International Students and The Russian Language
Needless to say that the Russian language is not easy to learn, let alone speak or write. Faced with this dilemma, international students let out their views on the Russian Language and their experiences with it.
The Higher School of Economics is very intentional about making the adaptation process swift for international students. One year Russian Language Preparatory Course is aimed at assisting international students in learning and getting familiarized with the Russian Language and Culture before starting their Programs.
Today we talk to current and past students of the HSE's Russian Language School.
Benda Selly (a current student of the HSE's Russian Language School)
My name is Benda Selly, from Uganda. I am currently at HSE for a Master's Degree in Politics and Philosophy. But now I'm doing a one year Russian language prep course.
Generally good. I have met wonderful people. The language is interesting but hard. The schedule is very busy and draining. If only the schedule was more flexible, to give a student time to work, rest, then it would be a more satisfying and enjoyable experience.
Russian, History, Literature, Social studies and specialized language (I don't understand this because it repeats the same things we study in History, Literature and Social studies).
Social studies and Literature for me are the most amazing. Specialized Language is challenging for me.
Yes, definitely too much!
I do take exams. The schedule doesn't give me a chance to study and internalize content. We study from 9am to 7pm most days. On top of other responsibilities of an adult, work, family. It's hard to prepare for exams. I prepare for exams by going through my materials. During classes I usually create summaries of the class to read later because the schedule is very packed.
Yes, it's important and helps to learn the language and understand the people and culture.
It helps you settle into the country and culture. You meet amazing people and learn new things.
In terms of difficulty 9/10. Applicability 8/10.
Ifeanyi Vivian (a current student of the HSE's Russian Language School)
My name is Ifeanyi Vivian, I'm from Nigeria and I'm currently a student of the Russian Language Preparatory School.
I started the Prep year in September of 2022 and I'm set to be done in June 2023. So far it's been a difficult but interesting experience. I must say the Russian Language is one of the most difficult languages in the world and it sometimes feels so daunting that I ask myself why I even took up this challenge in the first place. I have been studying Russian for less than a year at HSE and it has been a very difficult and time consuming experience. Overall, I feel satisfied to be able to learn a foreign language. It hasn't been an easy experience but at the same time I love the challenge.
We do other subjects apart from the main Russian language like Literature, History, Social studies and Language Specialty.
I like Russian history the most because I enjoy watching and reading about historical events and people of Russia and it wasn't so difficult to understand. Surprisingly, I found Literature a bit of a headache because I couldn't understand much of what was going on in class. Maybe it might have been the teaching skills of the teacher or otherwise but it is the most difficult subject for me.
I would say it's a bit much for a beginner to learn most of these subjects in school because as a beginner our focus should be on learning the language first, mastering the speaking and writing before delving into the different subjects in the language. It would be a bit more satisfying to feel that I can actually understand and speak a language than to study courses that are not really necessary for my level as a beginner.
Yes we take examinations after every module. It has been good, not so difficult to pass. The best way for me to prepare for an exam is to attend classes and take notes in class and also go through all the assignments I had been given because I feel like it helps me to remember most of what I need for the exam. I mostly go through my jotter and homework while preparing for my exams.
Yes definitely. I feel like learning a new language is always an advantage in any sphere of life. But most importantly as a foreigner in a new country, it is very much needed to learn the language to communicate with the people of the country and I believe it will make my living experience here in Russia much more enjoyable.
Well, one of the best things that I experienced from Prep year is the avenue it created for me to interact and make new friends with people from different countries.
On a difficulty level, I will definitely rate it 9/10.
Ajuzie Esther (a former student of the HSE's Russian Language School)
Yes, the pleasure's equally mine. I am from Nigeria and I am a 1st year Master's student of Foreign Languages and Intercultural Communication.
Yes, I did it from September 2021 till June 2022.
It was bittersweet. It was fun and intense at the same time. We started off with two courses which were Russian grammar and Vocabulary. Over time, we had more courses and the workload got really intense.
We had to do Russian Literature, Russian History, Russian Social Studies and Special Languages.
Well, you can say that, but the teachers were best at what they did and a few months into the Prep year, we all were already speaking and writing to a certain extent. Personally, I could communicate properly on the streets and with few friends.
I wouldn't say I had a favorite because I liked all for different reasons actually. I liked the grammar and Vocabulary classes because they helped me improve my speech skills. I liked history and literature classes because they were mostly about stories. I liked the special languages class because it related more to our future specializations.
That was the scariest part! We had to take exams in all the courses. We had 3 or 4 exams, if I'm not mistaken. The final exam was the hardest but it was definitely feasible.
DEFINITELY! It was worth every but if it. Currently, I'm studying Spanish and my teacher teaches me Spanish in Russian. I would have been completely lost in class if I hadn't gone through the Prep year. Also on the streets, I can communicate better, read signs, find my way when I'm lost,etc. It was all worth it!
It was more about Studies. I think HSE is more about Studies than recreational activities. Well, we had some outings on festive days with our teachers and it was always fun! Other times we would go to museums or parks and take lots of pictures.
I would have given it a 10.
Thank you for having me!
Maedeh Afshar (a current student of the HSE's Russian Language School)
I’m Maedeh Afshar and I’m from Iran. I came to Russia a year ago with my family, now I'm currently a student of the Russian Language Preparatory School.
I started learning Russian 1,5 years ago with an online course. At first it was completely difficult and not understandable but then it became more logical.
In the prep year I’m studying Russian, scientific language, social studies, literature and history.
I like social studies more and find literature the most challenging one.
In my opinion the subjects are suitable but there is a little problem with literature.
Absolutely yes, as at least I have more confidence in speaking than before.
The most important part of the prep year is our friendship with other students. It was one of the most interesting experiences that I’ve ever had.
Thanks for having me.