The inter-university student conference “Russia through the Eyes of Foreigners” brought together representatives of six Novosibirsk higher educational institutions: NSU, Novosibirsk State Technical University, Novosibirsk State Architectural and Building University, Siberian State University of Communications, Novosibirsk State University of Economics and Management, and Siberian Institute of Management - a branch of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. 22 foreign students and other guests including Zhargal Danzanov, the organizer of the multilingual “blabla” meetup in Novosibirsk, made presentations at the Conference. Foreign speakers who are studying in Novosibirsk came fr om China, Korea, Mongolia, India, Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire, Italy, France, Great Britain, Switzerland, and Pakistan.
The Conference program consisted of four sections devoted to “Problems Adapting to Life in Russia”, “Problems Teaching Foreign Students in Russian Universities”, “Russian Impressions of My Country”, and “Russia’s Image Abroad”.
The first day of the Conference began with an intellectual quiz “Getting to Know Russian Culture”, wh ere participants could not only demonstrate, but increase their knowledge of Russia's rich culture. The first day of the Conference ended with an open discussion “Foreigners Through the Eyes of Russians” and a tour of the University conducted by the staff of the NSU Museum of History. After the presentations on the second day, there was a walking tour of Akademgorodok before Conference participants joined the Interweek Ethno-Party event and the weekly blabla meetup at the Co.mein café.
At the end of the Conference, awards were announced for the speakers. The criteria used by the jury included the logic of the presentation, it’s content and relevance, speech preparation and development, number of grammatical, phonetic, and intonational errors and omissions, and artistry. A foreign expert evaluated the clarity and overall idea of each presentation.
Among the winners were three NSU students. First place was shared by Emilia Wood, Great Britain, with her report “Russian Perceptions of My Country”, and Chinese student Chen Yuxi with the presentation “My Life Experience in Russia: A Summary”. Second place went to representative of Switzerland Fabian Helmrich, who spoke about studying in Russia and England. In Third place was Hou Qian from China with the report “The Image of Russia Abroad”. In addition, many participants were awarded diplomas in various categories, such as artistry, scientific approach, etc., and online voting by participants identified the most memorable presentations with Pak Nayun (Korea, Novosibirsk State Technical University) and Zhang Jonan (China, NSU) winning the spectators awards.
Emilia Wood, a third-year undergraduate student from the University of Cambridge shared her impressions,
I thought it would be useful to participate in the Conference, since they do not conduct these types of events for undergraduate students at British universities; they are only for graduate students. So, it was a great opportunity to get experience. I prepared a lot for the presentation because my research required conducting a survey of students from three countries. Still, I managed to write everything, send questionnaires to respondents, and analyze the results and, to be honest, it wasn’t boring. I really liked the freedom and the opportunity to do work that was not based on a textbook, and the topic of my research was interesting to me. The atmosphere at the conference was very friendly, it was possible to speak without fear of making mistakes because everyone supported each other. I am leaving Novosibirsk soon but I know that I will not forget this conference!
The conference was organized by the Center for International Study Programs at the Humanitarian Institute of the NSU.