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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 the 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.