In Good Company
The beginning of a new academic year is a good time to tell your classmates about your summer holidays. We asked the participants of our international Summer School “Russian Studies: Identity and Political Culture” to share their experiences.
From August 9 to 25, The Summer School was held at the HSE campus in St. Petersburg. The participants included both students of HSE and international students, all of whom enjoyed a full cultural programme, fascinating lectures and seminars. But the most important part of the event was the opportunity to communicate with peers from different countries and hear their opinions on Russia. This year, the participants discussed the following topics: Russian identity, the development of civil society in Post-Soviet Russia and various aspects of international relations.
We interviewed some students who took part in the Summer School.
Darya Smirnova, Bachelor of Political Science:
I spent this August at HSE St. Petersburg! My task as a volunteer was to help with the organization and smooth running of this event. I decided to volunteer because I wanted to practice my English speaking skills, meet new people and look at the world differently. And of course, everything new always attracts me – this was my first time as a volunteer. Now I can definitely say that the experience was successful and very useful.
This adventure started in August when I met one of the foreign students at Pulkovo airport. After that, I took her to the hostel on Soyuza Pechatnikov Street, where the international students were staying for the first week. The location of the hostel is excellent – just a short walk from the city centre. The next day, their classes started, as usual, with Russian language. Then we had lectures in English with a break for lunch. I also tried to attend lectures and participate in discussions, all of which helped me to improve my English.
In our free time, we walked around the city, visited museums and cafés and enjoyed the summer in St. Petersburg. The international students had a great time discovering St. Petersburg. During my first school year I wasn’t very fond of the city or its architecture, but this summer helped me re-evaluate my opinions, and I even climbed to the top of St. Isaac’s Cathedral for the first time. The international students attending the event were all different ages and nationalities; we had participants from Denmark, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Germany and Egypt. They also had different interests, so communication with them gave me a lot. During the Summer School I also met other HSE students from other departments and other educational programs.
All in all, I have only positive thoughts about our Summer School. I’m happy that I decided to volunteer, because I spent August in good company!
Svyatoslav Derzhavin, Bachelor of Economics:
I heard about the Summer School from a student of HSE SPb. It was pure chance, but I’m very grateful to him. The Summer School included two weeks of classes. The first part of was open to everyone, and after that the students chose one of the following educational tracks: ‘Russian Culture and Society’ or ‘Russian Politics and International Relations’. During the second week I was particularly impressed by the lecture about corruption, given by Yelena Vandysheva. It was extremely interesting and informative.
Another significant and important aspect of the school was its extracurricular content. We went on an excursion to Pavlovsk and Pushkin, for which I’d like to thank the organizers. We spent the last evening on a boat; the atmosphere was great and everybody enjoyed themselves!
I liked everything about the Summer School! I want to thank the International Office, especially Yelena Chicherina and Olga Okulova for their care and warm atmosphere! I would also like to thank our instructors, Sergey Akopov, Andrey Scherbak, and Yelena Vandysheva for their professionalism. I must also mention our international guests: Gamal, Maraike, Monika, Andre and Jeppe. We would also like to give special thanks to all our participants and volunteers for all their great work in August. And thanks to our Summer School, our club, ‘Valor’ now has a talented new member!