I liked the programme and the city as the environment is very different from Hong Kong, which is a very compact place. And here everything is wide, unique and beautiful.

Monica Ramos Flores (University of Colima, Mexico) / SU 2016

I was looking for a summer school in Russian Studies and luckily, I found this one. It’s very cool. If I could, I would have taken all the courses, but I didn’t have enough time, so I just took Asia-Pacific and Russia course. It was very interesting because I wanted to hear about the Russian perspective – how they see the Asia-Pacific region and what they could offer. I really enjoyed the course; it met all my expectations. Although we have all the information back in Mexico, the interpretation is different here, which is what I wanted. It was interesting to compare the two perspectives.

During the course, the professor explained that Russia wants to maintain or bring back its status as a global power, and Russia’s strategy in the Asia-Pacific region is aimed at that goal. For my Bachelor’s degree, I am also focusing on Asia-Pacific. We have the opportunity to discuss China, Japan, Korea, and as an extra subject, Russia. My final goal is to specialize in Russia, so now I am thinking of doing a PhD, perhaps in Russia, but also perhaps in another country but still focusing on Russia.

Michael Beckers, University of Cologne / SU 2016

Compared to bigger universities, it’s very interesting that the teachers and organizers here take a personal approach to students. I didn’t really expect this. Here I took a course on Russian language and a course called A Glimpse of Russian History. I’m a Bachelor’s student in Slavistic studies and Music Sciences, which cover Russian history and literature. I’ve been studying Russian for two years already, and communicating with Russians here has helped me to make great progress.

The history course also introduced me to quite a few interesting facts about Russia. In Germany, we study only one century of Russian history, so here I learned a lot. I want to say longer in Moscow, so I’m going to be an exchange student at HSE, although I haven’t chosen the programme yet. I think I might choose courses in Russian language and literature.


Alexis Shaw, University of North Carolina / SU 2016

I’m finishing up my bachelor’s this year. I’m mostly interested in regional policy and international conflicts, and in the future, I’d like to work in the field of national security. My Russian literature professor, who I’ve been studying with since I was a freshman, was the one who recommended the HSE Summer University. I’ve read a lot about Russia, both the Soviet and post-Soviet period, and about how your country changed after perestroika and the effect this had on global politics as a whole. Aside from history and politics, I love Russian literature, particularly Leo Tolstoy. During my time in Moscow, I’d like to get to know people so that I can get a good understanding of what Russia is really like and possibly dispel certain stereotypes.

Katya Railjan, Stuttgart Technology University of Applied Sciences / SU 2016

I was looking for a summer school in Russian Studies and luckily, I found this one. It’s very cool. If I could, I would have taken all the courses, but I didn’t have enough time, so I just took Asia-Pacific and Russia course. It was very interesting because I wanted to hear about the Russian perspective – how they see the Asia-Pacific region and what they could offer. I really enjoyed the course; it met all my expectations. Although we have all the information back in Mexico, the interpretation is different here, which is what I wanted. It was interesting to compare the two perspectives. During the course, the professor explained that Russia wants to maintain or bring back its status as a global power, and Russia’s strategy in the Asia-Pacific region is aimed at that goal. For my Bachelor’s degree, I am also focusing on Asia-Pacific. We have the opportunity to discuss China, Japan, Korea, and as an extra subject, Russia. My final goal is to specialize in Russia, so now I am thinking of doing a PhD, perhaps in Russia, but also perhaps in another country but still focusing on Russia.

Lijia Lin, University of Michigan, Economics and Mathematics / SU 2015

I had two reasons for coming to the Summer University. First, I’ve studied Russian for one semester in my university – the Russian language has always amazed me by its word usage. I am very interested in learning Russian, which is a rather difficult language, so I came here to study Russian.

