"To become a part of the Eternal City for a while is the best gift that the year 2022 has given me." Olesya Ivanova tell us about how she managed to spend six months in Rome, travelling and getting to know foreign students from all over the world, as soon as she decided to apply for a mobility programme.
Olesya Ivanova, student of the master's programme "Marketing: Digital Technologies and Marketing Communications" of the HSE Graduate School of Business, visited one of the best Italian universities LUISS Business School in Rome. As part of the individual educational plan, Olesya took the Executive Marketing programme, which is more often taken as a part of an MBA. Read in the review about how she managed to cope with bureaucratic tasks in a difficult 2022, what gave her training at the University of "the Eternal City" and how the student was convinced of the quality of her studies at the HSE Graduate School of Business.
When I applied for the international mobility programme at the end of February 2022, I thought it was senseless. But, as my experience has shown, never say never. The year 2022 was certainly not an easy one for exchange programs with Russian universities, but I had an unforgettable international exchange experience. I spent a whole semester in Rome, studying at one of te best Italian universities — LUISS Business School.
Application for the programme
I wanted to take part in the exchange programme even before I started my undergraduate studies, but for some reason I kept putting it off and never dared to apply. But in the middle of my first year of Master's programme I realised that this might be my last chance to study in another country. So I started collecting documents.
I took all the information during my preparation from the International Office's website. The section «How to Become a Participant» has such detailed instructions that I almost did not have to look for information about the selection. I carefully read the step-by-step guidelines, chose three universities, gathered the necessary documents and applied. Along with the application package I also applied for a scholarship. It does not seem to be mentioned anywhere, but at the time of application you can indicate if you qualify for a scholarship and attach evidence of your special achievements (grounds for financial aid).
Confirmation and invitation
On April 4 I received an email confirming my application to study at the university which I had indicated as my first priority — LUISS Business School. The Business School is located in Rome, my favourite city, which I had been to several times as a traveller before the mobility programme. To be honest, largely because of the location, this university was my first priority. I knew nothing about LUISS when I applied, but it turned out to be one of the most prestigious educational institutions in Rome and Italy in general.
I confirmed my intention to take part in the exchange programme, after which I received a welcome letter from the host university informing me about the selection process for the study programmes. There was only one programme that suited me (Executive Marketing) which best matched my second year Master's programme at HSE GSB. I applied for this programme and waited for the results of the selection process. I received the Acceptance letter from the university straight away, so the only question was which programme I would be allocated to.
When I received confirmation that I had been accepted to the Executive Marketing programme, I set about preparing my study plan, which proved to be the most difficult stage for me. My master's programme at GSB is so intense that I simply could not replace it completely with the host university's courses. I took some subjects by correspondence in agreement with the academic supervisor, while others were replaced with online courses from educational platforms. The final version of the individual study plan was only finalised in mid-September, so I advise starting well in advance.
Visa and tax number
The process of getting a student visa was pretty much the same as for the tourist visa, the only difference was the amount of documents required — for the student (national visa category D) you need more. A full list of documents can be found on the website of the Italian visa application centre. In case of any questions you can contact the staff by phone. A very important point: when obtaining a visa it is necessary to immediately request a tax number (like the Russian TIN, in Italy it is called codice fiscale ). Most likely without this number you won't even be able to buy a SIM-card, so it's really important. Although I was not sure if I would ever be granted a visa (I applied in July 2022, a time when many embassies stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens), I got it in less than a week.
Apart from coordinating and signing the Individual Learning Plan in the HSE GSB, I had to do practically the same thing in LUISS: prepare and sign a Learning Agreement with all the disciplines I had chosen and the number of credits they weighed. Then I went through the procedure of registering my account on the internal platform luiss.learn (a system similar to our LMS), got a mailbox and verified my account using a special facial recognition application (this was quite difficult, as the application is only available for download for European accounts). But in the end I got through all the procedures, also with the help of the host university's staff.
Study and student life
I flew to Rome a week before my course started — my first course started on October, 7th. Since my programme was not quite standard (Executive Marketing is a programme for practitioners, it is most often taken as part of the MBA), there were no welcoming events for me. From the first day of the course I worked it all out on my own, with the help of the programme manager and my classmates, whom I got to know. The classes were held on Fridays and Saturdays, but ran all day for 6-8 hours. In my group almost all the students were Italians, foreigners joined for 1-2 courses, and not for the whole semester, as I was. The disciplines themselves went on for no more than two weeks — we studied in pairs and then handed in final group projects as exams. Sometimes we were given exam tasks at home because they were too long. There were no oral exams or tests; basically, all training is built on projects and collaborative assignments. All the lecturers at the business school are practitioners in their subject area, including employees of international companies. On the whole, I would say that studying in Italy is more relaxed than in Russia. Nevertheless, many of the classes gave me a cool international multifaceted experience, which was very valuable for my personal and career development. I would like to highlight that each discipline was 100% practice-oriented —- any knowledge gained was immediately applied to a real case.
Impressions of the mobility
I spent almost six months in my favorite city, travelled to Paris and Berlin, and studied with students from Italy, Germany, Croatia, Peru, and other countries. Also during my studies I started to learn Italian and I am still learning it. It was extremely interesting to study traditions, meet new people and get an education in Italy. I want to say that this trip both gave me the opportunity to study in another country and also strengthened my confidence that my master's program at the HSE Graduate School of Business is one of the strongest in its field. And spending the winter in sunny Rome and being a part of the Eternal City for a while is the best gift I could get in 2022. It was an unforgettable experience, for which I am very grateful to the HSE GSB.