Physical adaptation

Please mind that your body might need some time to adapt to a new environment just the same as your mind. The chemical composition of air and water, climate and food in St. Petersburg are very different from your country. Do not panic if you feel weak, have moderate headaches or intestinal disturbances during your first days or even weeks in a new country.

Thanks to the central heating system, in the winter the air in the average housing often becomes excessively dry. It often happens that your skin becomes itchy and/or flaky and just try using baby cream first.

Focus on eating simple foods, drink more water and give yourself enough time to sleep well. However, if those symptoms are lasting for longer or deteriorate over time, do not hesitate to ask for help.

Healthcare & Insurance

All international students are obliged to have medical insurance. No healthcare services except for emergency cases will be provided to non-Russian citizens without medical insurance. You may get one in your home country (make sure it will be valid in Russia) or purchase one upon arrival (the average price is ~4,000 roubles for 12 months). Purchase policy in any insurance company of your choice or contact the Centre for International Student Support (CISS) to get specific guidance (online purchases available).

If you need urgent medical assistance, follow instructions from your insurance policy. Non-urgent medical or cosmetic manipulations are available at private clinics for the fee set by given clinic.

In emergency cases, call 112 or contact International Student Support via 24/7 the emergency phone line +7(981)-830-15-40. Upon calling, state your name, current location and the situation.

Mental health

We are all humans and may feel fragile or anxious as sometimes levels of stress are just too much for us. Moving to a new country, adapting to the new environment, and studying hard could be very challenging for anyone.

HSE University in St. Petersburg offers our students the unique option of free psychological counselling during the academic year. 

To schedule an appointment, follow the link

Culture shock

When we enter a new community and a new culture, we have to adjust to a new way of life, build new routines and adopt new behavioural patterns. Sometimes it may result in strong emotional stress often referred to as “culture shock”.

Culture shock might be tricky. After getting in contact with new culture, students might even experience the opposite feeling - euphoria. Everything may seem new, exciting and interesting, as people tend to focus first on the visible aspects of culture — food, clothes, sceneries. However, when the so-called “Honeymoon” stage ends, students might become less excited and start to feel alone, uneasy, sad or even depressed after spending some time in a new environment.

Additional symptoms of culture shock might be the following:

  • Frustration or anxiety (mood swings);
  • Extreme tiredness or insomnia;
  • Extreme homesickness;
  • Glazed stare;
  • Disorientation;
  • Excessive concern over cleanliness (everything around seems “dirty”);
  • Compulsive eating or loss of appetite;
  • Boredom;
  • Idolizing your own culture while criticizing your host culture, etc.

Please mind that these feelings are normal and will subside over time. However, here are some tips for faster recovery and transition to stability:

  1. Exercise frequently. Go for walks and/or pursue outdoors activities. Explore your surroundings, be a tourist and take in as many views as possible;
  2. Keep an open mind and try to learn from your new culture versus criticizing it;
  3. Try to make local friends so you can ask questions about the culture and get involved;
  4. Get involved by joining clubs on campus (see section Student Life)
  5. Do not hesitate to ask for help at the International Office.

With time, you will adapt to the new culture, develop your own new routines and will be able to navigate through the new culture successfully.

With time, you will adapt to the new culture, develop your own new routines and will be able to navigate through the culture successfully.