Meeting Your Peers and Making Great Buddies at HSE
Prior to coming to St Petersburg, international students may anticipate some difficulty settling into a drastically new culture and lifestyle, and completing the more mundane tasks, such as navigating the transport system. However, Buddy Club at HSE St Petersburg helps make the transition smoother. Roland Mortimer, exchange student from University College London, shares his experience.
Exchange student, University College London, UK
As an exchange student from the UK, I was a little daunted at the prospect of arriving into a completely new country and immediately having to adapt to new surroundings. But from the moment I landed at the airport, there was a friendly face waiting there to help me with my luggage and to order a taxi to take me to the dormitories.
Each international student at HSE St Petersburg is assigned at least one or, in most cases, two buddies who are students at the university and will be there to offer advice and support from the moment you arrive in the city. They will be there to make your life a whole lot simpler and will assist you with getting a Russian SIM card, applying for a metro card and opening a bank account. They can also give you guidance on the various course options within your programme at HSE, including what modules are interesting (and not so interesting!).
However, the Buddy Club does not just provide a seamless transition into university life - it also helps you socialise! A few days after our arrival, a programme of social events took place at the university for international students. This included a tour around the main campus, a trip to the Hermitage Museum and a boat ride through the city’s canals. Not only was this a fantastic opportunity to meet other students across the world studying at HSE St Petersburg, but it also really broke the ice between all the foreign students looking for new friendships.
My, and my fellow classmates’, experience with the Buddy Club has only been positive. My recommendation to future foreign students at HSE St Petersburg is to make the most of it! Some buddies can be shy, so do not be afraid to reach out to them yourself with any questions you might have (even about something as trivial as restaurant or café recommendations). Every buddy will have lived in the city at least a year, so do not miss the chance to tap into their local knowledge about unique events, popular bars or the best places to get your groceries.
Finally, it should be said that the Buddy Club is one of most effective bridges between the international community and Russian students at the university. Anyone who is struggling to find friends must only look to their buddy, who will introduce them to other students in their social circle. Russian students always love talking to foreigners and will go well out of their way to help you feel more at home in their country.
I, personally, have already formed life-long friendships during my stay in Russia and have the Buddy Club to thank for making this happen!
By Roland Mortimer, an exchange student, University College London, UK