And my second reason was to research master’s programmes in Russia. After I finish my bachelor’s in the U.S. I want to apply to a master’s programme in Economics or Politics in Russia. I feel like Russia is a rising power, so I want to become a specialist in Russian relations. There are no such specialists in China or the U.S. at the moment. I think that if I want to get this knowledge, I need to come to Russia and learn it here.  My situation is very complicated – I am Chinese, but I study in the U.S. so I get information from both sides. In China, Russia is viewed as the most loyal strategic partner, while in the U.S. the media demonizes Russia. I wanted to find out what Russia really looked like, and the same time I wanted to come here to HSE to see how the mater’s programmes are organized and which programme might interest me most.

At the moment I see four interesting programmes – Financial EconomicsApplied EconomicsComparative Social Research and Applied Economics & Mathematical Methods – two of them are partially taught in Russian so I will need to improve my Russian. I am thinking of coming to HSE after I graduate this December to take an intensive 6-month Russian as a Foreign Language course. Hopefully, by the end of the programme, I will have a sufficient knowledge of Russian.

Shelby Allinder, American University (U.S.), International Relations / SU 2015

I came here on a scholarship from my home university. I haven’t studied abroad before and I am very happy to have had this experience. When I came here I knew only four Russian words, now I know quite a lot. The Russian language course I took during Summer University was fast, intensive and extremely productive. I am not nearly as fearful as I was – I can talk to people in the street now, and I am very glad for the experience. Living in the country you are learning the language a lot better than just learning it at university.  Previously I studied German and I only started learning Russian here despite the fact that I studied Russian Politics and History. I know it sounds odd that I study Russia but don’t speak the language – so coming here was meant to fill that gap. I also took an EU-Russia Relations course, Russia and Non-traditional Security Challenges and Russia-US Relations. I was surprised to learn how important visa policy is and how significant this issue is. I used to think that the biggest issues are anti-ballistic missiles.

I think in America when we think of Russia we don’t ever see the city or the country. But when you come here, you see the architecture, you talk to people and you learn to disassociate politics from culture and people.  I visited many interesting places in Moscow. I was very much impressed with the city.

Amandeus Van Rossum, University College Roosevelt (Netherlands) / SU 2015

I took six courses. I found most of the courses interesting. I was especially interested in the EU-Russia relations and US-Russia relations. I found out a lot about Russian politics, BRICS countries, etc. And the Russian language course helped me a lot to get by in Russian. I haven’t studied Russian before. When I got here, I didn’t speak Russian at all, and now I can read it and speak it.

As for my motivation, I wanted to do something fun with my summer, something out of the ordinary. And I thought why not try this, which might be interesting for my future master’s. My major now is political science. I studied in the Netherlands at the University College Roosevelt in this place called Middelburg. I hadn’t heard about the Summer University programme before, I just typed ‘Russia university in Moscow’, and HSE was the first university that I found. And my impressions are really good. I never expected that I would meet so many great people, visit such interesting lectures and learn so much in such a short period of time. I have a very positive attitude towards the programme.

Unfortunately, I can’t take any classes of Russian at my university, as it’s quite small, but I want to come back here for the preparation year, so after a year I hope that I will speak good Russian and pursue my master’s here.


Saara Khalid, Miami University of Oxford, Ohio (U.S.) / SU 2015

I started taking Russian kind of on a whim. The more I studied it, the more I liked it. I’ve always wanted to study abroad, and I really wanted to come to Russia, so when I heard about this opportunity from professors in our Russian Department, I decided to come. It was really cool – I took a language course and then US-Russian relations and also History class in St. Petersburg. This is my first visit to Russia – I was really nervous but everything was really good. In addition, being a Psychology major I was a little concerned about my lack of background knowledge. But I must say that Prof Suslov who taught Russia-US relations was very accommodating about our knowledge – so for my final paper I was able to fall back on my Psychology studies and integrate my field of study into what was taught during the course. By the way, it was my first political science class ever! This was very interesting for me – in class I was trying to establish how what is being discussed relates to what I already know. It was actually nice to study something not related to Psychology – I take quite a lot of Psychology classes at my university.

I feel that my Russian has improved a lot – we got to practice speaking in the street or in the restaurants, ordering food, asking for directions. Also, I had a Russian roommate so I could talk to her every evening in Russian about how the day went. If I didn’t understanding something, she tried rewording it or speaking more slowly. I would like to continue studying Russian – I love the language – and I’m also thinking of applying to HSE’s English-taught master’s programme in Psychology.


