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Participating in exchange during the pandemic

A 3rd year student of Public Administration program Nina Kozlova shares her experience

Participating in exchange during the pandemic

I arrived in Edinburgh on January 7th, checked in the dorm... and stayed in it for 10 days in quarantine.

This trip began in an unusual way. All foreign students had to be in self-isolation for 10 days, food was brought to their place of residence, so it was not possible to see even the store located on the first floor of the dormitory. It could seem that you would go crazy being locked in your room with strangers and constantly speaking a foreign language. However, I had wonderful neighbors from the Czech Republic, France, Hungary and the United States of America.

When the study began, I really expected that after the quarantine it would be conducted in an offline format, but all classes were online only. I studied Global Security, Understanding and Delivery of Government Services, and Introduction to Political Data Analysis. Despite the fact that the online learning platforms of HSE and the University of Edinburgh are very similar, at first it was difficult for me to get used to it. However, thanks to the skills acquired during my studies at the HSE, I quickly figured out and even received high marks for participating in the seminars.

I was very surprised by the grading system at the University of Edinburgh. Before writing an essay, teachers send examples of work with comments, but the grades for these works vary from 40 to 60 points. That is, getting a score of 80-90 is considered something unrealistic and rare. I am very glad that I managed to pass all the necessary work and successfully complete the selected courses. I was amazed at how the work is distributed at the University of Edinburgh: during a month you can only attend seminars, lectures and Q&A sessions, but then within one week you need to write 3 essays at the same time. And even if the student is responsible and punctual, it will not be possible to do it in advance - the materials of all weeks of study are required for writing! So, I gained the skill of writing over 10,000 words in one week!

For most of the time spent in Scotland, all shops, cafes, museums were closed, but this did not prevent you from enjoying the beauty of the local nature in your free time. I climbed Arthur’s Seat, walked in the local botanical garden and parks, admired the beautiful medieval architecture, especially Edinburgh Castle.

Communication with foreign students gave me the opportunity to practice not only English, but also Italian, get to know other cultures better, and celebrate many holidays that I had never even heard of before. Before the trip, I thought that the British discussion of the weather was just a joke; however, when I caught myself thinking that at an international dinner, students also discuss the weather, I realized that it was true! And, indeed, in the huge windows of the university library while writing an essay, you can see not only rain, hail and sun, but also a rainbow in one day! I will miss Edinburgh very much, the cry of seagulls in the morning and the trains, through the windows of which you can see sheep grazing in the fields.