HSE and Russia - Not Just An Academic Path...

Hua Mingqiang shares his experience about international non-academic activities.

HSE and Russia - Not Just An Academic Path...

– Let's start with a brief introduction about yourself!

My name is Hua Mingqiang, you can simply call me Mingqiang. I am an international student coming from China, specifically from Shanghai. I am currently studying a preparatory year in HSE, and next year I will learn a master’s degree in International business management. 

Talking about my personality, I am confident to say that I am quite an active and energetic person. I find myself to be an easy person to make friends with, and I really enjoy making friends, especially making foreign friends. Regarding hobbies, I am a boy who loves to cook, especially Chinese food, if I have a chance I will cook and offer you some dishes! Besides that, I also love to dance and sing!

– Mingqiang, how often do you participate in extracurricular activities?

Yes! I enjoy extracurricular activities, they really bring me a lot of great things!

– After getting used to the environment at HSE neither too long nor too short, how do you feel about the students' willingness to participate in extracurricular activities here?

Well, from a student's perspective, I find that in HSE, students are educated not only in knowledge but also in soft and hard skills such as dancing, singing, sports, extracurriculars, etc. And everything is organized for free. Because of that, I see that students at HSE are not only excellent in knowledge, but they are also very active. For myself, studying here is probably a rare opportunity, I not only have the opportunity to be professionally trained, and participate in many activities, but also make friends from all over the world - Vietnam, Brazil, Africa,... And I am really grateful for that!

– So can you tell me what activities you have participated in?

Of course! Indeed, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a wide range of activities, from within HSE to the wider range.

Regarding the activities at HSE, I participated in a series of activities to integrate international students. We focus on helping foreign students, taking pictures of standees, on events. For events such as New Year and Christmas, we also have specific activities to attract the participation of students.

In addition, I have also participated in broader activities such as the China-Russia Economic Forum, the Eurasian International Forum, and the Arctic Youth Council Forum.

The Eurasian International Forum is a program to help young people in our country expand their knowledge of integration and sustainable development as well as promote the voices of youth. This is really a program that has brought me a lot of good memories as well as knowledge and skills.

The Arctic Youth Council forum was an opportunity for us to simultaneously gain knowledge and do good. There, we could learn about many creative industries and to volunteer. What I do is teaching Chinese to the children there. It doesn't seem to be my specialty, but actually, I think we helped each other: I taught them Chinese, and they helped me improve my Russian.

– As you and I both know, we are foreign students, there must be certain difficulties when you decide to participate in those activities. Can you name some of the difficulties you encountered?

Yes, indeed, when communicating between cultures, each of us has to face certain difficulties.

First of all, I have to mention the activities within HSE. To be honest, participating in activities here is still a blessing for me. The reason is that most people here can communicate in English, and some of them even know Chinese. Even though English is not my first language, and sometimes it's really hard for me to convey all that, I want to say this is a chance for us to establish a connection.

When participating in larger-scale activities, the language barrier will be greater. There are students from Russia who don't speak English, and my Russian is enough for normal communication. In those cases, we can't communicate much together.

Also, there are cultural differences, and what I needed to do was learn and respect to create a friendly atmosphere for everyone. For example, we greet different. Specifically, students from Asia, like China and Vietnam, tend to shake hands to greet each other, and European friends hug, wave, and bow. At first, everything was strange, but gradually, we got used to it, learned to say hello, and respect the greeting, and everything went very friendly right after.

In addition, when participating in the youth forum in the Arctic, I faced difficulties with the weather. I really never thought it would be a challenge in my extracurricular activities. Specifically, when I went to the North Pole, the climate was really harsh. Some days it was -20 degrees and colder than in Moscow. I have faced mobility and even health issues.

– With those difficulties, do you ever feel that you will stop participating in extracurricular activities? 

Honestly, not yet! As I mentioned at the beginning, I am a person who likes to make friends from five continents. Therefore, difficulties in culture or language never made me want to stop. Instead, I focus on improving my language skills and my knowledge. From there, I will gradually erase those problems. For the climate, it's okay! It's a feature of nature. Besides problems, I can experience beautiful scenes and natural features that are not easy to see in China or Moscow. Last time I did not prepare well, but if there will be the next time, I will learn more carefully to prepare well for the trip.

– Mingqiang, you mentioned a lot of international activities, how do you get information about those forums? 

I was quite fortunate to have the opportunity to work at the Chinese Embassy. From there, I receive a lot of information about international forums.

Besides, I also have the opportunity to get acquainted with friends who have the same hobby of making friends worldwide as me. They shared with me a lot of interesting information about the forums. I'm quite lucky!

As for the Eurasian International Student Forum, that event is delegated to the Chinese government. I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate as a student representative. I spent hours researching cultures all over the world.

In addition, I also regularly visit youth websites with information about events. They are very diverse - from voluntary to academic activities.

– What skills do you feel non-academic activities can provide to students like us? And how do they affect our future?

In my opinion, due to participating in social activities we can accumulate social, language, cultural, and even travel routing skills. We also make international friends who can help us much in the future.

As for myself, my major is international management, and international integration will be a big part of my career. Therefore, with what I am currently accumulating, I will feel more confident in my career development in the future. In addition, social skills are something that I need to have, it affects not only my career but also my daily life.

If you have a dream or hope to work in multinational enterprises, I think participating in international activities will be the best launch pad for you.

– And to end the interview, do you have any advice for students at HSE? 

I always tell myself that:

Opportunities are always in front of you!

And today, I will say the same thing to you! Do not be afraid, we are all students, there are many opportunities for us. Do not be afraid to participate in many activities, they will really bring you more benefit than harm.

– Thank you so much for sharing! Wishing you a wonderful time in Russia in the years to come!

Interview by

Thi Cam Anh Nguyen