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Education for all

Five bloggers, five countries, one dialogue

The wrong expectations

Photo: Pavel Mylnikov

Stick to your hometown, or follow your dreams?

Reading Hellgurd’s article about women made me think about what we Russians do after university.

In the intro film to our educational blog I mentioned that I’m pursuing two degrees – I’m just interested in both spheres and can organize my life so that I have enough time to reach this goal. I also take online courses from American universities because the quality of education in my native city doesn’t suit me, and I want my skills to meet the global market’s requirements.

What worries me is that many young people choose majors not according to what they feel they are good at but according to what seems to be popular on the job market. Maybe that situation will change by the time they graduate. However, the winner is usually the one who takes not just rationality but also a bit of soul into account in making decisions.

At the same time, a lot of people’s expectations end up stopping them from building their futures. Lots of people think that staying in your hometown after school and getting a diploma there means you’ll spend the most of your life there, rather than working abroad or in another city. But that’s up to you to choose: the world is going global! Either you are an open-minded person and don’t take heed of this stereotype – maybe you’re also the kind of person who can move away without losing touch with relatives – or, on the other hand, you’re the type who follows the same path as your grandparents.

There’s been a lot of discussion about salary and gender in the blog. In the state sector in Russia, you will either be paid well enough or poorly regardless of your gender. If you’re well paid, you’re probably an official – and that is a trap. Too many people want to occupy this social position because of the money they will invariably get, but there’s a good proverb in Russia – too many cooks spoil the broth. The added number of officials doesn’t necessarily result in sage authorities. But other state employees like doctors or teachers earn less than their colleagues in Europe – and you won’t find many males in schools as many people believe a man should be the breadwinner; so men tend to build careers in other spheres.

As for the private sector, your income depends on your efforts to make a good business. A friend of mine used to work in a library for several months, but she realized from the very beginning that the pay there was not enough to lead the life she wanted, so she is running her own business now, and it’s much more interesting. Unfortunately, in order to register the company, she had to face the same level of bureaucracy – regardless of her gender.

Photo: Pavel Mylnikov

Taking things into your own hands - visiting the cafe my friend owns

Another case is the head of our language school – starting as a teacher in private sector, she managed to open her own school after 2 years. Now our chain is developing, offering more courses and opportunities to its pupils.

A friend of mine is a promising student who moved to our capital as his local university was not the gate to the global academic world. I won’t be surprised if he ends up getting some prestigious prize for research in economics. And that’s not even because he’s somehow privileged – the thing is, he’s doing what interests him.

The conclusion is: instead of doing nothing and complaining about how unsatisfactory life is, I think people start doing what they believe they’re interested in and they’ll have good results!


May 24, 2012 | 10:30 am