Semester at HSE-Nizhny Novgorod: American View
Michelle Eggen is a fourth year student from The University of New Mexico , Albuquerque. Her major is international studies. But this semester she is at Higher School of Economics - Nizhny Novgorod studying Russian language and English literature. She loves writing stories, singing, and reading.
International Students’ Club leader Zhanna Shabanova has interviewed Michelle.
Zhanna: Why did you come to Russia? Why did you choose HSE-Nizhny Novgorod?
M. : Honestly, I came to Russia because it was mandatory with my type of degree that I study abroad and I was studying Russian so I decided that Russia would be the best option for me. However, my desperate need to a unique experience was what drove me to choose Russia. HSE was basically my only option because my home university has got an exchange program agreement with HSE – N. Novgorod.
Zhanna: What can you say about Russia? What are the stereotypes of Russians and Russia in the US?
M.: It's funny, I actually made a youtube video about Russian stereotypes and if they're true or not. I think in the US people still view Russians as communists who now happen to have a democratic government (if that makes sense). Mostly because my generation doesn't know that much about Russia, and the older generation grew up constantly hearing "Russia" and "Soviet Union" in the same context. I think the stereotypes mainly include Russia as being very cold and distant, but it's just because you, the Russian, don't smile at strangers in the street like we do, but people are actually very kind and helpful if you ask for support. I would also have to say Russians are very straightforward people, while Americans are always trying to make sure they don't offend anyone. I prefer the Russian way of doing things in that regard.
Zhanna: What is the greatest thing and what is the most shocking thing you’ve experienced in Russia so far?
M.: The greatest thing I learned about Russia is how safe I feel walking alone here. I am terrified to walk alone in Albuquerque. Another thing is that companies here seem to rather keep jobs for people instead of investing in machines.
The most shocking thing is the lack of personal space in Russia. It seems to be basically nonexistent which is shocking and uncomfortable for someone that comes from a culture that almost prides itself on having personal space, and I don't even want to begin on my shock and frustration with the lack of time table with public transportation.
Zhanna: What’s the main difference between the US and HSE education?
M.: There is a big difference between US and HSE education. Here in Russia you study in groups with the same people throughout your education process, but in America you take different classes mostly with all different people.
Zhanna: Have you made any friends?
M.: I've made so many friends here from different countries!
Zhanna: What impressed you most?
M.: The cities here in Russia are so different from American cities and the sights are so beautiful. I was extremely impressed with how welcoming and surprised by how interested people were in me.
Zhanna: Would you recommend Russia as a country for life and studies?
M.: If people are looking for a completely unique experience I would recommend studying here! If someone is looking for a chance to visit a country that is full of crazy history, beautiful places and/or a place where their dollar will go pretty far I would recommend coming to Russia!
I loved Saint Petersburg! It was like a hybrid of Russia and Europe. The architecture is breathtaking, and the museums are incredible. I haven’t been to Moscow yet, but I will go there soon in December.
We went to Troitzkaya village to a horse riding center ‘Grey Horse’ ten days ago. It was such an amazing experience! Getting to eat traditional homemade Russian food, riding horses through the forest in the Russian winter and experiencing the banya was an experience I will never forget! I would really recommend people to go if they ever have the chance.