Russian Language and Culture in Six Weeks
Every year HSE St. Petersburg offers students from all over the world to participate in its summer schools. Viritpol (Sun) Sunprugksin is one of those who came this summer to our university and shared his impressons.
I first heard about summer programs at HSE St. Petersburg while doing an online search and found the BRICS & Innovation program rather intriguing. However, a few weeks later when I was about to apply, I found out that my Russian professor here in the United States was also going to host the Language & Culture Program, a 6-week intensive summer program at your university. What a coincidence! After careful consideration, I decided to attend the intensive language course as it would help fulfill my Russian minor requirement. Nonetheless, I was still able to participate and interacted with the students and faculties in BRICS & Innovation program.
I only have positive things to say about the Language & Culture Program. Alya and Zhenya are experts in their field. I cannot thank them enough for the amount of time, effort, and energy that they have put into teaching us Russian. I went from virtually having no knowledge of the language to being able to articulate simple thoughts and conversations in Russian. Covering an equivalent of one year worth of Russian in the US in just six weeks is no easy feat. Thank you!
Other aspects of the Language & Culture program were equally exciting. I found the cultural lectures and excursions to various sites of historical significance extremely valuable. The experience has given me a much better grasp of Russia and its people and society. Additionally, being situated in St. Petersburg for six full weeks allowed me plenty of time to ventured around the city and exposed myself to the day-to-day lives of the average Russian. From the worldfamous metro system, to international cuisines, to the canals the run through the heart of the city, to walking around various parts of the city; these are the experiences that have given me such a positive impression of the country.
During my time in Russia, I was fortunate enough to be given a double-entry visa into the Russian Federation. On one of the weekend, I was able to do a quick yet thorough trip of neighbouring countries. I chose to go to Estonia and Finland. Since St. Petersburg was not too far away from these two countries, I was able to do a loop. In Estonia, I visited Narva, Tartu, and the capital Tallinn on buses and rail. Then took the ferry across to Helsinki, Finland before coming back to St. Petersburg on the Allegro high-speed train. The trip gave me the opportunity to compare and contrast the various cities and the two countries with that of St. Petersburg and Russia. Since this was my first trip to Russia, I indeed gained a much broader view of the regional relations than I would otherwise have learnt back here in the United States.
As a finance major, I was naturally very interested in the BRICS & Innovation program and made every effort to attend the lectures. My effort did not go to waste. There, I was able to interact with classmates from various European countries and discuss the transformation of developing countries spearheaded by the BRICS.
As the BRICS program was held in August, some of the Russian students at HSE returned and I made friends with many of them. In fact, they were also extremely helpful in getting me in touch with their friends in Moscow whom showed me around the Russian capital during my last weekend there. Being able to meet peers who are the same age as me in other programs was quite refreshing to say the least. The BRICS program greatly broadened my understanding of the world through interacting with these young and talented people. I genuinely enjoyed the synergy.
The highlight of my time in Russia was undoubtedly the boat trip around the canal system of the city which was held on the last day of class. It allowed me to observe the city from a very different perspective. The food and the atmosphere aboard the boat was a magnificent one. The boat trip certainly was a great way to conclude the trip, especially in terms of how much it made me appreciate the city.
My overall impression of the program? Easily, I can say with certainty, by far one of the best summer programs I have ever had. I definitely want to help spread the word about this program come back to see everybody in St. Petersburg again in the future.
Once again, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for all your hard work into creating this fabulous program. Please kindly extend my heartfelt gratitude to everybody at HSE St. Petersburg. I wish you all a fantastic year!