NSU Foreign Students Discuss Classes, Exams and Educational Systems

New Year's holidays are traditionally a difficult time for students. After all, course quizzes are over, and ahead – final exams and preparing for those takes time. In response to those who believe that studying is a continuous series of obstacles, NSU students from different parts of the world talk about how to overcome the fear of exams, how to pass the semester «perfectly» and why studying at a university is not the most difficult thing.


Akim Gereiro, Portugal, Economics Department

Before I entered NSU, I studied at the Graduate School of France, and then at the University of Virginia.

Two of my favorite lectures at NSU turned out to be the most difficult. They were courses in mathematics where it is necessary to solve problems with many unknowns.

I have a very simple method to prepare for exams which I am happy to share with students. I turn off my phone, put it away somewhere in the closet. Then, I develop a strict schedule with specific deadlines (very often this also is a difficult task and takes half a day). Of course, in this schedule I allow myself breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as time to watch an amusing series so I can relax and catch my breath a little. And I certainly allow myself time for a walk in Akademgorodok to breathe the fresh, snowy air.

The French educational system, which I studied starting in the 6th grade, has a special structure. We begin the first year of school after kindergarten (as in most countries), and we finish primary school at the end of the 5th grade. Then we go to high school. An interesting feature of the French system is that after the 6th grade there is no 7th grade, we begin the countdown to graduation in the 5th grade again so it turns out we finish school in the 1st grade. People are usually surprised when they find out that a year before the university I was actually a first-grader, although I was 18 years old, like all graduates.

In general, I do not have any superstitions about exams, but I always carry talismans with me "for luck". For many years the talisman was two small dinosaurs and now it is a bandage on my arm. I believe that it is very important to take a "happy thing" with you to an exam because a sincere belief in its magical power, makes us stronger.


Manasses Shola, Nigeria, Institute of Medicine and Psychology

My name is Manasseh Shola Emmanuel, but my name is usually shortened to EmJay. Overall, I did not have a subject that was really difficult. It was just stress and the large number of things that had to be done that created the illusion of a «difficult discipline».

The Nigerian educational system is similar to the British even though my country has gained its independence. Most of us graduate from a Tertiary institution- a university in the classical sense. Graduates are usually young people aged 21-26 years, depending on the course they choose. The only thing I know about exams is that those who are smart, even without preparation, can pass any exam. When I am studying, I always find time to do what I enjoy: singing, playing football, meeting new people. My favorite proverb is «The unexplored life is not worth living».


Razhnish Singh, India, Physics Department

Before coming to Russia, I thought it would be very difficult to adjust to the local education system but I was pleasantly surprised.

My favorite lectures here are the physics of elementary particles and cosmology because the Professors explained complex things in great detail. I usually asked a lot of questions and they always answered and helped me understand the topic.

In my country, parents usually send their children to school at the age of 3 and private schools are preferred over state schools. At 15, children finish school and can choose a state or national university on the basis of their grades. At the same time, they also take entrance exams.

The format for exams in India are that you have three hours to answer 20-25 questions that can be from any chapter of the textbook. So, before the exam you basically need to learn heart almost the whole book by heart. If you missed a few chapters, you can only turn to God for hope.


Bao Wong, Vietnam, Mathematics and Mechanics Department, graduate student

- At NSU students have access to almost any type of information if you have a desire to look for it. I think studying is hard for those who do not want to deal with challenges and obstacles. At first, it was very difficult for me because I didn’t know anything, I was a new student. Now I'm used to it. The most difficult thing is to discipline yourself.

Among the subjects, I like algebra, functional analysis, geometry, I generally like everything, but I am not able to study everything. My favorite subject, probably, is Maria Alexandrovna's cultural history, she is an amazing teacher.

I do not have any secrets for preparing for exams. I'm an ordinary student and just doggedly prepare for everything.

I think everyone has their own comfortable way to study and get rid of fear before an exam. Although, probably, until exams end no one is totally able to get rid of fear. The educational system in Vietnam was influenced by two countries. The first is France because Vietnam was a colony of France for about 150 years, from the beginning of the XIX century to the middle of XXth. The modern education system in Vietnam was created during the French colonization period. The second influence is Russia. After the war, Vietnam was included in the group of socialist republics so all governing mechanisms were built on Soviet principles. We still have pioneers who sing the anthem under the flag on Mondays! It is very funny. There are 12 grades at school and children begin to study when they are 6 years old. Compared to Russia, Vietnam is stricter and less flexible. In this way education is probably closer to French than Russian. Higher education in Vietnam is almost identical to Russia because the scientific school in Vietnam was established with support from the USSR.


Zhanat Erkinbekova, Kyrgyzstan, Economics Department, graduate student

My name is Zhanat, but I'm already used to being called Jeanne, Jeannette. I am a representative of Kyrgyzstan (this is not Kazakhstan or Kurdistan). Kyrgyzstan is a small Switzerland, because we have so many mountains. I am a first year graduate student in the Economics Department majoring in the economics of natural resources management. Previously, I was in the NSU Economics Department Master’s Program focusing on international projects management.

Studying at NSU is not as difficult as I was told. Maybe because I'm used to studying? I do not know. For me, the most difficult subject is and remains the philosophy. My mother thinks this is the easiest and most interesting subject. It is hard now to choose from among my favorite subjects because you can only study three. When I was getting my MA, if you asked what my favorite subjects were, I would answer that there are a lot of them, but most of all I like comparative and international management. I like to observe and study the behavior of people from different countries. For me, the most nerve-wracking moments are tests and exams. Before finals I stock up on different delicious snacks and coffee. They say that before exams you should not wash your hair - I wash my hair and then sit down with my textbooks. I also do not wear new clothes to an exam, I have special exam clothes that I believe bring me luck. Like all students, I write cheat sheets but I don’t know why because I do not use them. I do not know how to use them, but I have the feeling that just above my head there is a siren that starts to flash and shout «danger, danger». I think that by writing it down, it all stays in my head. These are the secrets.

The educational system in our country is similar to the one in Russia. School usually ends when you are 18, if there is no extra education. Everything depends on the university you choose and the level of corruption at the university. I graduated after 9th grade and went to the Bishkek financial and economic technical school. At that time its graduates were in demand among employers. It was 3 of the most difficult years of education in my life. And, of course, they had strict rules: the doors closed at 8 am, you were required to dress professionally, if you had three failing grades you were kicked out, medical excuses had to come from the student clinic and had to be verified. After graduation, when I entered the university things were not as strict. When I entered NSU, I was surprised by the number of different activities and the quality of the classes.