Winnie Yang, Guan (Coordinator of student group from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies) / SU 2015

I’m a staff member of the International Office at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. We rank one of the top universities of foreign studies in China. And we offer a range of 21 language courses in our university, which is the university with most foreign language studies. For most of us it’s our first time in Russia, and we have had great impressions of this country and the campus. There are some differences between Chinese and Russian universities. For example, in most Chinese universities we live and study in the same campus. But here it’s different: we live five subway stations away, and there are two building clusters across the street. And the food here is very different. For the first few days students felt a little bit confused about it. We’ve tried different dishes in the cafeteria and restaurants surround this building. We had a lot of potatoes, unlike in China where we serve rice for main dishes.

HSE organized special lectures for us. The first course was by Professor Vladimir Zakharov (BRICS Countries and the Emerging Global Order), who spoke about the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. He knows a lot about Chinese economics. We learned something new from him.

The second course was delivered by Professor Vladimir Zuev. He talked mainly about Russian economics and the links between Russia and the EU. Maybe because they know that all the members of the group are different majors, some of us do not know much about economics, but through the lectures we can really learn something new about economics, which makes us more confident. It really opened our eyes and helped us to know more. The last lecture was given by Aleksey Maslov, the Head of the School of Asian Studies. He is really good about China and Chinese culture. All of us agreed that he knows it even better than us. He talked about Chinese characters, festivals, etc. And he also told us that he has translated a lot of Chinese literature into Russian. And we appreciate that. Most of us admired him very much.

As for future cooperation, we have already signed an agreement on the summer programme between HSE and our university. And I hope that we can also develop the other kinds of programmes, like exchange programmes for students and staff members, some study abroad or double degree programmes. If it’s possible, it will be very good. I think most of our students would love to come here to study. If our students who major in Russian language will come here it would be very helpful for them. 

Gabriela Cunha dos Santos, Brasil, University of Brasilia / SU 2014

Having the opportunity of studying at the SU was a great experience of life. First of all, it was my first time studying abroad. Second, the structure that HSE provides to the foreign students is great and I felt home when I was living in Moscow. Then, learning a little bit Russian and a lot of interesting curiosities about your culture with our buddies – who helped us a lot! – was enriching. And the most important thing is that when we study with people of most different nationalities we learn a lot even outside class-time. And I loved the day on GPS course that each of us presented the Food Security situation of our countries within a global context. By preparing this presentation I've learned so much about Brazil and as I study food market here, this experience added me a lot of knowledge. After that, on listening my classmates I got even more interested in my research subject. If I have a suggestion for the SU, is to always stimulate their students to make presentations and discuss the topics together. 

Parwiz Habib, Afganistan, The University of York / SU 2014

Do you know anything about Russia? How did you learn about her? If your sources of information are media or books I would say, this is the time to check whether or not your knowhow is correct. How to do that?

The opportunity for you to do so, will be participation in the summer university program which is organized by Higher School of Economics (HSE). This, I believe is the best program that can actually expose you to Russia and will give you the true picture of her society, culture, administrations, government and the lovely people.

Since this was my first visit to Russia, I was very concerned about the how to communicate and find out the important attraction. The program had already taken care of this concern and we were assigned the amazing people (the buddies) who help us a lot in various aspects of the trip. They helped us communicate, took us to various cultural events, made us see the best parts of Moscow and so forth. The buddies I got introduced to are my best friends now and I really appreciate their support and great hospitality.

Although, it is a short summer course but it has a good academic values because one gets credits for the course they attend. It is unlike other programs where you just receive certificates with no credits. Additionally, I was so impressed by the school and its professors that I wanted to pursue my PhD studies in HSE.

By and large, I will have to admit that this is a program worth attending because you will get the real picture of Russia and meet some amazing people from not only Russia but also around the world. Therefore, I highly recommend the Summer University for anyone who wishes to learn more and enjoy their summer. 

