HSE – An Ideal Choice for History Students
Samrat Sil, a student from Presidency University in Kolkata, India is currently studying on the Master’s programme in Applied and Interdisciplinary History at HSE St. Petersburg. In an interview with the HSE News Service, Samrat told us about his studies and the reasons why he would recommend every history student to take the opportunity to head to HSE St. Petersburg.
The MA Programme in Applied and Interdisciplinary History is the first English-taught degree programme at HSE St. Petersburg. It focuses on the analytical part of history and how it can be used and applied in our day to day life. It comprises a wide variety of crucial topics like memory, identity narratives and the use of sources in history and historiography. It also focuses on heritage and its relation to history and economy. The students are encouraged to develop their own research topics for their Master’s thesis.
Samrat, you are currently studying at HSE in St. Petersburg. Is Russia a popular destination among Indian students? Why did you decide to come to Russia?
- It's a very popular destination among Indian students, especially among medical students, but, as afar as I know, I'm the first who came to St. Petersburg to study history. St. Petersburg is famous for its museums and historical sites, so if you’re a history student, this is the place to be!
Tell us about your first impressions of St. Petersburg.
- This is my first time in Russia, as well as my first experience abroad. I’m thrilled to be here; the city and its architecture are amazing. I like to venture out and discover more about my surroundings, so I have already been to many places, like Kazan Cathedral, Isaac's cathedral and many Russian museums.
How has your perception of Russia changed while being here?
- Back in India, people generally think that Russia is a cold place with cold people, but when I met them, my perception changed totally. They are open, warm and sociable.. Russians are interested in the surrounding world and they love to show off their own culture, as well. As an Indian, I was fascinated to see Russian culture.
I also discovered that many Russians are interested in Indian culture, too. This has been such an amazing cultural experience. I have learnt something new every day, not only at the university, but also in everyday life.
Was it hard to adjust to a new culture and environment?
- Honestly, yes, it was. I don't really speak Russian, so it was hard to get used to the new conditions during my first few weeks. But once you overcome the language barrier, it becomes a lot easier.
What do you like the most about your studies at HSE? How does the Russian higher education system differ from the Indian system?
- I love my studies at HSE. In Russia, I'm more engaged in the study process and student activities. In India we have a lot of lectures, after which we have to pass examinations. Studies in Russia are more interactive than in India; here we regularly have conversations, seminars and meetings, and the discussion often continues outside the classroom. Higher education in Russia is about learning from each other!
How did you hear about our university and the MA programme in history?
- I was looking for a university where I could do my Masters' degree, when I saw your site on the Internet. I discussed it with one of the professors in my school and he said that Russia is a place where you can learn more about history.
Do you think that studying at HSE will boost your career prospects?
-Absolutely. The education process here is very engaging; you learn more about the basic concepts. My historical knowledge is increasing; I'm opening myself up to new topics and conversations.
What advice would you give to any international students who want to study at HSE?
-Take the opportunity! You really must see St. Petersburg at least once in your lifetime. In addition, HSE offers brilliant courses. If you're a history student, HSE should be your number one destination!
What are you going to do in the future? Could you, for example, see yourself working in Russia?
-I'm going to finish my Master’s degree studies and I'm also thinking about some research projects offered by HSE. I would also like to do an internship in a Russian museum.
I can see myself working in Russia in one or two years. Maybe at the Hermitage - that's my target!
Prepared by Ida Salomaa, CIMO Trainee at the Centre for International Cooperation, HSE St. Petersburg