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.

Sangam Kumar Singh


Studying and living in Moscow is certainly quite different from India but at the same time it is also similar, because Russia and India both have rich historical traditions. Also, Moscow is a big city - it's vibrant and the people are nice and very polite. It's in some ways like any big Indian city where you can meet a lot of different people.

I enjoy the lectures and the general design of the curriculum at HSE. It is clear that a lot of effort was put into ensuring the programme meets the demands of the 21st century. After all, we are working at a time when something that was innovative yesterday could be obsolete the next day. So, you have to learn to adapt. The Big Data Systems programme is designed in such a way that you learn things from the past and but also talk about the present, what is happening right now, and then the future aspects.

After completing the Big Data Systems Master's programme, I look forward to putting my knowledge gained here into practice in business. For example, everybody wants the best product in the market. How are you going to compare? When I was working in customer interfacing, it wasn’t that the company was the only one that had that product. Similar products were available from other companies (competitors). How do you innovate within your business, so that you can fulfill the needs of the customer, at lightning speed to boot? Innovation is key to drive any business, so I see myself returning to the industry with new ideas.

Developing a Business Idea

As part of  Enterprise Architecture course, we have individual assignments and group work assignments, where we have to collaborate with people. The advantage is that we have a diverse group in the class. Students are from India, Africa, Bangladesh, South Korea, Austria, Russia and CIS countries. You work with everybody in a group assignment, people share their ideas, and there is an exchange of knowledge. It is interesting.

One group assignment was to develop a business idea. I chose a topic related to education because I feel that education is very important and a human right. You should get a minimum level of education, irrespective of which part of the world you live in. The name of the business idea I came up with is ‘Math in My Pocket’. It is aimed at closing educational gaps in society, and it is targeted at primary students. What we are seeing now is that mathematics is required everywhere, and, in my experience, people who tend to do well in math tend to do well in life, so it is very important.  But mathematics can be an intimidating subject. So you have to make sure that kids find it interesting and know there is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, I read an article on The Washington Post about parents passing on their fear of math to their kids. That's why I had this business idea.

The plan is to develop an app. It is also going to target specially-abled children. The app will be in the form of a game, because we are talking about small kids. That means, for example, if the kid is doing well, if they are able to answer some multiplication problems or other arithmetic, they get a badge, or some kind of animation, or an additional life which keeps them motivated and engaged.

Learning from Russian Industry Experts

One thing I’ve found particularly interesting is learning about how business, informatics and analytics in industry are done in the Russian market. That is an experience which people perhaps are not going to get if they are not here. We have many guest speakers coming from the industry. They mostly talk about the local Russian market, which is very interesting to hear.

What I’ve noticed is, no matter who the guest speaker is, they mostly talk about the oil & gas industry. It seems that all the biggest IT projects are in the oil & gas industry. The market and the demand in Russia are mostly domestic because the domestic demand is so high.

There is also a big difference in the way the problems are looked at. Since Russia has traditionally been good in some engineering areas, such as physics and mathematics, I see a lot of application of these concepts. Many professors of my programme have a background in mathematics and physics and  yet they teach business or informatics. It’s quite interesting because it's a different way of connecting the dots.

When it comes to the usage of software application packages, it remains the same, and as in India, here also people are encouraged to create their own start-ups and develop products. For example, I learned that some of the companies are developing their own cloud-based product. They understand that they can create a world-class product and compete with the leading players. Russian companies are engaged in different research areas and it’s nice to have the opportunity to learn about their expertise during guest talks and seminars.