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  1. Things to do in advance
  2. Visa
  3. Trip to Moscow
  4. Living in Moscow
  5. Classes
  6. Textbooks
  7. Cell phones
  8. Money matters
  9. Medical insurance
  10. Withdrawal from the program
  11. What to bring
  12. and what not to bring
1.Things to do in advance.

  • At your home university. Most schools have specific requirements students must fulfill before they study abroad. It is important that you check with your home school to make sure that you meet those requirements and you will receive MiM transfer credit and all possible financial aid.

    Most of the Study Abroad Departments ask their students about the state accreditation of Host Universities.

    Here are a scanned copy of the translation of the state accreditation certificate of the Higher School of Economics and a scanned copy of the translation of its state license.

    The Independent University of Moscow is a part of the non-profit educational institution “Moscow Center for Continuous Mathematical Education”, which has a Russian state license as an educational institution for further professional education in mathematics (scanned copies of the state license).

  • Medicines.

    Please keep in mind that some medicines prescribed in US are regarded as narcotics in Russia (for example, central nervous system stimulants of the phenethylamine class). This means, in particular, that their import to the territory of the Russian Federation, their possession, distribution, and use is forbidden by law and can lead to a heavy term of imprisonment. We advise you to consult us on the medicines you take. If you take any medicine not allowed in Russia, consult your doctor about its equivalent authorized in Russia. For any other medicine you plan to take with you, transport it in its original packaging and have the doctor’s prescription with you.

  • GRE. One can take the GRE in Moscow but we do recommend to register for it as early as possible. You should reserve your seat at . Our staff members will assist you in locating the exam institution in Moscow.

  • Graduate schools applications. It might be difficult to apply to graduate schools and for NSF graduate fellowships when you are away from your home university. Try to get it done early.

  • Putnam. It is not possible to take the Putnam exam in Moscow.


    In order to enter Russia, you must have a passport valid during a year and a half after the end of the semester and you should get a Russian visa. It is impossible to get a Russian visa without an official invitation from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. We will provide you with this invitation but this is a long bureaucratic process. Unfortunately it is impossible to apply for an invitation well in advance. The rules for getting an invitation are changing constantly and we will send you the more detailed information by email.

    The details of the process of getting the visa can be found on the Consulates websites: (Washington) (New York) (San Francisco) (Seattle) (Houston) (Ottawa) (Toronto) (Montreal)

    Please read these documents very carefully. Our invitation allows you to get the visa without any problems (and even by mail) if you precisely follow the instructions.

    An HIV test certificate is required for getting the visa. It should be sent to the Russian Consulate together with the other visa application documents.

    3. Trip to Moscow.
    The trip and the the first days might be hard

  • Tickets. The cost of a flight ticket to Moscow can vary by several hundred dollars from one travel agency to another. Shop around and try airfare search engines. An International Student Identification Card (ISIC) may help you to buy a cheaper plane ticket.

    After you buy your tickets, please inform us about your travel plans in details: the airline, the flight number(s), where and when you change planes (if it is not a direct flight), the arrival time and the airport in Moscow. Usually the date of the departure differs from the date of the arrival (due to the time difference). That information is essential for us to follow your flight online. If you are traveling by train, send us your train, your car and your seat numbers, where your train is coming from, the arrival time and the train station in Moscow.

  • Dates. Check the dates of arrivals and departures for the current academic year. Please do not try to enter Russia earlier. We are not sure that we will be able to arrange an invitation for a visa opening earlier. Even if your visa opens earlier, there will be nobody in Moscow who will be able to register you and your stay in Russia will be illegal.

  • What to keep in the carry-on luggage:
    1. your passport
    2. the plane tickets
    3. cash, the credit cards
    4. the medical insurance
    5. a week supply of all drugs that are necessary for you
    6. a card with the IUM contact phones and emails
    7. an instruction (written below) how to fill out a migration card.

  • Medicines. Your trip to Moscow will take a whole day or even more. Some people can't sleep well in a plane. So when you come to Moscow you might be very tired. And due to the considerable jet lag you may feel weak and drowsy for a couple of days. If there is some medicine that usually helps you in such instances please put it to the carry-on luggage.

  • Migration card. According to the rules you must fill out the migration card prior to the passport control (they are usually distributed in the plane). Please BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS DOCUMENT. It looks like a very small white scrap of paper. Nevertheless it is a very important document. Do not forget to fill it out and to check that it is stamped at the passport control.

    In the migration card one should indicate one’s name, date of birth, sex, citizenship, passport number, visa number, the name of the host person or the company (attn: on this line you should write “Higher School of Economics”) and the duration of stay (from: you indicate the date of your arrival; to: here you indicate the date of your visa expiration).

