Academic Heights

Komal Mehboob Talks to an HSE Student from Afghanistan - Efat Abulfazil.

Academic Heights

Efat Abulfazil

I completed my formal education in my home country, Afghanistan. Currently, I am 21 years old and studying psychology at HSE, in my second year as an undergraduate student.

Can you discuss the challenges and restrictions faced by women in Afghanistan?

The restrictions placed on women in Afghanistan have been a longstanding issue, deeply ingrained within the societal norms. One of the significant challenge faced by women in Afghanistan is limited access to education, particularly for girls. However, I firmly believe that change begins with oneself. By prioritizing education and self-education, I am taking the first crucial step towards challenging the norms of my society.

Why did you choose Russia as your study destination?

Choosing Russia as my study destination was a well-considered decision driven by my determination not to compromise on the quality of education. In Afghanistan, the universities and education sector face various challenges and limitations that hinder the pursuit of a comprehensive and high-standard education. Recognizing the importance of receiving a quality education, I explored various countries and universities that could offer me the academic environment and opportunities I sought. During my research, I came across universities in Russia that are renowned for their high standards.

Why did you choose to study psychology, especially when there are many other popular fields like medicine and IT that students often prefer?

The reason I chose to study psychology goes beyond the allure of other fields. While medicine and IT are undoubtedly valuable areas of study, the conflict in my country has profoundly impacted the mental well-being of individuals and communities. It has created a pressing need for psychological support and interventions to address the emotional and psychological scars left by the conflict. Understanding the complexities of human behavior, trauma, and resilience will enable me to make a tangible difference in the lives of my fellow countrymen.

Why did you choose HSE specifically?

At first, I did not have the opportunity to attend HSE as I received a scholarship from Sevastopol State University, Russia, and with great enthusiasm, I embarked on my journey there to pursue my bachelor's degree. Unfortunately, the experience at Sevastopol State University was not what I had envisioned. The university environment and educational approach in Sevastopol were different from what I had anticipated. It resembled the educational system in Afghanistan. My determination to pursue a quality education led me to explore other options.

Can you share more about your decision to change university?

After spending my first year at Sevastopol State University, I realized that my educational growth was not progressing at the pace I desired. It was then that I made the decision to explore the option of transferring to a different university through migration. I began researching top universities in Moscow, considering their academic reputation, diverse opportunities, and a more suitable learning environment. During my search, HSE, the Higher School of Economics, stood out as one of the top ten universities in Russia. Its strong academic programs, innovative teaching methods, and commitment to fostering intellectual growth resonated with my aspirations. I saw HSE as a university that could provide me with the educational environment I was seeking, where I could challenge myself, grow academically, and be exposed to a vibrant academic community.

Did you encounter any obstacles in coming to HSE?

Fortunately, my migration to HSE was relatively smooth. One of the major advantages was that HSE had a dedicated faculty for managing migration processes. They efficiently handled my application for migration, acknowledging my previous academic achievements and granting me the opportunity to continue my bachelor's program from the second year. One aspect that stood out during my migration to HSE was the efficiency in handling the necessary documents and registration procedures. Unlike my experience at Sevastopol State University, where visa-related issues persisted even until the day I left, HSE promptly processed my migration documents, registration, and other necessary paperwork within a month. This streamlined approach allowed me to focus on my studies and settle into the university environment without unnecessary delays or complications.

How has HSE supported you in this transition?

HSE provided me with comprehensive support in terms of academic matters. They provided detailed information regarding my subjects, class schedules, and timetables, ensuring that I had a clear understanding of my academic requirements. Furthermore, HSE facilitated my accommodation in the dormitory, ensuring that all necessary arrangements were made in advance. Overall, the support and efficiency demonstrated by HSE played a significant role in making my transition smooth and hassle-free. Their commitment to facilitating the academic journey of students like myself is truly commendable.

What are new things that you learned while attending HSE?

One of the key areas where HSE has greatly enriched my knowledge is in the field of research methodologies. Through various courses and practical assignments, I have learned about different approaches to conducting psychological research, such as experimental design, surveys, and qualitative methods. I have also gained a solid understanding of statistical analysis techniques, including data interpretation and hypothesis testing. My experience at HSE has not only deepened my theoretical knowledge in psychology but also provided me with opportunities for professional growth. It has truly been a transformative journey.

Can you say some words about teaching techniques at HSE?

The teaching techniques at HSE foster a stimulating and collaborative environment that encourages students to become active learners and develop essential skills for their academic and professional growth. The professors at HSE implement a combination of lectures, case studies, and practical exercises to facilitate a deeper understanding of the subject matter. They integrate real-world examples and current research findings to make the content relevant and applicable.

Could you elaborate on your opinion about Moscow and Sevastopol?

Both Moscow and Sevastopol have their own unique charm. Moscow, offers a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. The city is filled with rich history, iconic landmarks such as the Red Square and the Kremlin, and a diverse cultural scene. I appreciate the multicultural environment in Moscow, as it exposes me to different traditions, cuisines, and perspectives. On the other hand, Sevastopol city, located on the beautiful Black Sea coast, has a serene and picturesque ambiance. I particularly enjoyed visiting the Black Sea during my time in Sevastopol. Additionally, Sevastopol offers a more affordable cost of living compared to Moscow, making it a favorable choice for students with limited budgets. Finding furnished accommodations at a reasonable price, around 10,000 rubles, is more attainable in Sevastopol. I find both cities captivating in their own ways.

What do you plan to do in the future?

Following my bachelor's, I plan to pursue a master's in Social Psychology at HSE and then aim to return to my country. This decision is rooted in my deep commitment to alleviating the suffering caused by war and the influence of the Taliban in my country. Having personally witnessed the devastating consequences of these disasters and belonging to a generation affected by them, I am motivated to contribute to the well-being and mental health of individuals and communities. I want to empower individuals to rise above the adversities they have faced and support them in rebuilding their lives and communities.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for prospective students considering joining the university?

I can confidently say that HSE is the ideal place for individuals who are eager to learn. The university attracts some of the brightest minds from around the globe, creating a diverse and intellectually stimulating environment. I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue my education at HSE, and I am eager to acquire the necessary tools to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who have endured the hardships of war.

Thank you, Efat!

Interview by

Komal Mehboob