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.

Stefan Hanssen


I was drawn to the Master’s programme in financial analysis because of the courses and the professors. For me it’s really important that a professor have previous experience working in the financial sphere, and not solely in teaching. Unlike in my previous studies, which were more theoretical, I liked how a lot of the professors in my current programme have worked in the financial sector. They bring firsthand financial experience to the classroom—not simply a theoretical financial model. Plus, I had a very good relationship with my supervisor at the HSE Banking Institute, Professor Vasily Solodkov, which also motivated me to apply for this Master’s programme and remain at HSE.

Now, here I am, still in Moscow. I have been here for 1 and a half years. My plan is to stay here in Moscow and get more experience with quantitative analysis, trading, and the general sphere of banking. I would like to expand my professional network here, because I think there is a lot of potential for collaboration between Switzerland and Russia.

One thing that surprised me when I first got here was that not a lot of people speak English. But, in the end, this was actually a good thing. If everyone you meet speaks English, you will not learn Russian. Though I don’t have a lot of time outside of my studies, I have started studying Russian at home, which I enjoy.

I really like Moscow. It’s very different from Lausanne, which is a small city. I really like the atmosphere here—it’s a 24-hour city that never sleeps. I can call friends to go out—or even colleagues about something research-related—at 3 in the morning, and they will answer! In Switzerland, things are a bit more regimented.

There’s also so much to do. I now have a VK account—it’s like Russian Facebook—and I communicate there with a lot of foreign student groups and HSE student groups. Usually every couple weeks I go out with both foreign and Russian friends, and we chat in English. I also participate in a chess club. I’ve always loved chess, and, as it turns out, Russians are really good at it! A group of us (about 15-20 people) meets up at a bar every so often to talk chess and play.