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What It Is Like to Be an HSE University Student

Van Ly Vu shares her story of becaming a student of HSE.

What It Is Like to Be an HSE University Student

I clearly remember the day I first knew about HSE. It was a cold winter day in my country - Vietnam when HSE staff came to my high school and introduced HSE to us. I, at that time, hadn't even decided to study abroad, nor study in Russia. However, the introduction impressed me a lot and I decided to apply to this university. As a result, I am here writing about my experience as an HSE international student to you.

I came to Russia in October 2018 and started my preparatory year at HSE. A preparatory year is a program that is designed for international students to prepare them for their first year at the university. Since my major is Advertising and Public Relations, aside from the Russian language, I also had to study Russian Literature, History, and Sociology in my preparatory year. To be honest, I do not like studying, however, the preparatory year was very interesting and there were memories that I would never forget.

We not only studied, but we also experienced many new things. That was the first time I studied in a class that was full of students from all over the world. Some are from Asia like me, some are Europeans, some come from America. We are of different ages and come from different cultures, but this fact did not stop us from making friends with each other. We spent time hanging out together, trying new cuisine, and participating in extracurricular activities. We even invited each other to dormitories to cook our traditional dishes. Even though we are studying in different majors now, these memories will never fade.

Moreover, we also had a very good impression of the preparatory year teachers.

One of my fondest memories is making dolls out of cloth during Russian class. One of my Russian teachers is a young lady who has a lot of creative ways to teach Russian and teaching it through doll-making tutorials is one of them. The result of the lesson that day was not only vocabulary related to the topic of sewing but also the experience of making a Russian doll with our own hands. To this day, I still keep this doll carefully and put it on my bookshelf.

One of the other memories that I will always remember is the time we performed a Russian song on the night before the winter break. This was my first time performing in front of a crowd and also my first time singing a Russian song. The feeling was nervous and exciting at the same time.

I became a freshman in the autumn of 2019. HSE in general and the Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design, in particular, welcomed us with a warm and friendly admission ceremony. The moment I received my student card I was very emotional, I realized that I am a student of HSE now. However, the first weeks of my freshman year were very stressful for me. The learning environment of the first year was completely different from my school life in Vietnam and also not the same as the preparatory year. I realized that my Russian was not good enough to keep up with the lectures or seminars and I found it difficult to talk with my classmates. I got frustrated when homework, projects, deadlines kept coming. At the same time, I felt homesick, I missed my family and my friends in Vietnam. I was disappointed with myself when I got a bad mark on my test. At that time I even hated the cold weather in Russia. I felt helpless. It seemed like everything was not going my way.

However, when things got out of my control, I received support and encouragement from a lot of people.

It was my Russian teacher from preparatory year who sent me an email asking if I was okay or got used to the student life. I told him that I was not okay, I did not get used to it, I thought I should go home. However, he replied to me that everything will be alright and I just need a little more time to adapt to these changes. As a result, reality has proven what my teacher said. I can now catch up with the lectures and seminars and I no longer find it difficult to talk with my classmates. This is all thanks to the dedicated help from my teachers and classmates. They all understand my situation and they are willing to give me a hand. My teachers are ready to find materials in English and my friends are ready to communicate with me in English too. During that time, I found myself growing up more, I realized that everything will be better when there are people around who are always willing to help me out.

I officially became a sophomore last autumn. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I returned to my country and studied online for the rest of the second year. At first, everything seemed difficult because we were not used to this kind of learning yet. Communicating during class became more difficult and concentrating on the lecture was not as easy as before. But then we gradually got used to these difficulties and were able to overcome them. 

This proves that HSE students are quick to adapt to changes. 

Without a doubt, my second year went by smoothly. My fondest memory of this year is the internship at the end of the third module. Of course, we did the online internship. The representatives of the advertising and public relations companies spoke to us about their work, innovations in this industry, and even the problems they faced during the pandemic. The presentations were very rich and lively, giving me a better view of my future work. We also had to write our resumes and that made me realize that I still have a lot of shortcomings and a lot of things to improve

I am now a third-year student at HSE. Although I can come to Russia, I decided to stay in Vietnam for a while and I will return to Russia after getting fully vaccinated. I want to prepare myself well both physically and mentally for the new academic year. I am looking forward to the new things that HSE will offer me this year. I hope the epidemic situation will soon be under control and we can go to university with joy.

At the same time, I wish everyone a new academic year full of happiness and surprises.

Text by

Van Ly Vu