Psychological tips for international student

1. Language and communication in university.

2. Few words about Russian character and how to deal with it.

3. Exams nerves.

Language and communication in university

Most of the programs at Russian universities are taught in Russian language. At the same time, some short-term and full-term programs in foreign languages (English, French) have been developed recently. That preferably concerns various programs in the field of medicine. No, but in this case it is necessary to take preliminary training on preparatory courses (Foundation). The courses are offered by reputable Russian universities. As a rule, the program includes studying of Russian language and 2-3 profile (core) subjects. Some universities offer graduate/postgraduate programs with lectures and seminars conducted in English language. Despite it, these programs include the study of Russian language too, knowledge of which is essential for everyday life and some educational reasons (in case of medical studies - to communicate with patients) etc.

Bear in mind that it is difficult to find middle aged English speaking people. Even in the café or club the conversation and understanding might be an obstacle. If you need to ask something in English try to find young person. Unfortunately it concerned the studying process too. Most of the programs at Russian universities are taught in Russian language. At the same time, some short-term and full-term programs in foreign languages (English, French) have been developed recently. That preferably concerns various. There is less than half percent of teachers would understand you in case of using English. And tiny minority would ignore
your English to create the situation where you can better understand and learn Russian. Clearly, the solution of communication problem is in your hand – in starting to use Russian language.

Peculiarity university communication

University community has already accustomed to international students. We have no “wow” reactions when we see an Indian, African or Thai student nowadays. Our relationship and communication is really ordinary. You have to bear in mind only few things:

With rector and administration:

· Do not be afraid if you receive an invitation fr om rector or vise rector. It may be a very positive cause.

· Visiting rector requires business dress code.

· Take something to note for yourself.

· If you ask something, try to speak briefly and clearly.

With teachers:

· Do not miss your classes. Your teacher will tolerate it only if you are brilliant at the subject. Are you?

· Do not afraid to ask teacher, if the theme it is not really clear.

· The elder your teacher the more patient you should be. There is a lot of reasons: your Russian, our English language, the less of time etc.

· Try to be interested in subject and to prepare for each class. University Teachers are funs of their subject and always see a disinterested student.

Few words about Russian character and how to deal with it.

There are a lot of myths and facts has been written about a mysterious Russian Soul. If you want to compose your own opinion about it you should acquaint with Russian fairy tales and proverbs. And you knew that Russian says: "All that is done is done for the better", "Hope for the better and be ready for the worst" "A lean compromise is better than a fat lawsuit”, "Better have a hundred friends than a hundred rubles".

So we want to direct your attention on the nature of the north people.


You know we have a lot of differences in temper in comparison with southern people. In a large majority you will see a rather “cold” people with pretty distance and rare smile at first sight. The personal space here is 'medium', that is smaller than among the English-speaking people and much bigger than that in South America. Actually we did not use a kisses, touching and private distance when we meet someone as it used to be on south. But in the process of meeting and when we know each other better we became more contact. In the north we have to take time to get used and know each other better. This trend concerned to elder people and in the less part to students. In case if you need to get throw the crowdy place you’d better not use your hands - it is customary here to force through with one's body than with the hands.

It is not useful to take a long intrusive look in to the eyes. And in the same time it is ok in Russia to eye openly another person's belongings. It is work in case of first meeting and it would be more understandable in following collaborate. In fact it is a token of respect and certain distance implying one's modesty.

Russians can hardly adopt formal smiling at official receptions and similar occasions. If you want to see a smile, just try to be sincerely and friendly. The American manner “keep smiling” is not evidence here. The affected demonstration of happiness might be perceived as a sign of one's unnaturalness. So, if you want to receive a smile prepare to give it by yourself openly and sincerely.

Russians like to dress up, particularly girls. Even if they are just in university or in school.
The European “to dress just for to cover the body” did not survive here. We (girls) used to be on make up and high-heel shoes even if it is morning or it is slippery outside. And to do this every morning really takes time and power. So if you want to put the right contact use the compliments applying to accessories or the whole look. Your partner always estimates it. Bear it in mind if you want to produce a perfect impression.


As a way of communication, we like to speak about personal affaires, professional interests and hobbies, talents and achievements of children, health, and any personal or financial problems, novelties of cultural and literary life. Of special interest are themes of philosophy and politics.

Concrete discussion of money matters, manifest demonstration of one's financial and career success and self-advertising are not acceptable. It is considered tactless to ask about a person's age, or in any way touch upon this theme, especially if it might turn a sore subject. The Russians still feel uneasy about speaking openly of sex, though mass media here do their best to change the matter. In spite that the Russian foul language is known the world over, it will be frowned at in an educated society. It still retains its extremely negative connotation, so be careful when displaying your probable mastery of the language. Obscene and rude jokes are not welcomed either, though it depends on the company you are in. The Russians are patriots. It would be a great mistake of yours to join in the criticism. Especially painful are the issues of the Second World War and the war in Chechnya.

