Interview with SGIA MGIMO 1st year student Joshua Orendach (USA)

Interview with SGIA MGIMO 1st year student Joshua Orendach (USA)

We are glad to announce a series of interviews with SGIA students about why they chose MGIMO, what they like about it and how it feels to be a foreign student in Russia. Our first speaker is 1st Year student Joshua Orendach from the USA.

What were your expectations of Russia at the beginning and what can you say about it now?

My expectations were based on prior knowledge of Russian history and culture and knowing a few Russian mates. Russia is a well rounded nation. Not that Western propaganda’s caricature of everyone dirt, poor or living on the streets. I had a culture shock when I came because in many parts of the US people rent houses or apartments while in Russia people own quite nice houses for affordable prices. I found out later that people in Russia own homes more than people in the US. I don’t mean the latter are homeless but people in the US are often renting more than they own homes due to economic factors. In Russia I made some nice friends and met good people who showed me cultural sights such as Kremlin, Holy Monastery of Dmitry Donskoy, Arhangelskoe Estate, The Military Cathedral of Armed Forces, Pushkin Art Museum and much more. Russian architecture is beautiful and there is always great food to taste weather you want Russian or German or Armenian or Chinese or even Indian. I am glad I am studying Russian because knowing it helps to get more involved into the culture.

How did you come up with decision to enter MGIMO SGIA? Tell a bit of your personal story.

It was well interesting. After losing my father in 2020, who was very important to me, I moved out and it was only 6 months after my graduation and during Covid season. I actually ended up moving 5 times before arriving in Russia. I was working for the next year and had enough time to think about my future. I wanted to study in university but I wasn’t sure what specifically. I didn’t want to do something I was uninterested in and bored of. One day in the middle of summer I had the idea of doing something in Diplomacy. I am very well into politics and political activism, I also love to travel (I’ve been to 10 nations already). That’s when I looked at Russia. I was always interested in its history and knew a lot about it. I grew up between a Protestant father and Roman Catholic mother but in 2017 I decided, after looking at the theology of Christianity and even Islam, to become an Orthodox Christian, part of the Russian Orthodox Church. I also had some Slavic roots as my father's side relatives were Germans who settled in East Slovakia next to modern day Ukraine, so I am Slovakian as well as German. I also visited Russia in 2019 during winter and it was a great experience despite the stereotypical dreaded 'Russian Winter'. While I may be only 2% Russian, it still has a small place in my heart and I feel connected to it. So I decided to look at Russian universities and found MGIMO. It was ranked within the top 140 worldwide overall, top 40 in International Relations and Diplomacy and yet was way cheaper than Western universities of the same level. So I applied, got the exam, waited anxiously for a response and finally was received. It was truly one of the greatest achievements I made in my life so far.

What had you heard about MGIMO before you entered? Have your expectations met reality?

I’ve heard of MGIMO in passing from my friend who is half Italian, half Russian but I looked more into it as I found out the famous Sergei Lavrov studied here. He is one of the most well known diplomats of our age. I was very excited to begin a journey to the Heartland of Russia. When I arrived it was a bit difficult due to communication. I did learn some Russian in prior years but I took huge breaks in learning, so it got rusty and sometimes it took a bit long to convey a point across. MGIMO is very professional, very clean, well organized, and it has very respectful, helpful, and friendly people working there and attending it.

What do you think about quality of education in MGIMO? What's special about it for you personally?

I think MGIMO provides education of a very great quality as I’ve been learning more and more about International Relations. I’m constantly getting recommendations about books from my professors. They are very friendly and know English perfectly, considering MGIMO is situated in Russia where English isn’t that prevalent as in Netherlands or Switzerland, for example. The Staff in our faculty is very helpful and will go out on a limb for its students to help us continue our studies here and ease the process of getting from point A to point Z.

Can you say that studying in MGIMO has opened new opportunities for you? Maybe you have already found a job or another way to put acquired skills in practice?

MGIMO has offered me great opportunities both directly and indirectly. It has given me the chance to get the potential of graduating from a prestigious and high ranking University. I have also met people such as Sergei Lavrov and the South Ossetia’s Ex-President Eduard Kokoity. Thanks to MGIMO I can attend, as a guest, to some important international events such as the upcoming Russia-Africa Summit this summer.

On SGIA MGIMO-Univeristy