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‘Applying to HSE University Was a Challenge I Was Happy to Accept’

Syrgak Erkinbek Uulu is the former head of Green HSE, a volunteer at the football World Cup, a graduate of the Republican Kyrgyz-Turkish Anatolian Lyceum for Talented Children, graduate of the HSE Faculty of Management, and master’s student at HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod. He spoke to us about moving abroad to study, what an international student can expect in Nizhny Novgorod, and the impact of HSE University on his life and interests.

‘Applying to HSE University Was a Challenge I Was Happy to Accept’

The HSE campus in Nizhny Novgorod is very active internationally, and today, almost 10% of the students come from other countries. Each one of them enriches the student life with their culture and interests, all adding to the bright and diverse community of the Nizhny Novgorod campus.

Syrgak Erkinbek Uulu was born in Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic. Before applying to university, he studied at the Republican Kyrgyz-Turkish Anatolian Lyceum for Talented Children. After graduating from the Lyceum, Syrgak applied to HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod and graduated from the bachelor’s programme at the Faculty of Management. Today, he combines studying on the master’s programme in Marketing and working at E-Promo, a performance agency. Syrgak has actively participated in the campus’s extracurricular life and headed the Green HSE – Nizhny Novgorod environmental association. While studying at HSE, Syrgak volunteered at the 2018 World Cup, and participated in both the MOST and 100 Leaders educational programmes.

How did you decide to study at HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod?

I was an active student at my Lyceum, helping to organise various events and festivals, as well as being a member of the Lyceum parliament. I’ve always been interested in studying, and, I believe this is what I do well – when I graduated, I was fourth in the Lyceum ranking. Since the 9th grade, I have been planning to study abroad and considering my options. I learned about HSE in the 11th grade from my friends, and when I found out that HSE representatives were coming to Bishkek, I immediately registered for an interview. It went very well, and I was able to attend the Nizhny Novgorod campus. After entering the university, I continued to be an active member, becoming part of the extracurricular community, and participating in various competitions, but I never forgot about my studies.

Why did you choose Nizhny Novgorod for your studies?

When I was interviewed, I was told than Nizhny Novgorod is similar to Bishkek, in terms of cost of living and the pace of life, and I understood that I would feel comfortable here. On the other hand, moving to Russia and applying to HSE University were new challenges for me, both of which I was happy to take on, and my parents supported my choice. They were ready to let me go, and I came to Nizhny Novgorod on my own, although I had travelled abroad several times before that, including Russia. My mother is a teacher, she values high-quality education and has always wanted me to study at a good university. So, I got all manner of support, and became a student at the HSE University campus in Nizhny Novgorod.

What were your first impressions of Nizhny Novgorod and HSE University?

Nizhny Novgorod exceeded all my expectations. I find it a very picturesque city, particularly since some of the locations were reconstructed in preparation for the 2018 World Cup. I’ve seen with my own eyes that Nizhny is not known as the ‘city of sunsets’ for nothing. The people are very kind and friendly here, and I have made a lot of new friends from many different countries. During my stay in Nizhny Novgorod, I have received support from the HSE administration, the students and the teachers.

What has surprised and disappointed you in Nizhny Novgorod?

I associate Nizhny Novgorod with the 442 steps of the Chkalov Staircase. I am still thrilled by how big the city is and how rich and interesting its history is. I have only one disappointment – despite all the beauty, you can still sometimes see rubbish and litter in the streets.

How have you changed during your studies?

HSE University has influenced my outlook; I think I have changed in a good way, and have become more serious. Every time I come home and talk to my parents and family, they are a little confused and keep asking me: ‘Are you the same person?’. I also want to mention that the quality of education I’ve received at HSE has been highly rated not only by my friends and family, but also by employers. The university offers a lot of practical training, and this is very useful when applying for a job. When I was a fourth-year undergraduate student, I worked at one of the big four audit companies, and since graduating I keep getting job offers. This means that the HSE University’s motto – ‘for life we study’ – is 100% true.

What should an international student who goes to study in Russia and Nizhny Novgorod in particular, be prepared for?

1.      Learn Russian well. In Russia, people talk in a way with many meanings hidden in the context, and if you don’t understand these, you will have difficulties in communication.

2.      Be prepared for the cold climate, particularly if you are from a warm country.

3.      Be ready that the culture, the country, and the people are different here. You will have a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings, so you’ll have to be able to adapt.

4.      Be prepared to get high-quality education, and, believe me, it is not easy: you’ll have a lot of deadlines and sleepless nights.