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Regular version of the site

How I Spent the Winter: American Students Talk about Their Winter School Experience

In January, Saint Petersburg HSE Winter School hosted a group of students from Smith College, the United States. Besides courses on Russian culture and history, they had an intense programme: weekends in Moscow, going to a theatre and numerous museums, watching a hockey game, and much more. We asked some Winter School participants about their experience in Saint Petersburg and how it affected them.


- Why did you decide to participate at HSE University Winter School?

- When I was in high school I read strictly Russian literature, and it was what tethered me to some kind of ideology. It was very important to me at that time. It kind of got me through the hardest part of my entire life, so I came on this trip because I wanted to reconnect with myself that existed long before I went through this kind of traumas. And yes, that has definitely happened on this trip. So the impetus of my coming here was deeply meaningful.

- What do you study here, at HSE?

- We took a Gender Studies course, a Contemporary Cultural Politics course, and it was called Imperial Russia at the Crossroads, so it was about pre-Bolshevik Revolution.

- Which one is your favourite?

- The Gender Studies course.



- We are a little bit curious, why do you speak Russian so fluently?

- So both of my parents are from Saint Petersburg, they moved in the 90s to the US, and I was brought up speaking Russian and only Russian until I was about 6 years old. I learned how to read and write. That’s why I speak Russian.

- Is it the first time you have come to Russia?

- Yes, that’s my first time in Russia.

- And how do you like it? I mean considering your connection to the country.

- Evgeniy (the programme coordinator) asked me when we were in Moscow if I felt any connection, and at that time I didn’t really feel a connection. But then I came to Saint Petersburg and the second day here I felt like I belonged here, I felt like I was home.



- Why did you decide to participate at HSE University Winter School?

- (Speaks Russian) I have always wanted to travel to Russia and I have been studying the Russian language for two years, and my teacher asked me to come on this trip. So I came with them and it just was an opportunity to finally be able to come to Russia and speak the language I am practising.

- So you have never been here before, right?

- Yes, this is my first time.

- Any other countries?

- I’ve been to France, Germany, Switzerland, and Canada before this. Of course, the United States.


J-Term Courses

Culture of Politics / Politics of Culture: Cultural Wars and Cultural Alliances in Contemporary Russia

Lecturer: Ilya Kalinin

Imperial Russia at the Crossroads, 1800-1918

Lecturer: Tatiana Borisova

Introduction to Soviet Gender History

Lecturer: Pavel Vasilyev

Pavel Vasilyev

Department of History: Senior Lecturer

Tatiana Y. Borisova

Department of History: Associate Professor

Ilya Kalinin

Department of Philology: Associate Professor

Irina Shchemeleva

Санкт-Петербургская школа гуманитарных наук и искусств: Декан

January Term 2020 was delivered under the academic supervision of Irina Shchemeleva, the Dean of St Petersburg School of Arts and Humanities, and Evgeny Dengub, a 5 College Lecturer of Russian and co-Director of the 3 College Russian Initiative (Smith College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Mount Holyoke College) with the support of the International Office of HSE Campus in St Petersburg. The J-Term is co-organised by the programme in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at Smith College (Associate  Professor Sergey Glebov, the Director of the programme) and the Lewis Global Studies Centre at Smith College.