Be creative!

Selbi Durdyyeva, a foreign student from Turkmenistan, shares her experience of moving to Russia and adjusting to the new way of life while studying at the HSE.

Be creative!

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Hello, Selbi, please tell us what made you decide to come to Russia to study.

To tell the truth, I didn’t know for sure whether I would be getting the major in Law. My priority was the humanitarian subjects, but I didn’t give any preference to a particular program. Then I had to come to the decision between Law and Political Science. I chose the first one and I have never regretted it! I used to study at school in Aşkabat, which was in the statement of both Russia and Turkmenia Education Ministries, therefore the education was quite similar to what Russian pupils learn. That is the reason why I have chosen  Russia as a place where I would study. Also I gave favour to the HSE because it was a household name, it is known as one of the best universities in Russia, so I couldn’t help but checking the website, and now I’m here as you can see.

Selbi Durdyyeva

Can you say some words about the process of applying to HSE?

In order to get into the HSE I applied for the HSE International olympiad for foreign students. I took part in three different cases. I got first place for Law, second for Philosophy and the third for International relations. I was quite worried. I had prepared using materials that were published on the website dedicated to this olympiad, read the philosophy book and some law books. Before I got the results, I thought that I wouldn’t win because I hadn’t given any examples from the official document, instead I had written lots of my own thoughts and it worked! It seems that creativity is in favour at HSE and it’s so cool.

Do you like people around?

I was worried on my first day at the University. The thing that I’ve noticed was how different the people around were behaving and it was great and interesting. We met our curators and they made that day so exciting and memorable.

What do you like at the University the most?

I really like that the creative approach is appreciated here and you can express yourself in any way, besides I enjoy attending seminars as we discuss many interesting topics, not just a boring q&a format. We are taught to justify our point of view, and if we have some problems a teacher will always be glad to help us to solve them, to show what is the right thing and how we should do something. The EXTRA HSE is also an exciting part of university life. It provides students with the opportunity to attend different events and encourages them to take a chance and try to take part in organising such events, like you can be both sides. I have recently volunteered at “The Birthday of Faculty of Law” - it was a great experience! Besides, there are lots of clubs that you can join. I would love to get into Liberum Mare, which is an organisation that observes issues of law and shares their knowledge of it, and I really love science and writing, so this is a perfect club for me.

Did the adaptation process go smooth?

I adapt quite well, so moving to another country wasn’t a big thing to me. Though, commuting to the campus from the dorm, which is located in Dubki, is quite tiring and makes me miss the time when I had to spend only 15 minutes to get to school. I also faced some problems adjusting to the new currency and dealing with documents. Now, when it’s been a while since I moved, I am used to counting in rubles, and the HSE workers helped me to solve the second obstacle. I believe that I’ve got more independent as I understand that I’m on my own and my future depends on me, so I try to be productive and work hard.

Do you think our mindsets differ very much?

People in Turkmenistan are really narrow-minded and committed to traditional ways of living, religion is quite important as well. There is a strong distinction between things that you can do and things you cannot. In contrast to this, I’ve noticed that people in Russia are more open-minded. There is a prejudice that people here are grumpy, angry and never smile, but I’m convinced it’s not true. When I came here I made friends with lots of my group mates,who are Russian, really quickly. They are definitely outgoing and cheerful. I believe you cannot say that one type of personality represents the whole nation, it depends on the particular person.

Do you like Russian cuisine?

The Russian and Turkmenian cuisines are quite similar, so nothing new I haven’t eaten, but I really miss the way that plov and samsa are cooked in my home country as the taste is absolutely different from what I’ve tried in Russia.

What can you say to our readers or prospective students?

Don’t miss the chance to try your best taking part in contests and olympiads, even if you have lots of doubts or don’t believe you will succeed. And another thing that is useful for studying - try to think behind the ordinary way - be creative!

Interview by

Arina Farahova