Experience Economy at HSE St. Petersburg, Student Story
Born on the borderline of Estonia and Russia, Anželika Varblane has never visited Russia before she decided to apply to master's degree in St. Petersburg. Here is her story of choice collision, adaptation, future prospects, and experience economy studies and research with HSE St. Petersburg.
Why Study in Russia
My previous educational background was mainly related to political science, international law and diplomacy. I started my educational path from Tallinn University of Technology where I was studying Public Administration. After that I moved to Russia to get a bachelor’s degree in International Relations in St. Petersburg State University of Economy. It was not the best decision I have ever made. I was fully disappointed by the domain.
During the last year of my studies in bachelor’s degree, I had no idea what to do further on. Should I go back and continue to work and study with no change of field at Estonian or Italian university, which I considered? I could only apply to master in law or technology of governance and something like that, but I had no desire to go for it. So I started to check opportunities I might had in Russia. I began from St. Petersburg State University, but I didn’t find anything interesting for me.
When I checked the programmes at HSE, I hit upon ‘Experience Economy: management in hospitality and tourism’. This programme seemed to be made up specially for me as I already had a 2-year experience in hotel management (administration, events, SMM), plus 4 years in event management with international students’ organisation in Europe, ESTIEM.
Dealing with Admission Procedures
I sent an application form in a very last minute, it took time to get an academic transcript. All guides for international students were easy accessible on the website, so I instantly liked HSE University, even before coming here.
One month later, after submitting, I was invited for an interview. At this time, I was working on my bachelor thesis in Naples (Italy), so we agreed upon skype. By the end of April, I had an interview with the Programme’s Deputy Academic Supervisor Ksenia Kuzmina. I was impressed with her professional and friendly style and, thanks to that talk, my desire to study Experience Economy has only grown. We spent about an hour talking over my experience, bachelor thesis, programme outlines, and I was recommended a full-tuition scholarship.
After that I had to collect and translate the application documents: form for the Ministry of Education, medical certificate, HIV results, passport and academic transcript or diploma, notarial translations, and send them all to Moscow head admissions office.
A serious challenge I faced during this time was the fact that my passport expired less then 18 months by the semester start. At first, I put the number of the valid one into the application form to forward it to Moscow, but the Admission Office got back to me saying it is no possible to apply. As I urgently need a new one, I had to rush back to Estonia in between my end-of-year exams and bachelor thesis statement, to arrange the following passport takeover in Consulate General of Estonia in St Petersburg, and submit the copy and translation to HSE international admissions head office in Moscow in the very last minute. When I was guessing whether I am enrolled or not, I received a reference number for the Russian visa in the end of August. I was happy.
Living in Russia
It’s not that easy to handle with it, if you are native to digital (in Estonia almost everything could be done via Internet and you never stand in line), or to a mild climate as in South Europe.
I am pretty much sure that HSE University St. Petersburg does a great job to help you to adapt here. Be brave and dare to study tourism in the World’s Leading Cultural City Destination (according to the World Travel Awards 2016, 2017)
Study and Research at HSE St. Petersburg
Now, in a year and a half of study at HSE’s Experience Economy programme, I can say that my positive expectations about the tuition and the university are fully justified. I believe that the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg is the best university in the city, or maybe even in Russia. Almost all the internal processes are built in a wise way, faculty staff is polite, friendly, and professional in their fields of responsibility, security and cleaners are nice and attentive.
During my studies I met a lot of highly-motivated, educated, and active people; my classmates and professors – as there are students from across the globe and invited professors – are now my professional network in Russia and worldwide. I really enjoy that we study in a modern and well-equipped building with library, café, canteen, recreational areas, comfortable rooms (check the photos on Instagram or Facebook). A range of events and meetings with experts and invited professors from Europe are conducted in English. One more thing I like most about my programme and studies: we all support each other like a big family.
I really like that HSE University St. Petersburg provides students with opportunities to research according to their background and personal interests
During my first year, Valery Gordin, professor of the Department of Economics and Management in a Social Sphere, allowed me to research Estonia’s destination promotion to the target markets of Russia and Finland based on content analysis (i.e. Estonian official documents, strategies) and netnography method (tourist photos and reviews).
I really enjoyed working on that topic with my Supervisor Ekaterina Shishova, because she always had time for to consult. This summer I was also invited to participate in research conducted by HSE Laboratory of Cultural Economics for the city of St. Petersburg brand concept. One month to collect the documents for employment – and I became employed by HSE. Now I am in progress with master thesis related to Estonia and cross-border tourism product strategy development.
Based on the story by Anželika Varblane, HSE University St. Petersburg student