Samuel - Lomonosov Moscow State University

B Arts
The student exchange programme to MSU was an academically rewarding experience that gave me the chance to spend time in a fascinating country.

Academic experience

All the courses I took at Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) were directed at students studying Russian as a foreign language, and each course focussed on a different topic. Courses included standard topics in language learning, such as grammar, and more specific topics, such as business communication.
The courses each student took were determined by the group in which they were placed for the semester. Grouping was based on the results of a short placement test to assess reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. This placement test and the subsequent grouping essentially constituted the enrolment process at MSU.
The aspect I enjoyed most about the academic experience at MSU was the fact that Russian was the medium of instruction for all courses. The benefit of having all course content communicated in Russian meant that using the language became more instinctive over the course of the semester.
One challenge I encountered during the academic experience was that almost all course information was only provided verbally. Therefore, it was necessary to seek written clarifications of course details, such as assessment requirements. Despite this, having course information provided verbally was helpful for improving listening comprehension skills in Russian.

Personal experience

The most significant gains from my student exchange programme to MSU came from being in an environment where I was able to constantly improve my knowledge of Russian, meet a range of different people and visit unique places with their own fascinating histories and cultures. Living in Russia allowed me to deepen my understanding of the Russian language and learn about the different ways of life of people there. I also visited other places in Russia, with each place providing different representations of the country in their distinctive histories, cultures and languages.

Accommodation

For my student exchange programme, I stayed in dormitory-style accommodation in the main building at MSU.
The aspect I liked most about this type of accommodation was its location. Being on campus, classes were just a short walk away from the main building, and the campus was also not far from public transport services, shops and places to dine at.
While future exchange students planning to stay in this type of accommodation should be prepared for modest living conditions, the convenience and low cost of living in this type of accommodation ultimately offset any associated drawbacks.
Furthermore, MSU assisted with accommodation through organising the room and helping during the administrative procedures associated with securing the room for the duration of the student exchange programme semester.

Costs

In general, the cost of living in Moscow was lower than that of in Brisbane. Generous student discounts on admission to numerous places of interest both in Moscow and across Russia were accessible with the MSU student card. Many admissions with this card cost just a few dollars, and a few were free. The cost of living in the main building for the semester was a small fraction of what comparable accommodation would cost in Brisbane, and a day’s worth of meals in the main building’s cafeterias would cost under $15.
Of course, how much money to budget for the student exchange programme to MSU will depend on individual spending habits. However, I feel that the estimates provided on the UQ student exchange programme website ($12,000-$15,000) would be more than sufficient for anyone planning to participate in this programme. In addition, external funding was available exclusively for this student exchange programme in the form of the UQ-Prokhorov Scholarship.

Challenge

The biggest challenge during my student exchange programme to MSU was adjusting to the academic system there, namely the verbal communication of course information. As mentioned above, this meant it was necessary to seek written clarifications to confirm course details, such as assessment requirements.

Professional Development

The most evident professional development I experienced during my student exchange programme to MSU was a noticeable improvement in my Russian language abilities. This skill was developed in conjunction with others, such as cultural awareness and understanding, problem solving and adaptability. All these skills were developed through everyday situations associated with living in a foreign country.

Highlight

The highlight of my student exchange programme experience was having the opportunity to reside in Russia for a sustained time. Being in Russia allowed me to constantly use Russian and refine my knowledge of the language in academic and recreational contexts. My time in the country was further enriched through visits to various places both inside and outside of Moscow.

Top tips

I would advise those considering a student exchange programme to MSU to understand that course assessment requirements can be subject to change. Future exchange students to MSU should also be aware of all travel requirements and take the initiative to seek information that has not necessarily been made available, including information about the visa extension process organised by MSU.