A Thai Student in Russia

Pat Mameesuk, a Master student at HSE, talks about his life, study, travels and expressions in Russia.

A Thai Student in Russia

Photo by Pattapong Mameesuk

Russia is a mystery country for many foreigners. And when they come here as tourists or students, each of them sees it in his own unique way. This vision often depends on their native country, language, familiar culture and weather.

Earlier we have talked about what Thailand is like through the eyes of a student from Russia, in the article «A Russian HSE Student in Thailand». Now we are talking about what Russia is like through the eyes of a student from Thailand! And also about how Thai students can enroll in Russian universities, why they should choose HSE, about Russian frosts, language, people and much more.

Hi, Pat! Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi everyone! My name is Pattapong Mameesuk, or you can call me Pat to keep it simple and more familiar. I am from the land of smile - Bangkok, Thailand and right now I’m receiving a Master's degree in Data Journalism, the Faculty of Creative Industries.

What and where did you study before entering HSE Data Journalism?

Before entering HSE University for a Bachelor’s degree I studied International Relations for Russia and CIS countries at Thammasat University in Bangkok. And a little bit about Mass Communication and Broadcasting.

Have you already worked by profession?

Yes, before I came here, I worked as a reporter and journalist for the news company named “Matichon”. I wrote and reported news about issues from all over the world, especially from China, the United States, Russia, and even Japan and South Korea in terms of politics, business and international trade as well.

Why did you decide to continue studying for a Master's Degree?

Well, because I veered myself into the field of news and journalism, but I studied mostly international relations before. One of the things I realized after starting my jobs was that I had not yet fully understood what it was like to be a good reporter or journalist and I would like to have the expertise to do it. In addition, if I have more knowledge that is specific to my profession, it will be the driving force for me to be successful in my working life as I expect. That’s why I always was trying to study more in the field of media and communications. And finally, I decided to study for a master.

Why in Russia?

I think Russia is one of the world's most interesting destinations. Also, sometimes I get answers from different perspectives because Russia has a long historical background, political, economic, religion and belief. Including fine art and modern new innovations in the world, about what many people do not know yet. At least in Thailand. I think, it is the best direction to work or study here because there are many wonder stories that are waiting for us to learn and access with love and friendliness of people nearby, so at the end you will love with this country for sure!

Why did you choose Data Journalism Programme?

At first, I didn't even know what data journalism was. I only knew that we must be prepared and deal with the huge databases of the world. So, it will be one of the tools that allow us to work better and faster in the journalism because our world becomes more modern, and everywhere there is big data. People can use data for analyses, prediction and creating new stories on its base. Big data is the future of media. That’s why I think data journalism is important field to learn and get to know more.

How did you feel when you decided to come here? Were you worried, afraid or joyful to obtain new experience?

Most of all I worried about the weather because Russia is very cold in winter. The weather here is not similar to tropical countries like Thailand. So I had to prepare mainly how to warm myself. Also, how to be with Russian people and not be homesick. People in Russia are not so smiling like Thai people. But I found them more welcome than I used to imagine. If I have any issues, I always can ask them for help. Sometimes I even think that it is good that I have it, because overcoming troubles teaches us to deal better with them and with each other in the future. It reminds us, that despite we are different, we still are together.

I always thought that it would be interesting to study and live in Moscow. I never expected that it would be dangerous for me because here are many great things that will keep me safe. For example, transportation system, that covers all city. I don’t have to spend a lot of time to go to another place or to travel, and I don’t have to worry that I will be lost. Here are many-many ways of transportation, and I can decide which one to use.

Many countries shame Russian attitude and Russian behavior. So, I think my study in Moscow is really wonderful thing that came to my life, because I have the unique opportunity to learn that in fact there are no reasons for that.

Tell us please a little about the admission process. What is to be done for this? Is the process complicated?