  • Luggage Although unlikely, it might happen that the checked luggage had been put on the wrong plane. So try to have everything important in your carry-on. It might be a good idea to put a visible sign distinguishing your luggage and to label your luggage inside and outside with your name and the final destination. Do not worry if your luggage is left behind. Your air company will deliver your luggage to you on the next day. To insure that you should fill out a special customs declaration before you leave the customs area. Otherwise instead of delivering your left-behind luggage to the dorm you might be asked to pick it up at the airport when it arrives.

  • Meeting at the airport. Our staff member will be waiting for you in the airport (in the train station if you come by train) holding a poster with your name. He/she will have your photo as well. If no one meets you when you come out of the customs area (the person may be late because of a heavy traffic), DO NOT TRY TO GET TO THE DORMITORY YOURSELF, please. Just find a quiet place nearby and wait for our employee. We will definitely pick you up. If you are going to take a cell phone with the SIM card that you expect to work in Moscow, please send us its number. The day before your departure to Russia we will email you the cell phone number of the helper scheduled to meet you. In case of any emergency (in particular, if you are late for a plane change) please call the Math in Moscow Director Professor Irina Paramonova or contact us some other way asap.

    When you arrive our staff member will bring you a cell phone with the SIM card that works in Moscow. The tariff plan offers comparatively inexpensive international calls. So you will be able to call your family and your friends almost immediately after your landing. The cell phone is provided free of charge from our program for the semester. It is an old style mobile phone that will do for calls and text messages.

    We will get you to the dormitory by taxi (also for free) and our employee will show you around and will assist you in making your stay comfortable.

    4. Living in Moscow.

    You will be living in a dormitory in central Moscow, about 3 miles from the Kremlin (the center point of the city). The dorm is in a very quiet affluent neighborhood, two minutes of walk from the metro station so getting around is very simple. You will be able to get to the IUM in less than 30 minutes. The MiM students will live together on the same floor of this dormitory so you will be around your peers all the time. Other residents are international students from other programs at HSE and Russian students.

    The dormitory has high speed internet outlets and we will provide you with internet cables. Also thanks to our previous semesters students there is a number of wi-fi routers.

    The first week in Moscow will be spent getting familiar with the city as well as getting around. Our staff will be helping you on almost a daily basis showing you how to use the metro, buses, etc. On the second weekend there is a bus tour around Moscow. This is a great site seeing trip with a tour guide but it is also helpful to get your bearings in the city.

    We are a small program so you will probably make friends very quickly with your peers as you will get to know them very well. And in the HSE dorm there will be plenty of other students you can meet. You are also welcome to attend any of the HSE clubs/programs etc.

    Many students are also interested in doing various things in Moscow. Our special staff members - "the helpers" will assist you in finding anything you want to do. Previously we have set up painting courses, chess classes with chess masters, ballet classes and more. Some students have gotten in contact with different groups on their own. Moscow has a large Expat community with 2.3 million Expats (foreigners living in Russia) in the city. So there are large groups and events happening for foreigners in Moscow.

    If you do want to get involved in different things or if you are feeling lonely, please let someone in our program know. The "Math in Moscow" program wants to make sure you enjoy your time in Moscow, academically and socially and we are here to help.

    5. Classes.

    Russian teaching tradition tries to develop active participation of students. And our classes are active dialogs between the students and the professor. The more active you will be, the more you will get. Questions are very welcomed if not required. Be ready that some problems may be very difficult.

    Every math class runs three hours once a week: an hour and a half of lectures and an hour and a half of exercises after a 15 minute break. It might be hard in the beginning. We hope you will enjoy the pleasure of the brainstorming and a deep interactive study.

    6. Textbooks.

    Most of our courses are original ones. During your study you will get handouts for courses you take. We have published lecture notes of the most popular courses and you can buy them in our bookstore. In our library you can find textbooks in English for several MiM courses, please check its online catalog. We advise you to take to the trip one or two of your favorite math books to be able to refresh what you need.

    Prerequisites. The prerequisites essential to almost all our courses are one semester of Advanced Calculus and Linear Algebra. We recommend you the following Linear Algebra and Basic Algebra textbooks: Axler, “Linear Algebra Done Right, Second Edition” and E.B.Vinberg, “A course in Algebra” (it is slightly advanced). Also it may be sensible to take with you any of your favorite textbooks on Analysis.

    The detailed information about recommended textbooks for all the courses given in your semester will be emailed you. Note that really works in Russia. It may take about 2-3 weeks for a delivery but it works.

    The main advice: if you are not sure that you will really take a course, do not buy the textbooks for it. You will be able to do that through Amazon in Moscow.

    7. Cell phones.

    When you arrive you will get a cell phone suitable for calls and text messages, a SIM card with 200 rubles in credit. This package is free for you (the phone and the SIM card are supposed to be returned back at the end of the semester). If you bring your own smartphone please make sure it is unlocked for international use. Cell phone use (except, probably, roaming and international calls) is pretty cheap in Russia. It is prepaid system where you put money on your SIM card and when you run out of money you put more on it (we will show you how to do this). With average use of calls, texts and data you can expect to spend $5-10 for a month. We will assist you in choosing the tariff plan that is optimal for you.

