"HSE is the Place Where Dreams Come True"
Olamide Oyelami, an Open Doors: Global University Olympiad winner and master student of Strategic Corporate Finance program about her study in Russia experience. Registration to the Open Doors Olympiad is open until December 10, 2022
"I expected it to be cold, but not even my expectation prepared me for what I experienced"
The cold wind slapped my face as I stepped out of the airport. I had expected it to be cold; that was about the only thing I knew about the country I had agreed to come to, but not even my expectation prepared me for what I experienced. Along with over seventy other students, I ran to the bus arranged to take us to Voronezh, my home for the next five years.
I had been a beneficiary of the scholarship offered by the Bilateral Education Agreement between the Nigeria, Federal Scholarship Board and Russia.
Studying economics was my desire, so it was no surprise when I selected it as my course of study during the scholarship application. The scholarship committee did their research and thought it best to send us to Voronezh State University.
"Hard work, faith, and growth"
I remember my first-class experience. I was seated on the second row. There were not so many students, maybe because they wanted the teacher to have ample time to take us through the critical stage of learning the language. Our outcome for the remaining years rested on the foundation laid by a one-year preparatory class.
We had to start by saying our names. The teacher asked if anyone had a little experience with the language, maybe from personal study. I did not; I was too preoccupied preparing to leave my family for another country, miles apart.
We started with the Russian alphabet, and soon we were making sentences like "Это Он" and the like. Soon, we were writing tests and conversing with our teacher in Russian.
I would summarize my studying Russian experience in three words, "hard work, faith, and growth."
Voronezh chapter of the Association of Scholarship Students in Russia
For extracurricular activities, I participated a few times in the international festival at the school, where, along with some others, we represented our countries by singing, dancing, and making presentations. I soon became a leader in the Voronezh chapter of the Association of Scholarship Students in Russia and was occupied with helping organize events to make the students feel at home in a foreign land.
“You are HSE worthy”
Years went by quickly—different teachers, different subjects, summertime, and spring again. But one I will never forget because it is instrumental to where I am today was a course we had in our final year. My teacher, Чигарев Геннадий, never ceased to mention the Higher School of Economics. Anytime a student answered a difficult question in his class, he would say you are HSE worthy. That piqued my interest. I knew about LSE; it was my dream school. But what about HSE made my highly respected teacher, who later became my supervisor for my thesis, speak so highly of the school?
I did my research, and I understood why he held the school in such high esteem. There was no question that I would apply to the faculty of economic sciences. They had a partnership with LSE!
"God indeed answers prayers!"
All I knew about the school was through the website. It was user-friendly, and I found every critical piece of information there on the site. With little or no assistance, I began my application process.
The application process was seamless, but having perfectionist tendencies and wanting so badly to get into HSE with a full scholarship because I could not afford the bill, so I took my time to perfect my application. Sadly, when I finished taking my time and having a good score on my portfolio, there was no more room for a full scholarship. They told me this during the interview, and I had to either take this step of faith or back down and watch my dream pass.
I took the step of faith while seeking other means to make up for the partial fee I had to pay, which was still an enormous amount of money. Then came Open Doors.
Open Doors is a Russian Scholarship Project to give students from all over the world the opportunity to enroll in a master's program in Russia. First, I had to submit my certificates for the portfolio competition, and then I had to write exams. I was elated to find out that I was one of the prize winners for the year 2022. "God indeed answers prayers!" I cried in excitement.
"HSE is the place where dreams come true"
Studying Strategic Corporate Finance as a full-scholarship student is a blessing but not without issues. My main problem was transitioning again from learning in Russian to English. It seemed like two different worlds of learning processes, but that was an easy hurdle to pass because English is my first language.
The course itself was challenging. There was a whole lot to cover, so many assignments to catch up on, and I did not have much help because I did not know anyone who had gone through the course.
It was also a little strenuous adapting to the size of Moscow; everywhere seemed to be no less than an hour away from every other place. I am grateful my hostel is only forty minutes away.
These hurdles were menial compared with the benefits of studying the course.
My teachers teach with expertise, willing to pour their knowledge into us. During the office hours, teachers are available for questions one might not understand in class. The school also assists students through peer tutors, who could help students navigate the courses to some extent. The reputation of the school is also a huge benefit. HSE is keen on furnishing us with not only schoolwork but also webinars and activities to make student life richer and fuller.
Lastly, I have had the opportunity to study with my Nigerian classmates. Although they tease me by saying I am a foreigner, it has been a great pleasure creating synergy with them and having the opportunity to experience a tiny bit of what studying in Nigeria is like.
I have to bring my story to a close here. But before I go, I must tell you one more thing. HSE is the place where dreams come true.