The MGIMO School of Government and International Affairs

Alumni Interviews

Ekaterina Chabykina

Ekaterina Chabykina

Russia, Class of 2019

1. When you think about the years you spent at SGIA, what are your memorable experiences?

I remember the «corridor of sadness». It is where the Arabic Language Department is located — on the third floor. I have distinct memories of our group of students reading a book in Arabic and trying to repeat for the class. I still remember the stressful minutes of waiting.

After third year, I also remember distinctly travelling to Sochi with other girls from our Arabic group and some graduate students as volunteers helping to conduct a «national dialogue» between the Syrian government and the opposition. We flew on a huge military plane, perhaps it was IL-74. It had no windows, and we kept our luggage between the legs — it was a real adventure.

2. To what extent your expectations were met by MGIMO University and the School of Government and International Affairs?

It was a completely new experience. Before enrolling in SGIA I attended a high school in Canada and spent a few years at a university where we only had 15 hours of classes per week. When I arrived at MGIMO, I was almost shocked — especially during the first year. We were so busy, with so many classes, including languages, that I thought I wouldn’t survive. Then I realized that a broad variety of courses actually help you to broaden your worldview, look at the world from different angles. It was a good experience; tough, but very useful.

3. Could you share your thoughts on how best to prepare for a career in International Affairs?

In my opinion, you need to find an area of study or professional activity that is going to be exciting for you. And you have to keep learning, educating yourself to keep that excitement. It is a life-long process. In any case, you should start thinking about your future career early. Choose your internships carefully, they give you a good chance of finding your future occupation. Make sure to identify the faculty members at your school who have professional and research interests similar to yours, perhaps also have experience of working in the area of interest to you. Always look to learn from the people who may have the skills that you consider valuable. To make it simple — do not waste your time during the study program, try looking beyond the horizon.

4. From your perspective, what could be improved at MGIMO?

I would recommend using more real-life cases and examples in teaching, business school-style. That helps to place the knowledge you are being given into the context of your future career challenges. Another idea would be for the university to work harder placing its students in internships at international organizations — both inter-governmental and non-governmental. It is an important opportunity for those of our international students who will not be able or willing to practice international relations working for their respective foreign ministries. I would have appreciated an internship with a UN agency or a transnational NGO.