I came here to study because I got the opportunity with scholarship from the Russian Embassy in Thailand. In every academic year, they will promote and open applications for students interested in studying in Russia on the official website. You can search and know about the conditions there. I had to fulfill an application and send it to the embassy. After submitting the application, I had to wait for an email with an invitation to interview. And after announcing the interview result, I passed.

In the application I could choose one from six universities in Russia, as well as the field and the faculty, where I wanted to study. I decided to choose HSE because I think it is a modern and innovative university, with good atmosphere and good environment. Also, because it is located in the city center, so it is not difficult to go for classes.

After I passed the interview, I had to wait for the visa and to study Russian language for 1 year from international preparatory year programmes.

Do you think it is difficult for students from Thailand to enroll to the universities in Russia?

I don’t think it’s hard. Because we have Russian embassy in Thailand that will explain you everything step by step and will help with your questions how to fulfill an application, how to prepare documents, how to interview and how to prepare yourself for the travelling. Also, we have alumni association which has people studied in Russia or graduated from Russian universities. They always ready to help you too with some recommends, suggestions and advices. So, we don’t have to afraid to enroll universities here because whenever you face problems, we are all here to support and exchange experiences together! Including finding a suitable solution for you as well.

Please tell us more about studying here. How does it differ from the studying process in Thailand?

Studying here is completely different because in Russia we have many seminars. We have to talk, express what we are thinking, prepare information, to give opinion about our study, our homework and our ideas. At first, it made me nervous and confused about the lessons because of my weak Russian language skills. I often had to prepare and study more than my classmates. While in Thailand mostly we study from books, articles and websites. We do not focus too much on academic output that is why the atmosphere of study is not stressful. The important thing is that we also have a seminar, but it is not the same as in Russia. We spend a lot of time reading important texts or somethings like that and presenting them through short theatrical performances or storytelling through topics that interest us while exchanging views and attitudes with classmates. I think learning in new ways can be challenging because we have to prepare both physically and mentally. I believe every international student can learn from here with the same determination and enthusiasm. So please don't be afraid to comment or say what you are thinking about. Although the language of education is a barrier, but I believe that everyone in the class is ready to listen to you!

What do you like most about your studies here? The courses, teachers, classmates?

I like all actually! My academic supervisor Tina helps me with all the problems I have. Teachers are modern and young. They have good knowledges in practically everything. It’s amazing and interesting, because we can study new things and know something that we never knew before!

My classmates also are so good! All of them have good knowledge too, and we can share our thoughts and ideas in the class. It is really fantastic! We feel convenient to study together. In addition most of my classmates used to study journalism before and now have wide working experience practically every day. So it’s very useful for me to know from them about real work of journalists in Russia.

If I had to say something as a base about classmates, I would choose the word “responsive”. For the first year that I came here I had to move back in Thailand and study from there for some time because of covid-19 restrictions. And during this period every classmate helped me a lot to fix my problems, to explain homework and lessons that I could not understand in Russian. Later, when I first came into class, they all were welcome to me, said “Priviet!”. And they keep doing it every time when I go offline. I feel myself warm and good with them. Sometimes I’m a little bit nervous because most of the time they speak in Russian. In so far as I’m not very good in Russian, I cannot understand what they are talking about. But if I tell something on their language, they will understand what I try to say.

What is the hardest thing for you here?

I think the hardest thing for me is the Russian language because it is not easy and absolutely not similar to English. I started to learn it not so many years ago. And I still have to practice and to study hard to understand what people are talking about and how to pronounce correctly Russian words and sentences … Unfortunately, it’s hard for Russian people to speak English with me. So I try to practice Russian every time when it's possible.

Another difficult thing is the study – also because of the language. Even if the teacher speaks English, it’s still hard because I study something new. But mostly we study in Russian. So it may use a lot of time for me to review, to read new materials, and to prepare myself before going to class. I have to work harder than others to pass all exams.

But for other things like living or food are quite easy!