    8. Money Matters.

    There are ATMs throughout the city and very close to the dorm. So you will have an easy access to get money. We recommend to use ATMs inside bank offices. It is very important to notify your banks and credit cards companies that you will be in Russia, your cards will NOT work unless you let them know. At least they are very likely to stop working after the first use due to fraud prevention. Please ask your banks/credit companies about international rates. Most companies charge flat rate and percentage fees when using cards overseas. However, most companies have different options or cards that do not charge. So you may want to look into this to save a little money potentially. Usually ATMs in Russia do not charge their own fees.

    We recommend you to bring at least $500 in cash with you. If your cards don't work right away, get eaten by an ATM, lost, or in the worst case stolen, you can have some money while we can help you solve the problem. It will take time to mail a new card here so having a little money can be good just in case of a rainy day. Most bank accounts have daily limits on withdrawing at ATMs and you will need to make many payments in the first few days (rent, metro pass and excursions).

    We do not advise to bring Travelers Cheques. They are not accepted in any location as they are in North America. Only specific banks take them and sometimes it has been an issue in the past.

    Russia uses the ruble. The exchange rate is about 65 rubles for $1. US dollars are very easy to exchange but we don't recommend to do that in the airport. Canadian dollars are more difficult to exchange and the rates are far from optimal.

    9. Medical insurance.

    If you have any chronic disease we strongly advise you to have a good North American health insurance. In this case we ask you contact your company and to find out if your health insurance is valid in Russia and how it works there. Most often you have to pay first and the expenses will be reimbursed on your return home.

    Our program will pay for your basic medical insurance in Russia, even if you have an insurance in America. It is much easier to have Russian insurance as in the case you do need medical care it is extremely streamlined and quick without having to deal with international communications. If you get sick a doctor will actually come and visit you at the dormitory and if need be you will be transported to a hospital for further medical care. The medical plan will cover the usual cases and it does not cover treatments of chronic illnesses. In all medical situations we ask you to contact us first, we can assist you in your interactions with doctors. During the treatment that student is our top concern to ensure they are well and they are looked after very carefully.

    10. Withdrawal from the program.

    It may happen that by some force majeur circumstances you need to withdraw from the program after paying the tuition. If such a thing happens more than two weeks before the beginning of the semester, the program will reimburse your tuition entirely except for the money transfer fee; if it happens less than two weeks before the beginning of the semester, the program will reimburse you 90%. If you need to withdraw from the program within the first four weeks, the program reimburses a part of your tuition according to the following guidelines: less than 1 week, 50%, less than 2 weeks, 40%, less than 3 weeks, 30%, less than 4 weeks, 20%.

    11. What To Bring.
    Here is a compilation of advices by our alumni Erin Kiley and Austin Mack, and our thoughts on that matter:
    1. If you come for the spring semester it is absolutely necessary to bring with you a warm coat, warm boots, a warm hat, and gloves. A wool sweater, wool socks and a long underwear for cold nights will be helpful too. If you come for the fall semester you can buy warm clothes in Moscow. But the nights in September might be cold already (about 40ºF) with the central heating system turned off until the beginning of October.
    2. It is important that you bring an ample supply of any medicine you frequently use.
    3. Dorm footwear. While in the dorm you need to wear something on your feet at all time, so bring slippers or flip flops/shower shoes. They can be bought in Moscow though.
    4. If you are going to take some electronics, note that AC power voltage in Moscow is 220 volts and for a US plug one needs a power adapter.
    5. Your favorite math texts in English.
    6. Books and movies in English.
    7. A towel. The dorm does provide one, but it is small. Again it can be bought in Moscow.
    8. Coathangers. It might be easier to pack by just leaving your clothes on the hangers.
    9. If you need blank flash cards to learn Russian words then please bring some. We haven't found them in Moscow stores.
    10. A reusable bottle for water if you prefer it to the single-use bottles.
    11. Here is a list of food items that are difficult to get in Moscow: Peanut Butter (narrow range of brands and not of the best quality), Maple Syrup (expensive), Grape Nuts cereal, Cocoa Krispies, Cap'n Crunch, Cheez-Its, Oreos, Beef Jerky, Whey Protein.
    12. What not to bring

    As you may note the list above is very specific because everything else can be found in Moscow stores. Here are a some of the things that are almost pointless to bring across an ocean.

    • Multivitamins, Calcium, Vitamin E, Herbal Supplements, etc., and over-the-counter medicines like Aspirin, Cough Drops, etc. They are sold in most pharmacies. If you are not sure about a particular medicine feel free to ask us by email.
    • Gigantic bottles of shampoo.Brands like Dove, L'Oréal, and others are commonly sold in Russia
    • Notebooks. Paper is a different size in Russia, just as it is in the rest of Europe (it's A4, not letter-sized).
    • Sheets, blankets and dishes. They will all be in your dorm room.

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