Sanjay Kumar Rajhans, India, Taras Shevchenko National University Kiev (Instructor) / SU 2014

It was the morning of the last day of June 2014 a great weather with blue sky and gentle breeze. I was standing opposite the magnificent and regal new building of the Higher school of economics at Mysnitskaya street and thought of giving Olga a call. I said 'I am waiting outside the entrance of the university building, Can I meet you?' She was so surprised. 'How did you manage to come by yourself! We would have sent a car and a Buddy (a great asset I came to know latter for all the foreign students) to receive you' said Olga. She turned up in half a minute to receive me with much warmth. Welcome to the summer University of HSE!

It was six weeks of great learning and discovery for me to be with the summer University of HSE. The First Vice-Rector Sergei Erofeev, the director of the program Oxana Chernenko a very caring person, Olga as the ever present manager of the program to sort out any petty problem for the newly arrived students and the rest of the support team made us feel that we are some very important delegates for the HSE not the mere summer University students. The sterling quality of education made the students from across the globe so impressed and satisfied. It was a galaxy of amazing teachers each one a great specialist in his/ her subjects and bringing a whole new perspective to the students about the subjects we had chosen, with a much nuanced understanding of the topics, a very updated and unexplored research data combined with very friendly and engaged teaching style was in the learning process.

What more one could ask for! Besides the Credit Transfer of these programs (ECTS) was such a gift that made students to study that the results/ credit points of which they can use in their University and gain their marks.

We had been a group of students coming from different climes of the planet with places as diverse as Turkey, Brazil, Afghanistan, USA, Norway, Pakistan, Denmark, China, Korea and India besides Russia. The six weeks program was so amazing and after the classes students tried out the great sightseeing during the long summer day of Moscow walking past the great historical museums, chatting with their classmates from other countries discussing about the other part of the world through their mutual conversation and at the same time discovering together the magical Russian spirit while marveling at the architectural wonders that are spread out across the vast expanse of Moscow. Every lane and street has something to share with you on the scale of architectural marvel, the Higher school of Economics is right in the center of the city and the dormitory was cozy with fun ambiance also located in the center of the city !WE JUST LOVED IT.

The great camaraderie was built fast amongst all the students and a great asset of friendship and links to take back home. The students that came from the Georgetown University Michael had been an old fan of Russian world and had done a year of studentship in St. Petersburg so was the ex diplomat Lars from Denmark who is a Russia expert and had been so impressed with the impressive scholarly environment of the University coupled with such warm and friendly approach. The international seminar held for the Global Problem Solving was just amazing too which Higher School of Economics organized with George Mason University of USA. It was a great time altogether when you have stalwarts like Prof Sergei Medvedev and Prof. Maxim Bratersky untangling the facts from the spinoff, the facts from the hearsay about Russia in a very objective and holistic manner.

Well that is not the end of this! The Summer University of HSE went organized a very fabulous welcome party, in fact twice for the late comers too where the best of Russian snacks were so delectably laid out on the table and the great music was played out. Can one imagine that the First vice Rector Dr. Sergai Erofeev who is an acclaimed academician doubles as a virtuoso of Piano! The reaching out to the students with their kind and friendly attitude was so heartening. A fantastic outside Moscow tour was organized in the historical city of Sergai Pasad which is one of the great centers of Orthodox Christianity and so was the guided tour to Moscow city on a luxury tourist bus. At the end of the Summer University program, there was the farewell party showing the bondage and brotherhood built during this short period of a month, we were all enveloped with emotions.

The summer University students were supported so well by the local students of HSE who volunteered as Buddies and made us know and understand Moscow and Russia in a very engaging way. In a way the whole exposure to the Russian world with such care and detail was very educative to us and it speaks volumes about the thorough preparation on the part of the Higher School of Economics to take care of the summer university students in a highly caring way.

I shall most definitely recommend the international community of students to visit the Summer University of HSE in Moscow to have the very best of both worlds where the academic excellence is on the platter coupled with the demystifying of Russian soul in the most agreeable weather of Russian Summer. By the way, I just joined the university as a full-time student by getting hooked to such a wonderful educational platform that HSE is. who shall miss such a gem of an opportunity?