It is better to find out a facts that are really interested you about our culture and history and to show respect of it. Traditionally we take pride in art and literature, figure skating and other sports, economic development.

The Russians can hardly adopt formal smiling at official receptions and similar occasions. If you want to see a smile, just try to be sincere and friendly. The American manner “keep smiling” is not evidence here. The affected demonstration of happiness might be perceived as a sign of one's unnaturalness.

Being a guest

When visiting a household do not forget to bring small presents or something "for tea”- a cake or sweets. Any way we have no tradition to “bring a plate” happily. Prepare to put off your shoes at the entryway and put on the slippers called 'tapochki'. There is no tradition to be barefooted being a guest.

There is useful to prepare for the rich food and drinks (it may differ in students community). Do not even try to balk it - your hosts will be truly upset. Yet, be careful when it comes to drinking: your drinking background may be far behind the experience of your Russian friends. Your glass will be repeatedly filled to the brim, but you are not obliged to drink it all to the bottom, unless specified. Drinking is a particular theme for Russian, and it is often becomes the easiest way to find a common language - that's most true in Russia. So, if your health allows, do not refuse to whip up, yet be careful. Do not forget to take a snack and avoid mixing drinks.

Exams nerves

You know, Russian students say that there is two terrible periods in year – periods of session. Between them life is splendid!

How to prepare the best way

Each term in university is ending by tests and exams. We have not more than five exams traditionally. You always find what specifically exams do you have in the term in your timetable. So, you may start to prepare for this in advance. First of all mind the simply rule it is better to pass exam when you understand the subject or even thought you learned it. There in non-traditional (but not easiest) ways to pass exams prescheduled:

- You may have to pass it automatically. It happens when you show an extraordinary activity and knowledge on each study.

- You may carry out a scientific work on theme of your educational cycle. And the positive conclusion of the work influenced on your positive examination mark.

There is practice of prescheduled delivering in this case you have to ask the literal permission of dean.

In case of traditional procedure of exam you have to prepare all volume of requirement knowledge. And it’s a problem some times. You know, that studying medical subjects it is harder than anything. Not without reason only to study medicine takes up to six years. Our own experience says that it is impossible to put all anatomy courses in the head at one night. So try to leave tree – five days for working, using lectures, recommended and extra books, and your personal notes.

Some psychological rules of studying:

- Organize your studying due to exact plan, because if you starting up from nowhere you will go to nowhere and without feeling done the deal. Take a question list, obligatory and addition books.

- Use not only reading but creating schemes, tables, drawings and notes. If the theme is complicated in particular try to explain it for the virtual partner aloud.

- Remember about your personal memory type (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) and use it when you learn something.

- Find out your personal working ours and use it. In case of having night working ours it is better to notify in advance your flat mate.

- It is useful to start from the most interesting or clear part of the material or theme and to follow the direction of complication.

- Always take a rest between studying, approximately 10 minutes in an hour. You have to give a rest to your eyes, and your head before they give up reading and learning something.

- Try to avoid a lot of coffee of strong tea, because your nervous system is already stressed in period of exams.

- The food have to be rich in calories and heal giving in this period. Try to notice and prevent a very frequent using for food sweets, chocolate another “bad” products it is may be a signal of anxiety.

- It would be better to go in for sport (swimming, jogging) or just walking in the evening right before exam. In this way you allow your memory to have a rest to collect your's thoughts.

- Try to sleep in the night before exam. There is one exception from this rule if you have the night working hours and it was helpful.

How to do your best on the verbal exam

Take a light and energetic breakfast. Always remember the full name of teacher and his position (scientific degree).

In the class you will choose a question card and took a seat for preparing. Read attentively the question and first of all write every thing that you remember relative to question. Then try to remember details: names, persons, dates.

The best specialist in exam procedure says that cribs are useful. But it is so only in two cases:

· If you made it personally

· If you do know extremely nothing, and a choice is between “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory”

Some of the teachers are the uncompromising fighter with cribs. If they detect it you have to quit the exam and start to prepare from the beginning.

Be truly interested in subject you study.


· Do not afraid the teacher, remember that examination it is just conversation between people wh ere one man (teacher) just want to give an authentic view of knowledge of another man (student),

· When you go to the interview try to speak naturally and confidently even you do not know a lot,

· Give a gently smile and look directly at person you speaking to,

· If you notice you have made a mistake, correct yourself,

Answer the questions

· If you do not understand the question, ask your interviewer to repeat it,

· Do not answer the question with two words. Answer with two or three sentences,

· Never say: “I don’t know” Say: “I have to take time to recollect it”. And take a minute to remember,

· When your answer the question give a reason for your answer or an example.

Russian North is remarkable for its majestic scenery and unique architecture and Northern people are very faithful, deep and overt. Get acquainted with Russian customs, traditions, watch for everyday life - your life here will be much easier. We hope you will enjoy your period of studying.

Tatyana Nizovtseva,

Psychologist of psychological service NSMU