Participation in HSE Illuminated Project

Ha Nguyen who has participated in HSE Illuminated Project three times shares her experiences with this online magazine.

Participation in HSE Illuminated Project

HSE Illuminated is an online magazine for students, especially for those who do not speak Russian. One of its missions is to create a friendly environment for both native and international students to exchange information. In order to fulfill this mission students from different years and faculties write for the magazine.  

Today we have a chance to talk to Ha Nguyen, one of the writers of HSE Illuminated. 

Ha Nguyen

HSE Illuminated Project participant

Before starting our little talk, could you introduce yourself with our beloved readers, please?

Hi everyone! My full name is Nguyen Thi Thanh Ha, but I’d prefer to be called Ha Nguyen or Ha for short. I’m a Vietnamese girl and I just celebrated my 23rd birthday last month. Right now I’m in the third year of my bachelor’s degree. Also, my study program is “Advertising and public relations” and I specialize in advertising. Is there anything else you’d like to know?

Yes, of course! I’m very curious about your hobbies. Do you have any hobbies related to writing?

Well, I do like writing. Ever since I was in school, I’ve loved writing. Also, my favorite subject at school is literature. I really enjoy reading literary works, from Vietnamese to foreign ones, and then writing reviews or analyses. I don’t want to brag but my writing is usually one of the best in my class. I also have other hobbies that do not relate to writing. They are music and photography. Well honestly, I listen to music every time I write something and I spend a ton of time thinking about what to write before posting photos on social media. 

Wow, this is quite interesting! So, is this the reason you decided to become a writer of HSE Illuminated?

Uhm, yes, one of many reasons.

That means there are plenty of reasons other than writing that led to your decision to join this project. Do you mind sharing with us?

Of course! Well, to be honest, I participated in this project in order to earn credits. Maybe you don’t know but my study program requires students to have at least 10 credits for projects. I started searching for appropriate ones at the project fair in the third module of my second year of university. I was not confident with my Russian and at that time I was studying online in Vietnam because of Covid-19 pandemic. Those were the reasons I mainly looked for projects where I could work remotely and speak in English with the people in charge. And then one day a friend of mine recommended this project to me. Surprisingly it suits all my requirements: working online and communicating in English. It even includes my hobby of writing. What a perfect project for me! That’s literally what I thought that time. There were many Vietnamese students who wrote for HSE Illuminated before and they also recommended that I should join with them. And now I’m here, answering all your questions.

It was very honest of you to answer this question. So what made you join this project not just once but three times? Is it just for credits?

Well, it is very dishonest of me to say no. However, the main reason is that after participating for the first time I realized that I could learn a lot through this project. I might say that every time I write for HSE Illuminated I learn something new.

What have you learnt? Could you tell us more about it?

Sure! First of all, English. Like I already told you, I like writing, but I’ve never written in English before. So this is like an opportunity for me to improve my English. Thanks to this project, my vocabulary has been expanded, like a whole lot. The next thing is writing skills. We all know that writing is not easy. After joining this project I realized that writing an article for an online magazine is harder than I thought. Writing an article is one thing but writing it interesting is another. You need to know who your readers are and what they like to read. Even if you know the answers to these questions, there is still a chance that your article could not attract readers. Maybe it’s because your writing skill is not good enough. I have to admit that my writing skill is not as qualified as I thought. Writing an article is different from writing a review or an essay. It requires different writing styles. The style can’t be too academic but also can’t be too informal. Before, I didn’t know that I also needed to write an abstract and an intro for the article. It is the abstract that makes the readers decide whether to click on your article and the intro that makes them read to the end. I used to be very sad and disappointed when my first article just got a few readers. But then it motivates me to improve my skill. Hopefully one day my article will get 100 readers.

You mentioned your first article. We all know that first things often leave a lasting impression. Do you mind telling us more about your first article?

My first article is about skin care. Well, I chose this topic, because skin care is an area that I am interested in and have a certain understanding of. It’s clear that I wanted my first article based on something that I know quite well. You can say that it’s a safe choice. I aimed at university students, especially girls who are starting to pay more attention to their skin. After talking with some of my friends, I realized that they don’t really know which product line is suitable for their skin. They often choose skin care products based on their intuition, based on the majority or based on the suggestion on the social network. They are not really interested in understanding the working mechanism of each product, its effect on skin and so on. And we all know that skin is very sensitive so just one wrong product can negatively affect our skin. That’s why I started the article about skin care with two pretty basic concepts: Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA). These two are the chemical methods that help you remove dead cells on skin. They have similarities and differences that easily cause misunderstandings for users, so in this article I mainly clarify the differences and give advice on which method is suitable for which skin type. And after doing some research for this article, I got to know more about our skin and how to take care of it. I guess this is a good start for me. 

Wow, that’s cool. However, don’t just talk about what you’ve learned, let’s talk about what you’ve achieved.

Well, first thing is knowledge. Like I already told you, after writing an article about skin care, I have a better understanding of how these methods work, how to distinguish different skin types correctly and how to choose skin care products effectively. Each of my articles is usually on different topics, so after writing each of them I gain new knowledge of different areas. The second thing is relationships. I don’t just write articles, I also write interviews. I interviewed quite a few HSE students: Vietnamese, Russian, Kazakhstani, Hungarian, Taiwanese and so on. To this day some of them I still keep in touch with.

Impressive! Do you plan to continue writing for HSE Illuminated next year?

Honestly, I haven’t thought of this yet. I’m pretty much looking forward to what I can learn from this magazine. But maybe I should give this opportunity to younger potential writers. Moreover, it also depends on my schedule for next academic year, so it’s a bit early to talk about this.

Talking about future writers, do you have any advice for them?

Don’t be afraid and join us with confidence. HSE Illuminated will bring you more interesting things than you think. Well, you can take me as an example. After participating in this project, you will greatly improve your English, your writing skills, and communication skills as well. You even have the chances to interview very cool people at HSE.

And are there any things you would like to say to our readers?

Please continue to support our amazing magazine! You’ll find a lot of interesting content here. I myself even read a lot of articles from my peers. I visited Saint Petersburg last month and thanks to an article on HSE Illuminated, I found a place worth going to in this city. And one last thing, I wish everyone is health and happiness. I hope everyone has a lot of luck and graduates smoothly. 

Thank you very much for participating in this interview! I hope the best for you too!

You too and remember: stay tuned to HSE Illuminated!

Interview by

Van Ly Vu