Exchange Trip to Holland
‘The ability to work as a team and the communication skills acquired at HSE undoubtedly helped me in my studies’. Nadezhda Antonova, HSE graduate in Management, spent a semester in the Netherlands as part of an exchange programme. She shared her impressions and told us about her everyday study life.
— Nadia, why did you decide to study on an exchange programme and why did you choose the Netherlands?
— Exchange education is a great opportunity to experience international studies and expand your knowledge. I chose Holland, since firstly, the level of education is high there, and secondly, I was interested in the country.
— Could you describe your typical daily study routine?
— Overall, the education process is different from that at HSE. There is more focus on independent work and applied studies. Studying, like at HSE, is divided into modules, each of which culminates in exams. Classes start at different times; studies could begin in the early morning or in the afternoon, at 3 or 4 pm. A big difference was that there was no schedule for the whole module: each day had an individual schedule. Usually there were three or four classes a day, but on some days we studied all day or didn’t have classes at all. Classes were of different lengths. There were both 45-minute and 1.5-hour lectures. There were seminars that lasted different periods of time. There were a lot of gaps between classes, which were specifically assigned for independent work. There were also projects to do during the module. In general, however, a typical study day wasn’t different from that at HSE.
— What about extracurricular activities at the university?
— Extracurricular life in Holland is not as active as at HSE in St. Petersburg. The main thing organized by students is parties, and there were about five of them during the semester. The students also organized a trip to Berlin; the student organization initiates such international trips every year. In addition to that, there were several events organized not by students, but by the faculty. These included excursions, bike trips to Belgium, and an international food night. Importantly, there are no dormitories. Students from the Netherlands rent apartments or houses, and we, exchange students, shared apartments with other students.
— What did you like the most in your studies? Did you face any language problems?
I studied management there, as I do at HSE, but the curriculum was different, since it was a programme on international management, with a focus on International Studies.
There were some language difficulties at first, since it was a little bit hard to switch from Russian to English for studying, and the terminology wasn’t always clear. But there were generally no problems in communication. Speaking of favourite subjects, I particularly enjoyed Supply Chain Management. Initially, this discipline was difficult, since there were a lot of new terms and other things that we hadn’t studied at HSE, but then I learned a lot of new and interesting things. There was also a Business Communication course, which included several stimulating debates.
— What did you like most about living and studying in the Netherlands?
— I liked how open people are, both at university and everywhere else. The lecturers go to all events and are ready to communicate openly with students. Such a style of communication is unusual for a Russian person.
— What key knowledge or skills have you acquired in your studies?
— The main skill is, I believe, the ability to learn independently. Here at HSE lecturers tell us everything in detail and very clearly, while in the Netherlands, many things are left for the individual to discover. And the main difference is that in Russia the university gives deeper knowledge, while in Holland the general direction is set by the university, and then the student is supposed to study the problem more deeply.
— What advice would you give to students who want to go on exchange programmes?
— First, of course, language proficiency is essential, since without it, it’s very hard to study, even for one semester. But, more importantly, you need to motivate yourself in advance and to understand that the study process is different from what you may be used to, and you’ll have to make a switch.
— How did the skills you got at HSE help you in studying abroad?
— First, the habit of working at a high tempo was very useful, since they have four exam sessions a year, as we do. Regularly working with big volumes of information helped me to quickly and effectively start working at a European university. The ability to work in a team, and the communication skills I’d developed at HSE were also very helpful.
Prepared by Natalia Gross