Living Away from Home

Nguyen Thi Viet Phuong shares hse story of coming to study at HSE.

Living Away from Home

Hello Phuong! Thank you for joining us today. Before we start, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello, my name is Nguyen Thi Viet Phuong, I am 21 years old, and I am a second-year student studying Psychology at HSE. I am also very happy to be invited to take part in the interview.

Nguyen Thi Viet Phuong,

Psychology student at HSE

Choosing Russia as the country to study abroad is an interesting choice. What made you come to such a decision?

Since I was a child, I have seen many of my relatives returning from Russia. They were there to study. I admired them very much. At high school I liked psychology, I learned a lot of things related to this field. Besides, I also had the opportunity to participate in the National Science and Technology competition with the topic of psychology. That contest gave me the opportunity to study abroad in Russia.

If Russia is like a sudden charm, then HSE is my last choice after many days of thinking. Psychology is not really a well-known field in my country; it is something that you can barely find in Vietnamese universities. Moreover, I wanted to pursue a major in organizational psychology, but my country’s educational psychology programs did not suit.

And happily, I came across HSE; its training program suited my needs well. As for me, HSE is the university that consistently ranks at the top of the globe, and it also offers a vibrant, open learning atmosphere that makes it simpler for me to fit in when I transfered to a new institution. This is a brand-new environment with a culture that is indeed different from our Eastern culture. Besides having stressful classes, HSE is constantly bustling with intriguing extracurricular activities. I currently serve as the Vietnamese club's representative at HSE, and we just took part in the Asian festival program. I was so proud and delighted to have introduced friends throughout the world to Vietnamese culture. I had the chance to do a dance performance at the HSE’s Cultural Center that day in traditional Vietnamese costume. I then understood that my decision to stay at HSE throughout my years in Russia was the appropriate one.

I can say that psychology is an extremely challenging but fascinating field of study. What about your studies at HSE? Do you find it difficult?

In fact, there were times when I thought I was being very reckless when I decided to study psychology. My passion has been there since I was in high school, and I really wanted to pursue psychology. Undoubtedly, this is a very challenging field, and there have been numerous occasions when I felt down and wanted to give up. As psychology demands a strong foundation in language, this is where I struggled the most. Besides reading numerous books, we also discussed cases connected to psychology in class.
I vividly recall struggling with the history of psychology during my first year of college. That subject was academic to me; it was filled with many difficult words and theories to understand, especially for someone like me who has only been babbling in Russian for more than a year. I even had to retake the exam. That time of my life was so stressful. Yet, with the encouragement of my friends and my passion for psychology, I devoted all my time and energy to mastering that subject, and it was lucky that my efforts paid off, as I finished the course with a pretty good grade.

I got the chance to join in on discussions with my knowledgeable classmates, which has also helped me to expand my understanding of psychology and, at the same time, trained me in soft skills. I remember being a little girl who was very afraid of crowds, but what I learned here has helped me become bolder, dare to raise my voice and opinions, and also know how to build a response and strengthen my teamwork skills. I think this is one of the important factors in the higher education environment.

It has already been 2 years in Russia; time flies so fast! You must be very proud of yourself for such a determined effort. So, during your time here, do you have any remarkable memories?

For me, Russia has always been a dreamy and beautiful place, so right from the moment I arrived in Russia after that COVID-19 epidemic, I set out on my first trip here to Kaliningrad after being in Russia for about 3 weeks. I remember that after successfully completing the preparatory exam, I had a two-hour flight to this beautiful city. I am a girl born in a coastal city in Vietnam, which is known for having many beautiful beaches around the world, but the beaches in Kaliningrad gave me a very special impression. I was there for 5 days, and to be honest, all 5 days I visited different beaches in Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad is also famous as the city of amber stones. I was really fascinated by the beauty of these stones, and I bought some as gifts for my loved ones in Vietnam as well.

The second city I visited in Russia was Saint Petersburg. It is no exaggeration to say that this is the city that I love the most. I have been there twice; the first time was in the summer of 2021, and then I decided to spend 2 months of last year’s summer there. This city has an ancient beauty and a strangely peaceful feeling. I enjoy the relaxed, comfortable feeling when walking around the small streets in Saint, looking at the old houses, breathing, and enjoying the cool air. It is in stark contrast to the bustling, affluent atmosphere in Moscow.

Just in two years, you have learned and seen so much. Let us now focus on your plans for the next two years. Could you say a few words about it?

I will probably try my best to complete my Bachelor's program. Maybe before that, I want to travel to more places, such as Sochi or Kazan, and I also want to experience more Russian culture. Regarding study, I want to complete a graduation thesis topic that I have cherished for a long time. The learning path is still very difficult, but I believe that if I make efforts Then, perhaps before I have bigger plans for the future, I want to visit my family first. It has been more than 2 years since I have been back to Vietnam to visit my family.

Such a great plan! By balancing study and life, I hope you can fulfill all of those things, especially successfully graduating from this university. Would you like to say some words for those international students who are willing to go to Russia for study and work?

In my opinion, there is no right or wrong, good or bad decision. There are simply options and our efforts to turn those options into the best and most suitable options for ourselves. Leaving the place that is so dear to us to come and start all over again with life, relationships, and having to build for ourselves discipline and independence is an extremely difficult decision. For me, Russia is a very suitable place. The living standard is not too expensive, and the people are friendly. However, what I fear most in Russia, and also what those who want to come to Russia to study must keep in mind that the weather in Russia is extremely harsh. The winter can be extremely cold, reaching -20 or even -30° Celsius. And if you want to choose HSE as a place to stay during your study period, remember that HSE offers you many opportunities but also requires a lot of effort. The study program at HSE is not easy; it requires concentration and diligence at the highest level. But I believe these things will bring those who can strive for them something useful for the future.

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Hoàng Đặng