From Italy To Moscow

Adina Pagliaccia speaks about her oriental studies and the reason she arrived in Russia from Italy.

From Italy To Moscow

This is so marvelous to know that nowadays more and more students from foreign countries choose Russia as their study destination and Higher School of Economics as the university to study at. Today you will get acquainted with Adina, the second-year student of Moscow campus, who came to Russia in order to learn Chinese.

Hi, Adina! Tell me about yourself. At which program do you study?

Hi, Liuba! Nice to meet you. I am a second-year foreign undergraduate at Higher School of Economics in Moscow: as a matter of fact, I am from Rome, Italy. Currently I study Chinese at Asian and African Studies Programme on the economic-social trajectory.

Why did you make such a choice of an academic path? It seems very exotic.

I believe that nowadays Asia is developing and growing very fast. To my mind, it presents the best opportunities for young people eager to broaden their horizons. As in for China, I have always been interested in its ancient culture and traditions. Many people state that the Chinese language is a scary challenge to take on, but for me it is just another new world to venture in and explore. My program allows you to have a 360° view of the world while specializing in a region, what appeals to me a lot. Moreover, in Russia, in comparison to other countries, there has always been a more profound and academic approach to Oriental Studies which I took up.

What caused the preference of Higher School of Economics in Moscow?

Before applying for Higher School of Economics, I looked into various universities in different Russian cities, like Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Novosibirsk and Vladivostok. I considered various criteria, such as the rating, the dorms, the structure of the program, the climate, the possible expenditures and the most important, the possibility of scholarships for international applicants. I was very selective in my comparisons. After some time, I came to the conclusion that Higher School of Economics in Moscow was the best choice that satisfied most of them.

Were your expectations fulfilled when entering the university? With what are you satisfied most of all at Higher School of Economics?

Actually, when entering the university, I didn’t want to make myself high expectations in order to face this new reality with rationality and not remain disappointed. But I have to say that my expectations were exceeded and long gone fulfilled! Higher School of Economics is a very active and well-structured university. Its strong contacts and relations between the students, the administration and the professors are what determines its efficiency. It’s not just a simple university, it’s a living organism!

Are there other foreign students studying at your program? How did you feel while communicating with Russian students in the beginning of your stay in Russia?

Yes, there are foreigners at my program, but all of them are Russian speakers, except for one girl that came from Vietnam. She’s currently studying Korean here.

I know that you’ve been learning Russian. Tell me about your experience.

Regarding the Russian language, I have an interesting story to share. I have known Russian since I was little. In fact, it is my second language (my mother is a Russian speaker), while my mother tongue is Italian. However, as I started school in Italy, I lost it completely with time since I didn’t practice it. In the last years of high school, as I set my mind into going into the Russian university, I decided to resume studying Russian and after 3 years I took a B1 level certificate. For this reason, at first communicating with Russian students was difficult, as my vocabulary was limited, but I understood everything they said. Nonetheless, I’ve quickly adapted and now I’m more confident about my Russian skills.

Which difficulties do you face during learning Russian?

My main obstacle is that I understand almost everything, but my vocabulary is limited. Also, I often make grammar mistakes, as Russian grammar is a bit difficult for me. Still, the important is not to give up and to continue learning. With patience and practice, I’m sure, I will improve!

What about Russian people? Do their temperaments appeal to you?

What to say? At first glance, for many, Russians appear to be distant and cold, when actually they are very warm and welcoming people, always ready to help someone. I like very much their strong personalities and how they put the understanding and collaboration on first place.

How do you feel about Russia as the country to stay in? Which places have you already to visit?

Since I’ve been raised in an Italian-Russian environment, I feel Russia is like a second home for me. Russia is a very big country and it has so much to offer and to visit. Up until now, I’ve managed to visit Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Murmansk and the Karelia Region. I like that no matter the diversity of traditions that coexist in this enormous territory, there is still a strong sense of the unity that characterizes the Russian population.

Were there any difficulties in cultural adaptation when you first arrived in Russia?

As I said before, I grew up between Italian and Russian traditions, so apart from language barriers, I had no difficulties in cultural adaptation when I arrived in Russia.

It’s almost been two years you are staying in Russia, do you have new feelings about this country?

The more I’m staying in Russia, the more I’ve fallen in love with this country. It has many opportunities to catch, places to visit, new things to learn. You never know what you're going to get. It’s stimulating yet astonishing at the same time.

What strong differences between life in Russia and Italy can you name?

I believe there is one big difference between life in Russia and Italy: the attachment to traditions. Italy is a European country and thus Italians tend to have a more liberal and relaxed mentality, leading them somehow to detach themselves from their roots and traditions. On the contrary, Russia, even if it follows Western standards, doesn’t forget its origins and stands firmly for its traditions and customs. Russians, in fact, have a more conservative mentality but it doesn’t mean they aren’t open minded.

What are your future plans?

My future plans? There are many, but unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are now frozen. Firstly, I would like to travel around the world, visit Asia and all the exotic places I can, since I love its art and history.

Secondly, I plan to do a Master degree in China and work there.

Thirdly, I want to meet new people and widen my perspectives.

Last, but not least, I hope borders reopen soon so that I can finally reunite with my family and friends in Italy.

Interview by
Liubov  Zaytseva