Studying In Moscow: An Interview

Anna Makhotkina spoke to Syeda Ulya Ehsen Kazmi, an international student.

Studying In Moscow: An Interview

Syeda Ulya Ehsen Kazmi is 26 years old and she is from Pakistan. This is her first trip abroad, so she gladly shared with us what she encountered for this past month.

Will you, please, tell me why you decided to study in Moscow. What made you choose Russia?

Moscow as a study destination is nonetheless attractive, but what brought me here is the unique structure of MS Economics: Research Programme at Higher School of Economics.

Is there any difference between education in Pakistan and education in Russia? How are classes different there from classes here? Which class was your favorite?

Different. If I have to talk about any one, I would choose research. Research is, unfortunately, underprivileged in Pakistan. Situation in Russia is much better. According to UNESCO, Russia invests in R&D about 1.1% of GDP whereas Pakistan invests only 0.3%. Russian researcher received 31 Nobel Prizes and Pakistan has only two Nobel laureates.

Since I am currently having International Preparatory Program, which is a language course, I have not felt a great difference in classes. We used to have multimedia classes back home and it is the same here. However, teachers here are very polite and courteous.

At home, I used to love Economics and that is what I am here to pursue further. Here, as I said before, I am having the language course only, so for now, it is my favourite as well.

What challenges have you faced in the Moscow?

Hmm, challenges. I think it can be the language barrier. Sometimes it becomes difficult to communicate with people when you are not good at their language. Well, that is true for Mobile Applications as well.

How did you get involved in the community?

Well, I think this is rather early. I am in the process of getting along. I believe learning Russian would help it. However, I enjoy the company of my roommates, my groupmates and the friends I have made so far.

What were you excited about and/or nervous about before you left?

This is the first time I have stepped out of my country, so I was nervous and excited at the same time. Nervous due to the complexities of international travel and excited to land in a different country, meet new people and learn new things.

What was the most surprising thing you saw? Were there any clichés that were proven true or false?

Most surprising thing was the moment when I saw a person in metro with a word «SORRY» tattooed on his face. That was a bit of surprise. Things here are definitely different but not that much worrisome.

About clichés: when I told people at home that I was going Russia, their response often included that Russians were aggressive. Thankfully, I did not find it true. In fact, the people I came across proved to be kind, caring and helpful.

Is there anything unique about studying abroad in Moscow at this time? For example, any current events that happened?

I know that there is a lot of going on. Nationalism is at rise. The world is more polarized than ever. Financial pundits are fearing another recession in the making. Still, there is nothing in particular that influenced my decision to study here.

What do you do in your spare time? What were the locals you met like?

It depends. Sometimes I go out and explore new places like I have visited Alexander Garden, Okhotny Ryad, Revolutionary Square, Arbat Street, some shopping centers and a lot of metro stations. At other times, I prefer the coziness of my room and read a book or watch a movie.

The locals have been nice to me. They lend a helping hand and will not let you thank. Conversation is an issue at some times, but translating apps help when English does not.

What advice would you give to another student?

I would advise them to value time. Especially, the time they are spending in the university.  These years have the power of impact their entire life. They should utilize them to the fullest. Work hard, make long lasting friendships and cherish each moment.

Interview by
Anna Malhotkina