A Whole Different Culture: Japan
Exchange experience helps to understand other cultures and traditions.
I am from Japan and, even thought that might be strange, I have two native languages, both Russian and Japanese.
That is because I like that option the most and it was recommended to me by my curators. As for IA, I have always dreamt of entering it.
Yes, Japan and Russia are really different. As for the weirdest part of culture in Russia, it's probably spontaneity that everyone here shares. Spontaneity of actions, spontaneity of decisions, spontaneity of events.
The mentality is different. Russians tend to be much more simple-minded. Though this neither a bad nor a good feature.
I will be honest; it is hard to get nostalgic in Moscow. The only place close to that would be Moscow City. When I see skyscrapers standing closely to each other, I remember my homeland.
I like both countries. The only thing in Russia I would prefer over Japan are glazed curds. Oh, and bigger parks, Russia's territory is much bigger.
Russian cuisine is fine, but it has too many calories, I cannot eat it all the time, unfortunately.
I cannot say it is a hard or an easy one. It is medium for me; sometimes I even confuse certain phrases. The biggest different are letters instead of kanji, of course.
Adaptation overall is very hard for international students. At first, before even adjusting to HSE, I had to adjust to Russia. It took a lot of time and effort, both physical and mental. That was hard. I cannot speak for the entirety of HSE, but as for the International Affairs, it's really challenging for foreign students there, but understandably so. The subjects require reading huge texts written in Russian.
Discrimination is a controversial issue. People mostly do that accidentally, without evil second thoughts. They just do not get that what they do or say can be offensive for a foreigner, and in my case it a simple explanation was enough. As for those who do that on purpose. Well, that happens, too.
Keep holding on. Adjusting is the hardest part. However, a great experience will help a lot later in life. Also, try to draw up all the documents as quickly as you can, so that there would not be any problems with receiving medical help, etc.