Had I Not Been On Exchange...

Four international students imaging their lives without Moscow exchange experience.

Had I Not Been On Exchange...

Each year more than 400 international students go for an exchange to HSE University in Moscow. New friends, culture shock and a lot of fun – let us find out if this is exactly what they get from the exchange. Four students from the Netherlands, UK, Italy and Mexico were asked to continue the phrase “Hadn’t I been on exchange in Moscow...” and to share their story of an unforgettable semester in Russia.

Joost Matthijs Broeders, the Netherlands

"Had I not been on exchange my life would certainly be different. Having been on exchange allowed me to get an insight in many different cultures, each with different angles of opinions on certain topics. This allowed me to get a broader view on the world and people in general. Besides that, most importantly, on my exchange I had the opportunity to meet a wide variety of amazing people with whom I still talking to on a daily basis. All in all, exchange was more than taking a few courses at another university. Exchange was a way to widen your view and develop new abilities in all kinds of ways."

Freddie Booth, United Kingdom

"If I hadn’t gone on an exchange to Moscow, I wouldn’t have had some of the most incredible experiences during my time as a student. I wouldn’t have met some of the interesting and friendly people that I had the privilege to meet whilst on my exchange. I wouldn’t have experienced what university was like in another country. I don’t believe that any other city would have left the same impression on me that Moscow has. Thanks to ESN HSE Moscow, I not only met some amazing people, I also went on numerous trips. I never thought that I would fall in love with a city so strongly but Moscow left a strong and lasting impression on me and I can’t wait to visit again soon. If I hadn’t been on an exchange to Moscow, I wouldn’t have experience first-hand what life in a dormitory in Moscow was like. It was a wonderful experience with a fantastic community, despite the fact that drinking wasn’t allowed in the building and this is a sharp contrast to the dormitories in the United Kingdom."

Gianmarco Donolato, Italy

"I wouldn't have understood how nice it is to drink a warm tea after a 10-minutes walk in February. I wouldn't have tried very peculiar kinds of food, which are hardly found in my home country. I wouldn't have rejected the stereotype that depicts Russian as cold, emotionless pieces of ice. I couldn't have travelled on a train for 23 hours to watch a world cup football match. I would have missed the opportunity to live surrounded by white snow for months. I wouldn't have felt wonderfully walking the city with Russian friends in the never ending summer evenings."

Axel Valverde Andalon, Mexico

"What would be different in my life, if I hadn't been in Moscow? Frankly, I haven't thought about it that much. Actually, we will never know. Only imagination can reveal some thoughts that I have about it. Probably, I would have felt depressed for a while, upset and angry in so many other ways. Blame whoever I could for it, however, I'm really grateful that I still feel the opposite sensations for my experience in Moscow. Words cannot describe all the emotions, feelings and experiences that I had in that amazing country, which enthralled me and changed my life. There were so many things that I learned. I could write a book about it. I don't know if it would be a best seller, but definitely would be a good one. I don't want to get into details, because I don't want to spoil it for you, but what I can tell you is that if you go to Moscow you will live the great time of your life."

Text by
Elizaveta Alekseeva