Exchange Semester in Moscow by Florian Hertle

Florian Hertle, an exchange Master student from University of Passau (Germany), tells about his studies at HSE University Moscow during the Spring 2020 semester.

Personal reasons for choosing HSE

I chose to study at the HSE in Moscow, because in the years before, I got more and more interested in Russia and wanted to learn more about the Russian society and the political system and I thought for doing this, the best way would be to spend a semester abroad in Russia to experience Russia personally. My home university had a cooperation agreement with the HSE, so it was a logical step to apply for a place at this programme.

Support ahead of the semester

Before my stay in Moscow, I was able to look for interesting courses in the course catalogue and the offer in the fields of political science and law was really satisfactory for me. The planning process before my stay in Moscow was simplified by the help of the International Student Office of HSE, which offered several webinars about every necessary aspect of the exchange semester and sent all information how to register and get the visa in a timely and comprehensive way.

Academic quality

After having arrived safe in Russia, there was a week-long information and orientation session, which helped to get to know everything and find new friends. At the beginning of the semester, there was a certain period when you could just test courses to choose the final curriculum. This really helped me to make up my mind about which courses I like, want to add or quit. In general, I liked all my chosen courses and learned a lot. Although of course some courses were more favourited by me and some less, I can assure that all were on a high academic level and quite interactive. This didn’t change after the university had to switch to remote work, after the uprising of the COVID epidemic and I was able to finish all my courses successful from home. There is also the possiblity to take a Russian Language course on various levels and I really liked this language course as it was interactive and the teacher was really motivating.

Accomodation and free time

I lived in a student dormitory provided by the HSE next to the VDNKh park and it was only 30 minutes to dowtown Moscow and to the university. The dormitory was clean and everything you needed was available. This is another huge advantage as the rental was very cheap although it was well-situated. In my free time, I liked to explore the many sights and museums in Moscow and extremely enjoyed my time there. The offered cultural program by university groups and in the dormitory is in addition also a good possiblity to enjoy your time in Moscow.


Although I had to leave Russia after only 2 months due to COVID, I did see some parts of the country. I travelled to Murmansk and St. Petersburg, which were both amazing. I really recommend you to travel a lot when you are in Moscow, as it is quite cheap compared to Europe, especially when you travel by train.

All in all, I was reallly happy that I chose HSE and Moscow for my semester abroad and I can strongly recommend you to follow me in this choice.