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МЕЖДУНАРОДНОЕ СОТРУДНИЧЕСТВО ГУ-ВШЭ
Академическая мобильность: стажировки и гранты, конкурсы
Name: Daniela Keess 04/05/2006
Date of birth: 20/08/1981
University: Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt/ Main
Studies: Magister Sociology, Psychology, Politology
Stay at the HSE: Sociological faculty, 31.01.2006- 31.07.2006
Welcome to Russia
If you are open to new experiences, curious about getting to know other cultures and still searching for a place for a stay abroad, you might consider taking a closer look at Russia.
Studying Sociology at the HSE
Since the Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main is not an established partner-university of the HSE, my first contact to the HSE was made with the recommendation of a professor. After some correspondence with the International Office of the HSE it turned out that a stay of mine at the sociological faculty would be possible for a duration of six months, that is, from February until July 2006.
Organising which courses to choose was somewhat complicated, because the university divides its study-year (September until June) into five modules. I arrived in the middle of the 3rd module, which was good, as in this way I got one month to get acquainted with language and the university system before choosing the courses for the 4th module. The ones I chose, I selected from almost the whole repertoire of the faculty, as well as from the economic and the politological faculties. The timetables of the faculties are on the web page, and it is really worth checking if there are courses of your interest going on, not just in your own faculty.
There were almost no rules or regulations about what courses I was allowed to visit or not, and any problems arising concerning these matters were solved by personal agreements and the help of the dean's office. The organisational and personal support I got from the HSE went far beyond all my expectations.
Apart from the regular courses, there were also a lot of interesting conferences and evening lectures, which provided a good overview on the sociological research of the faculty, as well as on sociological questions on Russia in general. These events were usually announced at the blackboards of the university or on the web page, and were really worth visiting.
The International Office usually provides beds for foreign students in a student's dorm. There are double-bed rooms, in which one lives together with a Russian room-mate. Although at first I had to get used to the fact of not living in a room on my own, this practise is very useful for acquiring language skills, intercultural experience and social contacts to Russian students. My roommate, a 21 year old law student, and I became good friends and had a lot of fun together. Rumours on the horrible standards of Russian student's dorms I did not find verified in my dorm.
Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that there are some major restrictions. For me, the most striking differences to western dorms were the opening hours and the rule that guests staying after 11pm and overnight were forbidden. If you expect visitors, always inform the International Office several weeks in advance. It will help you to arrange a sleeping place for them.
As nearly all courses held are in Russian, at least a basic knowledge of the language is necessary. Of course, the better you become in Russian, the more information you will get from the courses. As my Russian was rather poor when I arrived, I appreciated the first month, in which I only chose lectures and no seminars, just practising to understand the language. Additionally, I joined an evening course of a private language school, but being surrounded by Russians day and night turned out to be the best way to improve my Russian skills.
There are various possibilities to do an internship during your stay in Moscow. Depending on your language skills, you can do it either in a Russian company or in an international organisation. The chances to get a place are much better if you apply directly from Moscow than if you applied from your home country. And in most cases it is possible to take off one or two days for visiting university courses. I applied and got an internship at the Heinrich Boll Foundations office in Moscow.
Moscow provides a huge offer of leisure activities for everything you can imagine. I used to go to the small bars and cafes around "Tschistie Prudy" and "Kitai Gorod" and appreciated their offer of live concerts of more or less well-known artists. Information about these events you can find on flyers in the bars or in the city magazine "Afisha" (www.afisha.ru). Besides, Russians are always ready to take a walk through the city, what is especially beautiful in the first warm days after the winter.
There are also possibilities to get engaged in voluntary work. I attended a few meetings and activities of Club "dialog", a German-Russian economist association which organizes informational and cultural events. And for sure organizing and carrying out a sociological weekend- school for pupils with "Gorod", the student's club of the sociological faculty was one of the highlights of my stay in Moscow.
All in all my stay in Moscow was a great experience, which I truly recommend to anybody. As the HSE is a rather young university, there are not as many foreign students as there are perhaps at other universities. But this means, that you will make a lot of Russian friends who will show you the Moscow which you will never find in any tourist guide.