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Regular version of the site

Student Impressions

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?

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 Economics, Applied Economics, Comparative 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), Political Science (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.), Psychology (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. 

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.

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.

Chihi Siwar, 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. 

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.

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. 

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.

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!

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.