1. Intro: Why go to Russia?
  2. Organising life
  3. Starting at uni
  4. Impressions and highlights
  5. Some pictures from Moscow
  6. Conclusion and preview

1.  Why go to Russia?

Who has ever been to Russia and lived there for a number of months? Very few people. I guess the number of people that speak fluent Russian in addition to other languages is even lower. But those were not the only reasons for my decision to pursue exactly that. For me, another reason to pursue Russian was also the choice I faced at the beginning of my studies. My program at UCL combines Economics with a language from Europe. I think I would have chosen Chinese above Russian if given the choice, but since I was limited to Europe I thought Russian would be interesting for two main reasons. First, that I had not really gotten to know Russia at all. Second, that the language is sufficiently difficult and thus worth being studied for 4 years. Spanish, French, Italian and others can be learned in a much shorter time period. All this is not to say that I was completely sure that I would enjoy my year abroad and learning Russian, especially considering that I will be here for a long time until June next year.  Looking back however, I absolutely didn’t regret my choice; here is what I think now after having lived here for a month.

2. Organising life in Moscow

Living in Moscow is nice and easy. If there was not my uni that is spread all over the city. I spend an average of 45 minutes getting to classes and the same on the way back. Moscow metro stations are extremely beautiful as you can see below, but that is not enough of an incentive to spend an hour and more in them every day. But apart from that, everything else is nice: the supermarket is close, we live in a nice dorm and although we are in double rooms my roommate is really cool so that it works out well. Furthermore, living costs are reasonable and my monthly rent amounts to less than I would pay in London for a day (although that is because it is subsidised I think). Lastly, the people I have met here are all extremely nice. I have met two kinds of people mainly. First, the dorm is full of international students that come from Europe above all others. Second and even more interesting: the Russian students at my uni are all very nice and interested in hearing from foreigners. I speak with them in Russian in the most cases, which is great practice on top of being great fun. When you find out more details of a language and understand more you discover more features of a country and its culture.

3. Starting at uni

I study at the Higher School of Economics and at the New Economic School. Both of them were founded just a couple of decades ago to provide western high quality education to Russians. When arriving on the 1st of September, I had a very hard time choosing courses for several reasons. First, the number of possible courses was very high. Second, there was no way to know how the courses would be like and whether they would fit to my preferences. Third, the process of choosing and visiting courses involved a lot of difficulties with finding classes and others. Therefore, the first 2 weeks at Uni were a hectic time full of prioritisation and trying out. Of course, that was also exciting in that I had the chance to go “shopping” in some way and tried out a number of courses. For example, basics of mobile app development was already too advanced for me but I found a different programming course instead. Moreover, I also changed my Econometrics course from one faculty to another, where I now have lectures more similar to UCL and in Russian to practice listening and speaking skills (although all the material is in English). In general, the courses I take now range from Behavioral Economics to Statistical Learning Theory. In addition, I also take private lessons to improve my Russian. Overall, studying works really well here and the things I learn are fun and interesting. I am looking forward to seeing how the further experiences compare to what I know from University College London. So far, UCL seems far more international and organised to me, while uni in Moscow is more flexible and more innovative when it comes to assessment: we do not only have one exam at the end but also have other tasks during the year.

4. Impressions and highlights

My highlights so far have all been connected to people I have met here and the opportunities I have enjoyed with them. Here is a very small overview over some of them. First, my professor in Economic Growth is really good, which makes the course and the academic development in it challenging and rewarding. Second, I met some old friends I had already gotten to know during my first visit to Russia. Third, me and some newly gained Russian friends were at a concert by a very famous Russian band called Sveri. Fourth, I have been participating in student societies for banking, finance and consulting where I have met very motivated students that where all happy to help me get settled. Fifth, I visited ultimate frisbee once and had great fun there, I even know how to throw a frisbee properly now. Sixth, I enjoyed talking to students interested in studying abroad on the open day of my university, where I was helping the uni’s year abroad team. Seventh, I volunteered at a 5k run helping with the organisation and everything. My personal highlight there was someone thinking that I am Russian even after I had talked to him. Eigth, I have just enjoyed being very busy: I leave in the morning, experience lots of interesting things and then come back in the evening. The only quite time I have is usually from 5:30 to when I leave in the morning. This has meant that I have been using my time very carefully in order to manage to do everything on the list. In order to prepare for more highlights, I have already applied for opportunities this summer and have also organised some other the activities I want to develop in: swimming starts tonight.

5. Some pictures from Moscow:

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6. Conclusions and preview

All in all, the end of this 1st month marks the transmission from the hectic time at the beginning to the actual study phase and some kind of regular weekly schedule. I am looking forward to seeing what I can still fill it with, but if everything works well I would like to catch up on everything at uni, meet as many people as possible, learn some new things (like dancing, which starts on Saturday) and prepare my summer and the 4th year well. The last 4 weeks have shown that I can expect to have a lot of fun along the way.