Going Abroad as a Student Exchange

A mobility programme, my own experience and an interview to the Mobility Office.

Going Abroad as a Student Exchange

Photo by Angelo Abear on Usplash

My name is Barbara Biglieri and I am about to leave for a new experience, an exchange study programme in Armenia. Because many people have asked me about it, I would like to give you some more information about the mobility programme offered by our university.

I think many of my fellow colleagues do not know about this great opportunity offered by HSE. Honestly, I was not aware of it either. When I first arrived to HSE in September I was already thinking about it, because when I was studying my bachelor degree in Italy many years before I really wanted to go to study abroad for a semester and I could not make it. The available spots were few and many students applied so I was excluded. I always thought about this missed opportunity. I believed at that time and still believe that moving to a different country to study in a different university for a semester is a wonderful experience that everyone should have the chance to have. It is always great when you live in a new country and experience the life as a local. Even more if you are a student and you can exchange your knowledge with other students and fully immerse yourself in the student life of another country. Moving to a new home, getting to know other foreign students, discovering the city and the country hosting you, meeting new professors, and see how subjects are taught sometimes even in another language, strengthening your foreign language skills, experiencing the multiculturality, opening your mind and broadening your view of the world, expanding your professional network and then bringing back to your university what you learnt is a valuable and challenging experience.

I haven’t even started my mobility programme yet, but I would like to give you some insight on my personal decision to apply and some technical info about the preparation process. And then maybe at the end of the semester I will also tell you how the actual exchange experience was!

Some of you already know that I am a master student in my first year at the School of Languages, therefore here I am giving info about the programme where I applied in Moscow. The same programme in different faculties might work differently.

This is my personal experience. Since September I wanted to ask my study office about it but, as everyone, I was very busy at the beginning trying to adapt to the new city and the new life, so time passed quite fast. I was able to ask about it only in the middle of November. First I was told that I missed the deadline. Because there are the spring semester and the fall semester. To leave for the spring semester that goes from February to July you need to apply by November. And to leave in September until December you need to apply approximately in March of the previous academic year. So I thought I was already late for the spring semester. But the luck was on my side for once. I soon found out that for some countries there were still spots available and the deadline had been extended for few weeks. And following a pattern typical in my life, I did my application at the very last minute. Usually if you apply on time you can choose 3 countries in a preference order. But because I was applying last-minute I could make only one choice and I decided for Armenia. A country that had always intrigued me and that is alligned with my educational path. This is to say that if you are interested in it, try to apply as soon as possible to avoid rushing at the last minute as I did. Once you get accepted, the burocrazy is not finished. You will have to prepare many more documents and in some cases you will need to apply for a visa. Luckily I am going to a country where I do not need a visa as I am Italian. But every case is different, so you really need to check all these details and requirements. Nevertheless I honestly believe that the ultimate goal is worth all the trouble.

Since I revealed to my classmates that I got accepted for this project, many have texted me asking for more details and how they could apply. That is why I think this article will be useful for many. All the information can be found on the website https://studyabroad.hse.ru/en/ . There are more than 27 countries to choose from. There is a list of requirementes you need to meet if you want to participate in the selection process.  It is on a competitive basis and the decision is made by an expert committee. If you are going to study at a HSE partner university, you do not have to pay tuition fee but you have to cover all the other expenses, such as visa fee, health insurance, accommodation, meals, travel expenses. Before applying you need to prepare some documents such as a motivation letter, a reference letter, an individual study plan, and a mobility budget plan among others. After that, you will need to apply online and cross your fingers. I have to say that the Mobility Office was always very helpful, if you have any question or concern they are there to help and advice.  

Speaking of which, I decided to ask few questions to Valeriya Sokolova and her colleagues of the Student International Mobility Office (SIMO). As the Deputy Director of the office her job is to help both the students going abroad and the international students coming to HSE. She does not only deal with the documentation and formal procedures, but also helps the students with any difficulty they might encounter on the way.

Valeriya, what does your job consist in? Could you tell us a bit more about what your office does?

As a mobility coordinator I advise students on participation in the exchange programmes starting from the call for nominations and finishing with credits transfer. I support them when preparing to mobility and during staying in partner universities. Student International Mobility Office deals with organization of incoming and outgoing mobility in the frameworks of the university-wide agreements at HSE University Moscow.

Why should an HSE student go to study abroad? What can they learn from this experience?

Every student has thier own purpose of participating in a mobility programme. If you read our students’ feedbacks you will understand that all of them strive for something different – meeting new people, visiting new countries, improving language skills, etc.

What are the most common difficulties that students face while on an exchange programme?

Some of the most common difficulties are culture shock, language barrier, and class expectations.

Do you have any advice or recommendation to give to our students who are considering to jump into this adventure?

We may recommend to start planning for study abroad as early as possible and be in touch with the mobility coordinators/advisors from your home and host universities and follow their recommendations!

And in case there are international students reading this article and thinking about coming to study to HSE, what would you want to tell them?

We will be more than happy to welcome you at HSE University! If you are interested in participating in an exchange programmes please contact the international office of your home university to get more details on the selection procedure. Our website will help to find out more about international students support in our University. And, we are always ready to answer your questions.

Thank you very much Valeria for your useful contribution.

To anyone who has even the slightest interest in participating in the programme, I strongly recommend you to not hesitate to investigate all your available options. And good luck to all the future exchangers!

The story by

Barbara Biglieri