Student from Greece Talks about Real Russian Experience: Enrollment, Studies and Living
Being thrilled about studies at HSE University St Petersburg, Aikaterini (Katerina) Kandylidou from Thessaloniki, Greece has shared her real Russian experience of how she was enrolled for a popular Master’s degree programme ‘Experience Economy: Hospitality and Tourism’, and has given some insights into daily life in Russia.
... we only grow up when we leave our comfort zone behind us
: Experience economy: Hospitality and Tourism management
Aikaterini's short story is certain to be valuable for those who are willing to join the university and apply for 2018-2019 academic year.
Decided to enroll
I was studying in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki for a Bachelor degree in Faculty of Fine Arts, at the Theatre department. When I finished my studies I began to look for a master’s degree. Disciplines that I was interested in were about dramaturgy in theatre and in tourism management. I knew that they are very different ones but when I was a student I always worked in tourism industry and I was thinking that it could be an ideal job for me. Also, as we already know Greece faced a serious financial crisis, so, as a result, arts and especially theatre also encountered the crisis while tourism consumption increased considerably during last years. So I was thinking that it could be a great idea if I could combine somehow culture and tourism. So, one day I suddenly came across with information about Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg. I started to search a master’s degree programme, and I saw the programme named: Experience economy: Hospitality and Tourism management. I decided to make an application. I could do it free of charge (in most European universities you need to pay for an application). There was the same title of Master’s degree in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The difference was in specializations. In Saint Petersburg it was about cultural tourism and event management. I decided to put Saint Petersburg as my first choice and Moscow as a second one.
Documents and interview to do
The documents that admission required was: my Bachelor diploma, IELTS English test (no less than 6 grade), B2 in Russian language, a motivation letter, 1 or better 2 recommendation letters from professors or from working tourism industry, CV and other documents telling more about yourself (passport, national ID, etc.). I did the application and Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg sent me a confirmation that my application was admitted successfully. Though there was an option to do an online interview, I decided to make a trip to St. Petersburg so I could do my interview face-to-face and of course I could check the city. I planned my trip in last days of April and I sent the message to an International Admission Office of the University saying about exact days I would be in the city. Admission managers assisted to plan the day and time of the interview. My interview took place in the building of HSE University at the address Kantemirovskaia 3A, Saint-Petersburg. Professor that met me was Ksenia Alexceevna Kusmina. My interview was about 40-50 minutes. Questions were about my educational and working background, what researches I believed I could do in this Master (depending on my background it could be difficult for me to make researches in economics and management), and also it was explained to me some facts about Master’s degree programme. I can say that after my interview I was pretty sure that I made it well and that I had many possibilities to be accepted.
The campus, city and fee discounts
Also, I need to say that it made me very good impression the infrastructure of the HSE St. Petersburg campus. About the city - I could only say that the weather in April was not good (it was snowing too much) and, of course, for me this aspect was a bit striking. However, in general I liked the city. After one week, the University replied that I was accepted to this Master’s degree programme. The tuition fee per year was 3.000 euro. I saw that I had the right to make an application for 50% discount of the total fee of the programme (it depends on your documents and interview performance). I made it and I gained the maximum 50% discount! In summer University begins to make my student visa. As I remember they needed 30 days to make a visa invitation and then in Greece I needed it 5 days more. I came to Russia in October (I had some problems with my passport that’s why I couldn’t come in September).
Facilities, service and accommodation
The first thing that I did it was to go to the international office, then I gave some medical documents to another office and then I also took the address of the dormitory that I was going to live. Good surprise about dormitories in Russia is that they are very cheap (10 euros/per month) compared to European dormitories. After this the last thing that I made was one card with my picture with which I could pass all the buildings of the University campus and my dormitory. Dorms were at the metro station Obukhovo, not very central station but not very far from the University (about 45 min).
The other day I went to my first class: research methods and tools in economics and management. At HSE – St. Petersburg, like in other European countries also, every semester is split in two modules. When I came to Russia It was already the last week of the first module. I went to research methods-tools class, which I would take an exam in third module, in a class about educational researching seminar (exam also in 3 module) and in a class about external and internal culture in St. Petersburg. This last class was the only exam in the first module, so during the second week of my leaving in Russia I needed to prepare for my exam. I took this exam and got maximum 10 scores, that happened, first of all, because I studied a lot and, secondly, because of my cultural background. Next days I had to come up with the title for my thesis. After discussion with professors we ended up with the thesis named: ‘Overcoming seasonality through religious and pilgrimage tourism in Greece’.
In general, my life in Russian Federation is very interesting, first of all because the mentality of people is very different from European Union countries and from Greece. Every day I learn something new about history, culture and politics in Russian Federation. It’s a great opportunity for me not only to learn about tourism management but also being part of a society that is totally different from Greek. Weather, people, food, educational systems are all part of an interesting puzzle that I need to solve in my every day’s life. What I like the most in this country is how proud the people are about their country! It’s amazing to watch them talk about their culture, attractions, history... I am very proud of myself that I have chosen something so different and unique where I will not only learn educational tools for my working future but also being better person. Last but not least, I need to tell to all of us that we only grow up when we leave our comfort zone behind us.