'Take Everything from Life'
Do you know that an amazing opportunity is just around the corner this year? If you want to start a new life or discover new opportunities, you can do it at HSE University! What could be better than studying and living in another country for a full year? Academic mobility is a chance not only to study abroad, but also to meet new people, see a different culture, and—most importantly—discover new and unexpected things. It also enhances your resume for your future career.
To give you an idea of what you are signing up for, we asked HSE students Jonas Heinrich Ullrich, student of the Master’s programme ‘International Business’, and Daniyar Rakhimberdinov, student of the Bachelor’s programme ‘International Business and Management’, to share their experiences of studying abroad.
— How did you get into the exchange programme?
Jonas: I just followed the steps provided by the mobility office. They held an introductory meeting and then provided all the necessary steps. I considered three different universities for the exchange. My choice was based on preference, but also on the syllabus (courses studied during the exchange programme had to be similar to those taught at HSE University). I wasn’t accepted into my first-choice university, but my second-choice one, which I also liked. The whole procedure wasn‘t hard at all, but it was quite time consuming. I went on the exchange from September until February.
Daniyar: To take part in the competition, I had to write a motivation letter. It seemed to me that the determining factor is your ranking within your cohort, but your motivation and serious attitude are incredibly important. I can't say that getting into the top ten nominees is an extremely difficult task, but it requires putting in consistent effort from the very first days of your studies.
The most difficult task was getting a visa. I could have been delayed in getting a visa for several months, and only my ability to react quickly and persevere allowed me to get it in time. Check the set of required documents carefully and do not hesitate to contact visa centres with all your questions even if they seem stupid to you.
— What is it like to study in a different country?
Jonas: For me, studying in a different country wasn’t new, since I did my bachelor’s abroad and I am a foreign student at HSE University as well. However, it is still very nice to study abroad because it adds value to your studies and CV, and you can experience life in another country and its culture. Student organisations can be fun too because of all the activities they can offer. I really can’t say which places I liked the most in Rome, where I did my exchange, because there are about a million different incredible sights.
Daniyar: The programme in Rome is different from what we study at HSE University-St Petersburg. For example, there are no seminars at Tor Vergata University. Therefore, lectures last longer (two hours) and often take place in an interactive format. The teacher ‘thinks aloud’ a lot, asks students questions, and initiates discussions.
The campus has a friendly and international atmosphere. Local students here are relaxed and happy. There are a lot of student communities, from engineering to unusual sports such as horse riding.
The study load at Tor Vergata University is very moderate, so there is enough free time. Of course, it should be spent with maximum benefit! There are lots of opportunities to travel, since Italy is a very spectacular country! We travelled around Rome and looked into all the hidden corners that are not in the guidebooks. We have already visited Florence and Milan, and there are still plans ahead.
In Italy, you can find leisure activities to suit any mood. If you want to have fun at an international masquerade party, you're welcome to. Or vice versa, it's easy to take a walk along the Mediterranean coast alone if you are in a romantic mood.
— How did the mobility programme change you?
Jonas: It really wasn’t something new for me to live in another country because I have been living abroad for six years now. However, going abroad for a longer period of time is absolutely amazing and you really grow as a person because of your experience and various challenges you have to face.
Daniyar: Italy is an incredibly warm and emotional country. Having arrived in Italy, it is impossible to continue living in the old way: in this country, you quickly realise that you need to start thinking and acting like an Italian.
The Italian mentality is 'take everything from life!' The locals are never in a hurry; they enjoy the present moment. I also learn not to plunge into the abyss of monotonous fuss and routine; instead I get the maximum pleasure from such simple things as delicious food, warm weather, talking with friends over a cup of coffee, and walking around the ancient city.
— What advice do you have for future exchange students?
Jonas: Be aware that it can cost quite a bit of money, and there might be some costs you haven’t thought of before. Apply early, put some effort into your application, and choose your university wisely. If you can’t find information on it, especially the courses, you probably shouldn’t go there. I originally wanted to go to Spain, but every partner university there seemed to be organised horribly, which makes students’ life a lot harder.
Daniyar: Choose the mobility programme of your dreams, find out the selection criteria and start preparing for them as early as possible. Find like-minded people and work towards your goal together. Talk to students who have already been on the same programme; they will honestly tell you about all the pitfalls. Study all the requirements for citizens of your country carefully, because the registration procedure and guidelines for you may differ significantly from the rest.
Text by Yesuigen Tsogjavkhlan
If you are interested in the academic mobility programmes at HSE University-St Petersburg, you can find all the details here.