I am a doubly happy man. Not only I studied abroad, but lived for a year in Paris, the most beautiful city in the world!
1. When and why did you decide to go to study abroad? Why did you choose that country and that University?
I have been madly fell in love with French from school-years, and all my friends joked that one day I would leave to live in Paris. The joke became true when being a senior student I accidentally saw an exchange program with Sciences Po Paris on HSE site. The name of the higher school has always seemed to be something transcendental and unreal for me (and even my French friends). This is a smith shop of the French political elite! The last four French Presidents studied there! Nevertheless, I believed in myself, addressed numerous formalities, won a scholarship of the French Government and in a few months went to a strange city for me!
2. Describe in brief the training that you have undergone. Was it helpful for you? What things were difficult? What things were easy? To what extent did the rules, the training system and the requirements differ from the Russian practice?
I really liked the education. Despite the fact that I study world economy and international business at HSE, at Sciences Po I decided to concentrate on politics and international relations courses, which were taught by notorious for political science people. It was very difficult to study a little bit different specialty, but I coped and learned a lot. My world literally turned upside down! Now I agree that the global economy and politics are inextricably linked!
The training system in the high school is somewhat similar to our own HSE, with constant supervision and cumulative scores. However, everything is much more serious, for example, two absences result in fail. I was also surprised by a large number of essays, reports, presentations, reviews, role-playing games and other forms of control. At first, it was very scary, I had to stay in the library, but due to these tasks, I learned to think clearly and structurally, to raise questions, make sense of each work and overcome difficulties. And, of course, a great experience was gained through the team tasks, because they had to be performed in international groups. I have never practiced such tasks in Russia.
3. Whom have you studied with? What were the relations with fellow students? Was it difficult to make intercultural dialogue?
It is well known fact that the French people (especially Parisians) are not the most hospitable nation, and I unfortunately agree. That's why my friends were mainly foreigners: in order not to feel lonely in a foreign country, we really had fun together. Of course, I had a culture shock every day. But is that a disadvantage? Meeting new people from all over the world gives a lot of new impressions, emotions, and interesting things to discuss! I never feel alone today, I know that my friends live in every corner of the globe, from Canada to New Zealand, from Chile to Japan. And they are looking forward to see me.
4. What skills and knowledge acquired at HSE could you apply there?
I sincerely thank all my teachers of French at HSE! Thanks to their efforts we not only looked very confident against other foreigners but feel free to speak in stores, banks and various institutions. And when I chose the economic subject instead of political one ("Economics of Inequality") just for fun of it, it was very easy for me to study it, and I got 19.5 points out of 20 for the exam. Thanks to HSE!
5. Describe in brief everyday part of your trip and living conditions. How would you characterize the environment and people? Do you feel comfortable as a foreigner?
Living in Paris was very comfortable, there were no serious problems. We even enjoyed a small monthly cash allowance for housing (CAF). But I want to warn that living in a typical French mansion of the XIX century is not only romantic, but high rents, leaking pipes, drafts, no plastic windows, elevators, etc. But all these problems can be ignored, it's Paris!
I lived in a wonderful apartment in the 15th district with two lovely neighbors, HSE students. I think the district is just perfect to stay in Paris. It is very quiet and safe there. There are many shops.
6. Was there an opportunity to travel? What was the most memorable?
Travel across the European Union with the residence permit is easy and accessible (for example, round-trip air ticket to Milan was about 37 euro), and I tried to do it as often as finances and schedule permitted. I have traveled not only about France, but visited Italy, Spain, Belgium, Holland and even Swedish more than once! I liked to travel with foreign friends, when you had to forget the existence of the Russian language completely for a few days.
7. Are you satisfied with the trip? What would you advise those guys who want to undergo an internship or training in a foreign university?
I could have written a whole book about my studies abroad, but it could not have told you how my life has changed! I'm sure that everyone has to live abroad at least for a year to feel how much it differs from the conventional tourism and how it changes the world. Paris was not just the city, but a crossroads, which opened the whole world for me! And I lived in the center of this large and whole world.
Dare, you will succeed, and this year will change your life! And when you come to study abroad, always answer "yes" to any, even the most insane suggestions! Meet, talk, walk, travel, sign up for clubs and sports, do not miss any event!
And I want to say a huge thank you to all the HSE staff and faculty that make my dream come true!