Vice Versa Experience: Being An HSE Student Abroad

Rostislav Miretskiy, a fourth-year student of Media Economics, shares his personal experience and gives advice about being an exchange student.

Vice Versa Experience: Being An HSE Student Abroad

Higher School of Economics, as well as other best universities around the world, offers to its best students a great opportunity to become a participant of an exchange program for a semester at one of the universities’ partners.

This year I  took the opportunity to study abroad in Norway in the University of Agder (UiA) and I would like to share my personal experience with the readers of HSE Illuminated.

How to get there

When an initial idea of going to study abroad had sparkled in my head, I honestly had not anticipated that the whole process of application would be as easy as it has turned out. If you have a high GPA and advanced level of English language that is confirmed by certificate, you are very welcome to the Student International Mobility Office website, which provides a detailed step-by-step guide on how to apply and you can do everything online. After that, you wait a few months for a positive reply and it is time to start packing up!


The most significant challenge many of the exchange students face upon arriving in a foreign country is how to overcome the language barrier and I was no exception in this case. Before coming to Norway I was really confident about my English language skills, after all, I have been consistently learning it since elementary school and passed both Cambridge’s C1 Business Higher exam and IETLS in the past. However, during the first days of arrival, I realized that certificates do not mean anything if you do not have a constant practice of your speaking skills. Advice: do yourself a favor and practice your speaking skills for a few weeks or so before going to exchange. Eventually, I fully adapted in a couple of weeks and had no problems since then but nevertheless, in the beginning, it was actually painful when you want to say so much but you have a problem coming up with specific words because...  

Getting to know new people

You get to meet so many new people! Enlarging your cultural and social horizons is definitely one of the best experiences you have during your semester abroad. I had the opportunity to get to know not only locals, but people from all over the world, the people with whom I became particularly close are from Norway, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Greece, Romania, Spain, Vietnam, Iran, and Mexico. Advice: Do not be afraid to just walk up and say hello. Do not let your anxiety take over. Everyone is thrilled to meet each other. In adult life sometimes it is kind of hard to make friends. Use this opportunity how I did and you have my word your time at the exchange program would be fascinating.

Educational process

The educational process in Norway pretty surprised me. While in HSE you have a lot of lectures and seminars, and you always have to be prepared for the latter, in UiA in a majority of classes there are only lectures that are not obligatory and instead of the seminars most of the time you participate in group work. As a result, there is a higher emphasis on self-education as your grade consists of mid-term evaluations and final exams. Advice: pay close attention to your study plans; you do not want to miss anything as the evaluation system may differ from your home university. 

Being a parent to yourself

I was really lucky that there was wireless internet all over the university campus and grocery stores because in the first weeks I literally facetimed my mother almost every day to ask her advice about thousands of things in the context of house maintenance and other stuff like that. Advice: learn to be a parent to yourself. Remember, you are totally on your own for a long period of time, so if you don’t know how to clear the pipes and things like that, it’s better to learn it beforehand. Do not bother your parents with this stuff, you’d better call them to share your great experiences in exchange, they would be happy!

Text by
Rostislav Miretskiy