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“You either wonder and go deep into the problem or … you shouldn’t choose this program ”

Daria Chepasova, a graduate student of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, shares her experience about studying on the double-degree program “International Relations in Eurasia”.

Daria, when and why had you decided to get a master’s degree? Which particular goals had you set for yourself?
- I’ve always considered getting a master’s degree should logically follow the bachelor’s degree, so yet not having graduated from the university I was sure that my education will take up at least 6 years (according to Russian education system 4+2).  I suppose that undergraduate students gain general knowledge regarding their majors whereas master’s degree helps them to go deep into the subject that they have chosen for their future career.  Therefore, my understanding of master’s degree is connected to the opportunity to deepen my knowledge having understood their practical use after graduation.
- Why had you chosen the double-degree program “International Relations in Eurasia”?
- I have always wanted to enter HSE, and since my second year at the University, I was visiting HSE website, looking for master’s degrees. During my 4th year, I saw some double-degree programs on the list. After looking through them, I understood that I would like to enter this particular program since it perfectly fits my preferences regarding research on international relations, which could not be realized in my native town or university. It seems to me that studying international relations in a foreign country with foreign students has a greater positive effect than just getting familiar with global problems in home country university, as it is extremely interesting to compare various experts’ perspectives from different parts of the world.
- Daria, you spent your first year studying at the university of Kent in Canterbury and the second – at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Which courses and teachers were the most memorable?
- In Canterbury particularly memorable was Judith Large, who taught courses called “Theories of conflict and violence” and “The role of mediator in resolving conflicts”.   During our classes we not only discussed the literature we had read, but also watched documentaries about particular conflicts, conducted some practical experience, participated in role plays. Despite the frightening names of the courses, they were much more practical than I expected, and that is why more interesting. The teacher was always ready to help and students could meet with her apart from class hours, just like if it was an “interest club” instead of a serious studying process.
Speaking about Moscow, I would like to mention Maksim Bratersky, who immediately catches the audience’s attention.  He was always very pleasant and interesting to listen and his lectures are as easy to remember as entertaining books you’ve read.  In addition, he was always there to give an advice, to tell which approach is better for a particular research on the topic, to recommend an appropriate literature without imposing his own views.
The course “Economics of the post-soviet space” taught by professor V.N. Zuev was also very interesting, as he expressed his critical point of view, thus facilitating critical thinking among students.
- How would you assess the program: was it more theoretical or practical?
- I have a bachelor degree studying on the program called “Mathematical models in the economy”, so I would asses this humanitarian program primarily as theoretical. At the same time, it is necessary to bear in mind that development of the theoretical thought and the ability to express it in written form, and above all, the ability to find a practical use for it in the real world – that is the practical process. I would like to add that the usual remembering things would not work during this program: you either wonder and go deep into the problem or … you shouldn’t choose this program.
- Are there any differences in the education system and assessment system in the UK and in Russia?
- The learning system and the grading system varies from university to university even within city, what can we say about different countries, then?
In Britain, all the assessments were calculated according to the results of several essays. After each class we were given lists of references, at least a part of which students had to read.  To read or not to read – a personal question, no one was supposed to retell what he had read, however, students had to refer to this literature in their essays.  Your opinion matters, but what matters more is how you came to it. The evaluation system consists of 100 points and you have to understand clearly that gaining more than 70 points is unbelievably hard. If the work gets 80 points – congratulations! It deserves to be published! Perhaps, that is why you always feel a particular feeling of underestimation of your own efforts, which is supposed to transform into a desire for self-improvement. But this is the question of one’s psychology.
Moscow has both similarities and differences compared to Britain.  There are assignments that have to be completed during several classes. They consist of both essays and oral presentations accompanied with questions from teacher and students.  Your efforts are evaluated clearly, which is probably more motivating. The maximum score, which is 10, does not seem so unachievable; you just have to make an effort.
- Who studied with you? How were the relationships with you fellow students? Were there any difficulties regarding intercultural communication?
- Choosing the program you have to think about the campus placement in advance, and then difficulties with intercultural communication will disappear in a couple of days. I was not lucky as the were no free rooms on campus and I had to rent an apartment alone and met my classmates only in the classroom, and that is surely not enough! Europeans are nice, they smile a lot more than Russians do, they are easy-going, but they will never become your friends if you will communicate with them only during lectures and breaks.
- Did you have an opportunity to travel? What was the most memorable?
- That is probably one of the main advantages of studying abroad. I went to Scotland several times, to Manchester, Brighton and saw famous Stonehenge. Going to Europe is also quite simple and cheap, but you need to go through the same process to get a visa as in Moscow.
- What plans do you have for your future career? Do you plan to work in Russia or somewhere abroad?
- My six-year education has not ended yet, this year I am getting another master’s degree on regulation of energy markets in Russia and abroad (specialization within the master’s program “World Economy”, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs NRU HSE) but I already have a job according to my specialization. However, I would love to combine all my knowledge for a one particular job, but I am still on my way to this. The question about the country I would prefer to live in is still actual, you know, job is only a part of life, in my opinion, the question about the country and the city you would love to have a family in is also important.
- What could you recommend regarding the program? In which direction should it be developed?
- I would add more courses. There are a lot of interesting courses on the list still you can chose only six for a year, I suppose, that’s not enough. I would also add some practice: for example, round tables, conferences, presentations.
-What would you advise to those students who are determined to participate in double-degree program?
- I wish they had patience and perseverance as well as paying attention to the program as soon as possible in order to immediately begin addressing organizational issues. Good luck!