Does the language barrier interfere much? How do you handle it? And is it necessary, because many people at the HSE also speak English?

I think Russian is one of the hardest languages in the world, but I can handle it because I have translations. It is good that people in HSE can speak English, because sometimes it’s more convenient for me to understand. So we can work, learn together and understand each other in easy way. But it’s not so widespread as I thought, especially among teachers.

Is it expensive to live and study in Russia? What are your main expenses? Do you have any special scholarship or do you have savings? Do you work?

Yes, it’s a little bit expensive to live and study in Russia, because you spend a lot of money practically for everything: for your meal, for going outside, for museums, for travelling. But, fortunately, most of at least cultural places give discounts for students.

Good way for the economy is cooking meal by yourself. The only reason why I spend much money for food and ingredients is that I really like to eat, eat and eat! I enjoy spending free time on kitchen! When I have free time, I often think about new dishes and new menus.

About my sources of money. Some of it I get from the academic scholarship and Russian government scholarship for international students. It’s not much, but better than nothing. Also I have some money from my parents. They send it to me every month. And some money I get from my part-time job – I have English teaching class for kids every Sunday. And I have some savings as well.

Is it hard to get used to Russian climate, especially to our winter and frosts after the eternal summer in Thailand?

I hate winter! And I think many international students and Russian people also hate it! Snow is quite good, beautiful, cool, but in Moscow I hate it because it’s dirty. Also I hate cold and frosts! I don’t want to spend much time outside during the winter. I can handle even the spring and the autumn because temperatures are quite close to Thailand. And I really like summer weather here! But not the winter! In summer I can wear shorts and slips and easily go outside. But in winter I have to wear really a lot of clothes on me. It’s very hard to live in winter season. It’s terrible for me because I don’t get used to such cold, even despite snow is beautiful.

What do you like to do besides study and work? Please tell us about your hobbies.

My hobby in Russia is photography! I really adore taking pictures! I think environment, atmosphere, cities and culture in Russia are amazing! It’s authentic, unique and have identity that many other countries don’t have. So, I really like taking pictures of everything: of the feelings, of the atmosphere, of the city, beauty, culture, museums … When I have free time, I always going to take pictures. And if I have really-really a lot of free time, I also go to kitchen for cooking my food! I like Eastern and Western dishes and I feel happy when I cook it! If I don’t know what to do, I always can take pictures or make some food! And I think many students from abroad like it for sure!

Are there opportunities for your hobbies at the HSE?

I think they are, but I don’t have much time for joining them in the university, because I have to study hard all the time. It seems sad for me, but I believe that whenever there is a chance, of course, I will definitely join.

Have you been to any other places in Russia? Did you like them?

Yes, I have been to other Russian cities, and I really liked them. I went to Tula, Sergiev Posad, Vladimir, Suzdal, Istra, and Murmansk. Not so much, but unfortunately, I don’t have enough time for travelling. For example, last summer I had to finish my internship. But being in Moscow I spent it visiting museums, galleries, parks, some festivals and lots of other cultural events! So it was a fabulous vacation ever that I had here.

What advice can you give to those who are also thinking of applying to HSE from abroad?

I think our university is quite modern and very good for receiving education. Everything is very good here: professors, environment, atmosphere, classmates and many other things. HSE University should be joy for you to enroll, because it will give you opportunities, activities and skills, that you never had before. You will discover and explore something new, something amazing and also interesting for your future! I Our university is the thing that you really should not miss! And if you will miss it, you will be sad, because despite HSE gives us a lot of work and things to do, at least we get to know something more from this. And you always can use everything from your class, your friends and your environment not only for your study, but also for your future career or job.

You should apply to our university undoubtedly! You won’t be sad, you won’t be upset, because it’s the best university in Russia. And you will like it for sure, as I did!! Russia will give you only love and other amazing things that you never had before in your life. So don’t miss it! HSE University welcomes you here!

Interview by

Margarita Mayorova