Vincent Ade about this exchange experience at HSE Moscow

Vincent Ade, an exchange Master student from University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany), tells about his studies at HSE University Moscow during the 2021/22 academic year.

My name is Vincent, I´m a second-year Master’s student in Economics from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, and would like to share my experience as an exchange student at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

 Studying at HSE University  

As HSE University is the leading university in Economics in Russia and the post-Soviet countries, the academic level and workload are usually very high. Nevertheless, the professors will make their best to assist you if you might need any help. My advice is just, during the course selection period, to sign up for more courses you intend to take, and then after some weeks into the semester, to continue the ones which fit you the best.

Above all, HSE University offers a great opportunity to extend your Russian language skills. The Russian language center offers language courses for all levels. Contents are well-structured and groups are small, so the interaction with the teacher is very high. Especially, the courses for advanced learners are quite interesting because they give you the possibility to dive deep into topics like Russian society, politics, economics, history, or slang language. Students usually meet twice to three times with their teachers for six to eight hours in total. At first glance, spending six to eight hours a week in language classes may sound quite much, but if you take it seriously and with a little bit of effort, I can promise that huge progress is guaranteed in a comparably short period.


Living in the dormitory

Most of us exchange students were accommodated in dormitory № 5, which is not far from the center and just a few hundred meters located from the famous ВДНХ park. The dormitory is well-equipped with everything, which is necessary to have for a good stay there. Even a fitness and table tennis room can be found on the ground floor of the dormitory. Most students (usually if they plan to stay for just one semester) are assigned to a double-bed room with another exchange student. Even if you are not used to sharing your room with another person, you should keep in mind, that living with another student will make it much easier to make the first steps in a foreign city and make friends.


Everyday life in Moscow

Moscow is a very fast-moving city with wide highways, huge skyscrapers, large shopping malls, and, in the outskirts, never-ending микрорайон settlements. Nevertheless, life in Moscow is very comfortable, pleasant, and equipped with all amenities. Foremost, the public transport system is excellently developed and as well easy to understand (even if you don´t speak Russian you will easily find your way around).

Regarding nightlife, we mostly went to Rovesnik Bar (which is a nightclub) and a place, where in general a lot of students meet at weekends. Moreover, Jim & Jacks Expat Bar or Beermod are quite nice places to spend a Friday or Saturday night. Especially trying the different types of craft beer, which are quite widespread in Moscow, is highly recommended!

During the summer, a lot of open-air events, like concerts and exhibitions, are conducted in the park.

Don’t be afraid of the winter! Winter in Moscow is just special. Especially before New Year and Christmas, the city transforms into a Christmas wonderland with decorated and huge New-year trees, snowman sculptures, and ice-skating rinks. And even if you are planning to send Christmas presents home to your family, I can say that Christmas shopping in the shops around Red Square is just a pleasure! To be honest, I was even a little bit sad, when winter ended in March and all the snow passed.


Travelling and Sightseeing

For sightseeing, Moscow, and Russia, in general, has plenty to offer and discover. When traveling through Russia one will recognize the huge cultural and geographical variety and richness of the world´s largest country. Moscow itself is a great mixture of all different architectural styles, that are prevalent in Russia’s history. Rich decorated and colorful medieval churches and monasteries, dotted with golden domes are placed between 18th-century merchant houses in the foreground of epic Soviet skyscrapers.

If you once should get tired of the megapolis, the so-called Golden Ring cities are quickly reachable from Moscow and among them especially, Yaroslavl, Sergiev Posad, Suzdal, and Kostroma are worth a trip of a day or two. If you plan to travel to more far destinations, like Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, and St. Petersburg (which is as well highly recommended), I can advise you to take the night trains, which are cheap, fast and comfortable. In December, we undertook a trip behind the artic cycle to the Murmansk region, to see the northern lights, and in March to lake Baikal, to hike on the frozen lake, which both were just unforgettable experiences.


Overall impression and conclusion

First of all, Moscow is just impressive and in a way a city of dreams. It was already my third stay in Moscow and even during this quite long stay, I didn´t manage to see all sights I planned to see.

At last, my greatest advice is, just not to be afraid if you don´t know Russian or you haven´t been abroad for such a long time. For me, it was my first time staying in a foreign country for a longer period and I haven´t felt homesick one day during my stay.

I would like to say a big thank you to the Higher School of Economics of Moscow for having the great experience to study in Moscow and having the time of my life.

And hopefully: до скорой встречи )