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"The program ended too soon"

Anna Alexanyan, a post-graduate student of the Department of International Business, spent the fall semester of the academic year 2011/12 on an internship at Harvard University as part of cooperation program of the world economy and politics faculty, National Research University, Higher School of Economics, with the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. She shared her experiences with our portal.

-          Anna, why are you interested in this internship program?

-          This program offers a tremendous opportunity to immerse into the atmosphere of another study, which provided many opportunities for my research such as the library, courses, consultations.

-          What were the dates of your stay at Harvard?

-          I arrived in the US at the end of August to find an apartment and start my internship program in September with peace of mind. My main task was to conduct a research concerning my thesis with the help of the vast possibilities of Harvard library, attending classes and in consultation with professors. Therefore, I have spent there almost 5 months.

-          You had the opportunity to attend lectures. What lectures did you attend?

-          Back in Moscow, I received the Harvard course catalog to listen from American program coordinator Robyn Angley. I chose several courses and wrote the professors to get the permit for attending the lectures. I was lucky to get the answers and admissions. Moreover, I was encouraged by the fact that students usually attend different courses for one week at the beginning of the studies and then choose them for a semester. I did the same. Finally, I chose six courses: International Trade, International Financial Macroeconomic Policy, Psychology and Economics, Market Design and Electronic Marketplaces, Capital Market, Contract Theory. These courses have proved to be very useful for my thesis. I‘ve got a lot of information based on real-world examples. Although some courses were not directly related to the subject of my research, I found it very interesting to attend them.

In addition, I had the opportunity to consult with professors. I want to emphasize Professor Paul Antras’s assistance who is a specialist on the subject close to my research.

-          Was there an opportunity to work at the library? How was it?

-          I couldn’t stop working at Widener Library where one can find books published in every, on any subject and for every need. The fact that the books were handed out for the whole semester was a tremendous advantage. It was also possible to go down to the archives, choose books of interest and even work. It was very convenient that the library was just two minutes’ walk from the Davis Center, where my office was located. Although everything was nearby there.

The Davis Center itself had its own fund as well. On the first day, I had an appointment with a librarian Hugh Traslow who arranged an excellent excursion across the library and told how the system and other Harvard libraries systems operate.

-          Have you met new people? What was your relationship with colleagues on campus?

-          To meet new people from Harvard and in particular from the Davis Center a lot of formal and informal events and meetings on different subjects were held such as Community-building exercise (Arctic Survival Mission), Welcome Barbecue at Alexandra Vacroux's, Davis Center Art and History Tour, Holiday Brunch ... Thus very good relationships with many people were developed.

I was allowed to give a seminar on my research at Davis Center which gave me a try. In addition, my coordinator turned onto one of my hobbies, board games. In addition, we decided to organize meetings of board games fans after work in the Davis Center twice a week. Surprisingly, it has become a tradition, and these meetings are still held in the Davis Center.

-          What is the most valuable experience you got during the program?

-          The most valuable is the experience of living and studying abroad.

-          What is your most important disappointment?

-          The program ended too early.

-          Was there an opportunity to travel? What is the most memorable?

-          Yes, I had such an opportunity. When the program was over, I went to New York. I believe the city is worth visiting even once to see the architecture of the Stone Forest.

Then I went to Florida, namely Orlando. It was a great summer weather to have a rest, swim in the ocean and walk in the park.

-          What can you recommend to those who will take part in this program the next year?

-          Firstly, do not let the program slip through your fingers, as it is a great experience. Second, come to Boston for a few days before the program starts to solve all common and practical arrangements. Thirdly, enjoy the opportunity.