Alina Kryuchkova: 5 Pieces of Advice on Student Exchange
Alina Kryuchkova, a third-year student of the programme “Economics”, has returned from the international academic mobility programme last summer, she has spent the spring semester at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management (ZSEM). There was no HSE student who remained indifferent after student exchange: this experience is always memorable. Alina shared her impressions about studying in Croatia and gave advice to other HSE students, who are also ready to take this opportunity.
I could not even imagine that this trip would be so important to me. It has completely changed my intentions on what I want. I remember how glad I was when I received the Acceptance letter from ZSEM. Then I realized that everything will change.
It was difficult at first. I was alone in an unfamiliar country. I was worried about my bad English, and I had a terrible fear of returning home with “F” grades which would lead to retaking exams.
Part of the doubts disappeared on my first day at ZSEM at Orientation session where I met my buddy and other exchange students. The other part was dissolved in the first week of study. I realized what I was expected to do in each subject, met with teachers and Croatian students who study there on a full-time basis. I also remember how I was worried before the first exam, since I had no idea how it would go.
After a month, I got a little bit more relaxed: everyday life became habitual, at classes I began to answer, in between I drank coffee with Croats in their favorite cafe near the university. I was even able to buy croissants in poor Croatian in the store myself. Then time began to fly very fast. I just lived: I studied, traveled around Croatia, walked in the evenings through the streets of Zagreb, tasted local dishes and constantly met new people.
What exactly has changed me? Probably, mostly this was the course “Business Communication in English”, which was a huge help in adapting and at the same time a wealth of knowledge that I have been looking for so long. I finally realized in which area I want to fully apply my skills and why I need to study at the university. I got an interest in life and an incentive to study well.
And so, I returned - with excellent grades, being fifth in the ranking, being transferred to a state-funded place and with the motivation to accurately continue my studies, living every moment of my life.
Advice to those who are still looking for themselves, want to expand their knowledge
I advise you to choose subjects not strictly according to the curriculum, but if possible in accordance with what would be interesting for you to study, to move slightly away from your defined scientific direction. After all, those disciplines that are in the HSE curriculum, in any case, will have to be completed after returning, and mobility is an opportunity to study those subjects that are not always available at HSE, expand the sphere of interests, and gain additional knowledge.
Pros: broadening your horizons, studying with pleasure and interest, working on a project instead of taking “difficult” exams, lack of fear that you will have to retake some exams, additional subjects in a transcript of records from a foreign university.
Cons: increased curriculum load, more subjects to study after returning.
P.S.: Do not forget that you can return before the end of the semester and complete the examination period both here and there right away, study some subjects yourself and come to the exam with the consent of the teacher and your academic supervisor.
Advice for students on a fee-paying places
Due to the fact that you have a fixed number of ECTS credits at the host institution for a semester, you cannot choose too many courses, but you can choose less (there is a fixed minimum for the number of loans). This is a chance to concentrate on each subject and get highest grades, and after returning to enter the top ranking or even transfer to the state-funded place as it was in my case.
Again, you can choose simple courses, where instead of exams there will be a group project, thereby you will worry less about the fact that you can return to HSE with debts.
Pros: simple courses, easier to concentrate, less anxiety, high marks, the ability to switch to a budget-fund place, more time to travel during mobility.
Cons: a larger number of subjects will move to the next academic year / two years.
Advice to those who want to become more confident with their foreign language and not only
Participate in student exchange! Definitely! And go alone. Then you will surely start to speak English. In addition, you will learn to look for accommodation, book hotels for travel, look for a bus in the large parking lot of the bus station when it arrives to another platform, keep a budget and plan your expenses, solve various issues. And you will do it yourself. Not your parents. Not friends. But you yourself! And after your return, you will calmly help foreigners find something in your country, even if they do not speak English well, you will be more open.
Pros: independence, responsibility for your life, gaining linguistic and many other life skills.
Cons: unusual emotional stress, sometimes lack of the support from the loved ones.
Advice for those who want to study abroad
International mobility is a great opportunity to try to study in another country, it’s such a test drive. You can choose the university in which you would like to get an MBA or PhD, and go there to understand whether it is the right place or not. And this is also a good opportunity to define what is required for admission and make useful contacts.
Pros: understanding what exactly is needed for admission (for example, to a Master’s programme) and useful contacts, or just an invaluable experience.
Advice to all Bachelor’s and Master’s HSE students
International mobility is real and not as difficult as it might seem. Find out when would be the next period when you can apply for it, collect the required documents and submit to the competition. If you are still not sure whether to participate, apply and rely on the occasion, let it decide for you.
If you want to ask Alina a question or get advice on participating in student exchange programmes, please contact the HSE Perm International Department Cooperation, Iuliia Babenko:
38 Studencheskaya street, office 205, tel.: +7 (342) 254-41-64