What’s it like to study in Russia? Why HSE? The answers are, of course, different for everyone. We’ve asked some of our current international students to write about their experiences, in order to give a better idea of what it’s like to study at HSE. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at inter@hse.ru.

Jonathan Dix

Colombia

Here in Moscow I study Russian language at the HSE Preparatory Year, and I also study music at Shkola Roka academy (Rock School Academy). I love music and I would like to be a great musician. I feel it is not easy for musicians to get known in countries like Venezuela or Colombia and to become famous. So, I went to Canada where I met a Russian girl who recommended me to go study in Russia.

I was looking on the internet for a programme in Russia and found HSE’s Preparatory Year. After reading about it, I thought that it would be a very good choice because it will enable me to speak two foreign languages – English and Russian (and Russian is not that popular in Colombia). Besides, life here is quite cheap, especially compared to my country, or the United States, or Canada.

In Colombia we have stereotypes of Russians. You think you are going to find drunk people everywhere. But it's nothing like that. What’s more, I was thinking that maybe the lessons were going to be very strict and probably also boring. But actually, my teacher is very good. He knows how to have a good lesson. Now I think Russia is a very good country and I like it. I live very near to Gorky Park and I have also been to VDNH, another huge park. I also went to some museums. I've been in Arbat street [pedestrian area in the centre of Moscow]. I love the street musicians there.

For the winter holidays I went to Chelyabinsk, in the Urals. It was interesting to celebrate the New Year in Russia. In Colombia, Christmas is a bigger holiday, whereas in Russia the New Year is. We went to karaoke and I was singing there the whole night – till 4 or 5 in the morning.

 During my holiday in Chelyabinsk I tried skiing and also sledding – it was great fun. This is the first time I have seen the snow. I love cold weather because in my home city it is usually very hot – between 35 and 40 degrees.

We also went to the mountains in Zlatoust, near Chelyabinsk. It was very cold there but very nice. The trip was a good opportunity to practice Russian, because people there don't know any English. I saw that I understand a lot although it was difficult sometimes.

I now have a basic level of Russian. I try to go to the cinema every week and I think I start to understand the spoken language better. It is challenging because of the grammar. But I can speak and have a conversation. Reading is my best side, it's not so difficult. I did prepare before starting the programme: I learned the alphabet and some main words, such as ‘priviet’ and ‘zdrastvuite’ (Hi, Hello). I am sure that coming to Russia here has been a very good opportunity for me.