Sudakov Sergei. Studying abroad experience: A look on my scientific work and myself from a different perspective
I learned about the study placement program from the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs website (https://we.hse.ru/davis/project). There I learned about the terms of the placement, its place -- Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies (Harvard University) (http://daviscenter.fas.harvard.edu/) and also about all the required documents which are necessary to apply for the program. We had to provide a resume and a motivational letter. After I had submitted the documents I was invited for an interview to learn about my purpose of going and also to check my English abilities.
The topic of my thesis is “The influence of non-tariff barriers implementation by the USA on the US-Russia trade development”, so I had a clear objective of why I had to go to Harvard. It was to thoroughly study the literature on the subject of my research, discussing my ideas with the professors, whose names back then I had only seen on paper or on my computer screen, attending both basic and advances courses for application of the theory in my thesis. Other than that, I simply wanted to go to Harvard, it has been my dream since the 7th grade of middle school.
The placement took place during the spring semester, but, unfortunately, documents from the American side (invitation) were delayed, and I only got those by the end of January. The period of submission of the tasks to get access to comprehensive examinations for the Candidate's degree in HSE also just started. So me and the American program coordinator – back then it was Robyn Angley – have decided that it would be better to finish with all of my business in Russia and arrive to the Centre by the 1st of March.
Speaking of documents for visa application, it took me only one day to prepare and submit them, I spent another day at the American embassy, and then I got my passport with the visa in two weeks. Searching for a place to stay in the USA did not cause me much trouble either, for which I’d like to thank Anastasya Likhacheva. She introduced me to a man, at whose place I stayed for all of my placement period.
Finally, as it was initially planned, I arrived to the Davis Center on the 1st of March. I had to quickly find my way around and get accustomed to the studying process, because it was already the middle of the semester. I was offered a place at the Center, and I got my Harvard ID in a week, so I almost instantly became a full member of the scientific life in Harvard.
Speaking of my impressions and the placement outcomes, I should firstly mention an opportunity to get access to all of the Harvard’s library resources. You can use electronic resources, and you can also go to the libraries. I usually went to the Widener Library, and when I first came there I lost my way. It is so huge that you can be easily distracted from your initial search for the material and start browsing through books of a completely different subject. There is really plenty of books, and it is tempting to read if not all of the books then most of them.
A huge advantage of this placement was the fact that you can attend any classes except those that are for MBA – you should only arrange it with the professor so that they would let you to attend this particular course. The professors are really outgoing, so is the whole Harvard personnel, and I was able to attend the following classes: : Macroeconomic theory, Economics of International Financial Policy, International Trade and Investment, International Finance, Advanced Topics in International Trade. Apart from that, I also got a chance to discuss my scientific ideas with several professors. For some of my ideas and thoughts I am thankful to the professors Rawi Abdeal and Pol Antras, and also Alexandra Vacroux – the executive director of the Center, who helped me to observe the topic of my thesis “from a bird's perspective”.
Another thing I liked about the placement was that by the end of April I did a presentation on the subject of my thesis in the Davis Centre. I was talking about the theories I was going to implement in my thesis, the figures I was going to calculate and also what would be the main focus of my thesis.
Apart from science and classes, I also got to do some sports like going to the pool. An admission to the gym is really easy to apply for and it only costs about 20-30$ per semester.
I also got to participate in both Harvard’s and Boston’s cultural activities. I have attended several meetings of the Harvard’s literature club, and on one of those we got a chance to the professional translation of the poems of Vedensky from Russian into English. I have also visited some Museums – Museum of Fine Arts and MIT Museum. But I got the biggest impression from the Boston Symphony Hall, where I came to listen to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
Before I end describing my impressions from the study placement, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs for giving its postgraduate students an opportunity to go on such placements. This trip gave me a chance to look at my scientific work and even on my professional skills and myself from a new perspective. Thus I could determine my further actions, that would be useful for successfully defending my thesis.