Five Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Year at HSE University-St Petersburg
If you are an international student, there is a good chance that there are some things you do not know about the university you applied to. It can be hard to adapt to a new place, new people, and—most importantly—a new educational system. That is why we asked Yesuigen Tsogjavkhlan, 2nd-year student of the Bachelor’s programme ‘Public Policy and Analytics’, to share five things she wishes she had known before coming to HSE University-St Petersburg.
I remember my first day at HSE University-St Petersburg vividly: I had mixed feelings about the new city, university and my new living space. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt this way if I had known these five things before my freshman year.
Independent examinations or assessments of HSE University
At HSE University, in addition to the general disciplines for which you go to university, professors, lectures and seminars, there are also independent examinations and assessments. Independent examinations and assessments are disciplines for which you have to prepare and study yourself. For example, at HSE University, all undergraduate students must be competent in three cross-curricular digital skills: digital literacy, programming and data analysis. These assessments are carried out independently and are recorded in each student’s diploma supplement. You should be aware that there will be disciplines for which you have to prepare individually and plan your time accordingly to learn them.
Learning how to plan out your budget is extremely valuable
There are lots of opportunities to save some money in Russia, starting from membership discount cards and ending with sales in online shops. When I first came to Russia, I made the huge mistake of buying the necessities in a big department mall. To manage your money well, get a part-time job, keep track of your expenditures, keep your receipts to refund something if you need to, get membership cards from various shops, shop online for basic goods and get the best deal you can.
Russian dorms are not as bad as you may think—especially HSE University dorms
If you decided to study in Russia, there is a high chance you have already googled images of Russian dorms, like I once did. To be honest, before coming to Russia, I emotionally prepared myself for cockroaches, rats, or living with seven roommates. But the reality is much, much better. The dorms at HSE University-St Petersburg are very safe, clean and will aid your social and academic life. You are likely to make good friends and learn about new opportunities in your dorm community.
Balance your life
You may expect that student life is about having fun 100% of the time. Yes, at HSE University you will have your fair share of parties and fun activities. Students do go to them, but there are not parties going on somewhere all the time. Especially in your first year, you may feel the 'fear of missing out' (FOMO) but don’t push yourself too hard. There are lots of components to student life and it is important to find a balance between fun activities and your studies.
Benefits of international students
If you thought that being an international student is hard, you are right—but there are some privileges that only international students have. For example, HSE University’s student academic ranking doesn’t affect international students’ tuition fee waivers. Another example is the Buddy programme, which helps international students to settle in. Buddies can meet you at the airport, help with language or settlement issues, guide you around the city or dormitory, assist you with SIM cards, and much more. There are many more opportunities and benefits of being an international student at HSE University-St Petersburg!
Text by Yesuigen Tsogjavkhlan