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We do believe that cutting-edge understanding of our country’s and the world’s future should and can be seen through public policy perspective, the policy of dialogue between different social and political groups, the policy that encourages the states' and public leaders’ accountability, open to expressed views of the public, analytical community, intellectuals and global citizens.
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Silvia Can you please tell me about yourself? Your background and major.
InnaMy name is Inna Bondarenko, I'm 23 years old. Originally, I am from a small city of Kursk in Russia. I studied in an ordinary school and could never imagine that one day I would go to HSE University or any other university. For my bachelor’s, I went to MGIMO University, which is Moscow State Institute of International Relations, where I studied international relations with a focus on Middle East and where I learned the Arabic language.
During my bachelor studies, I did a couple of internships. I did an internship in the Arab League, then I went on an exchange to Jordan for two months and studied Arabic and later to Naples for half a year where I did my Erasmus. After graduation, I decided to enter HSE University and to do that I took part in the Olympiad for students and graduates "Vyshaya Liga" to join Public Policy and Political Analysis program and I somehow managed to win.
Therefore, without any exams or interviews I managed to enter HSE university to study public policy and political analysis with concentration in human rights and democratic governance. So yes, now I am writing my thesis on how migrants are portrayed by Russian media, especially those from central Asia.
Silvia OK, that is a very nice story, very inspiring. My next question will be, well, you got admitted to the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, right? How does that feel?
Inna Actually, I would say that I have an imposter syndrome. It is you know, like when you do not appreciate your skills and what you have. And I was like, oh, I can't believe it. I cannot believe it. I do not know what the word is. It is too much for me I do not deserve it, yeah, but now I am somewhat OK with that. Now I am quite chilled with that wondering if it is still Oxford. Inna Bondarenko from Kursk City, is that even well-matched? Yeah, but I am very excited and I am looking forward to having the nicest experience.
Silvia I am very happy for you by the way.
Inna Thank you.
Silvia What program would you be studying in Oxford?
Inna Yeah, this is Master of Science in migration studies.
SilviaSo it is related to your master’s thesis here?
Inna Yeah, yeah.
Silvia OK, that is great. I would have asked what your reason was but of course, you just want something that is related to your thesis. Do you think your education and experience in HSE, specifically at this program was helpful in this application process?
Inna Yes, it was really helpful. It was even more helpful than MGIMO to be honest, because at HSE, professors taught us how to write in academic English and it really helped me because when you apply to Oxford, you need to submit certain papers where I submitted papers written for Professor Schlaufer and for professor Uldanov. In one of the papers, I used the punctuation equilibrium theory, which was one of the numerous theories taught in class.
Silvia Can you tell me a little bit about the application process?
Inna I started my application process long ago; I think in August 2021. And yes, I needed to submit 2 academic works, one motivation letter, my resume, and three recommendation letters. So, I asked professor Uldanov and two professors from my bachelor studies. So yes, and when you apply actually you pay a lot. I think it was about £90.00, which is really a lot for me.
Also fill in the questionnaire and there are lot of questions about your background. I also had to write that I am from a poor background that I am coming from a small town and that it is important to have this diversity.
Silvia OK, so what were the requirements for that program? Did they require that you have let us say background in a specific program before you can apply?
Inna Yes, they needed two years of experience including volunteer experiences and bachelor’s degree. So, I had both. Yeah, that is all.
Silvia So generally do you think that the application process was stressful? Was it easy or what would you say it was like?
Inna It was very stressful because I am shy to ask people to write references for me. Yeah and when I asked my bachelor professors, I was afraid that they would not remember me. Nevertheless, they did. They remembered me, so it was quite nice, and I think it was the most stressful part. Other parts were quite okay. I mean I had the papers I wrote before and of course, motivation letter in which you had to put some specific things for them to consider, you know. And I think that I made a mistake because I put too much of my background information and I put little of motivating things. However, it was okay for them.
Silvia Yeah, so did you have to submit any examination scores like that of GRE or IELTS?
Inna Yes, I submitted my IELTS results.
Silvia Lastly, what advice would you give the HSE community, specifically the students from our program?
Inna Well, listen to the professors. Even when you think that they are not right, they are right. Do not be afraid to speak and to present your thoughts because it is very useful. It is very handy. It is very important to elaborate your thoughts when you speak because you will need it in your future life, especially if you want to be a high official or a public relations person, so you need to speak, speak, speak, speak, speak and write. Right as our professors ask us to.
Silvia One more thing. Did you have to do an interview?
Silvia Ok, Inna. I think this is it for now. Thank you very much.
Inna Yeah, thank you.