April 02, 2022

ICF Scholarship Recipient Stories: Tatiana Soboleva, MGIMO Tashkent

Last year the International Chodiev Foundation (ICF) and MGIMO branch in Tashkent signed a long-term Memorandum of Cooperation until 2025.

One of the most important areas under the memorandum is funding a scholarship programme for gifted students – their tuition fees are paid in full by the Foundation. This cooperation is the first scholarship programme at MGIMO-Tashkent.

For more than thirty years, the ICF Founder Dr Patokh Chodiev, an alumnus of MGIMO  himself, has been supporting MGIMO and its wide range of projects, as a sign of his gratitude to his alma mater (please follow this link for more details). With the opening of a branch of MGIMO in Tashkent, ICF has also begun supporting its projects in Dr Chodiev’s homeland.

Today, we begin a series of interviews with ICF scholarship recipients at MGIMO-Tashkent. We hope that ICF scholarships will give them a good professional start, and their stories will inspire other students and applicants. All scholarship recipients are talented, intellectual, and highly motivated individuals who successfully went through a rigorous selection process. It was a real pleasure for our team to meet them, and we do hope that this series of interviews will be of interest to all our readers.

Tatiana Soboleva is a first-year law student at MGIMO-Tashkent. True literature and arts aficionado, Tatiana already won several prizes in various theatre and journalism contests. She has been brought up in a family of parents with disabilities.

Tatiana, you had already done a lot of academic work before applying to MGIMO. Undoubtedly, receiving the scholarship was  a great achievement for you. Could you tell us about yourself today, as a MGIMO-Tashkent student?

I like theatre, fine arts and poetry very much, I also like reading. However, these days almost all of my time is taken up by my studies; they are very interesting, but complicated, so I don’t have a lot of free time. But when I do have free time, I devote it to creative activities – I draw, visit various exhibitions and theatres. Studying at our university is difficult, but I do not regret my choice.

Why did you choose law and what do you think about the programme?

I have always liked learning foreign languages and I knew that MGIMO puts a lot of emphasis on language learning. Law is a  broad field, especially since we study International Private Civil Law, which is even more interesting. We study international relations and the basics of diplomacy, we learn about countries and  the world in general.

Before I enrolled, I decided that combining the areas of law and languages was a good idea. We study two languages at MGIMO – English and a second language – either French or German. We will begin studying the second language next year, and probably the list of languages will be expanded. In my view, learning languages is both interesting and useful. As for the disciplines of my specialty, I really like ‘History of the State and the Law’, ‘Theory of the State and the Law’, and ‘International Relations’. I was always interested in learning how international relations and justice work together. At university, we have the opportunity to understand this system and see it from the inside. I think I got into the right place – exactly where I needed to be.

What subjects do you particularly enjoy?

History of the State and the Law’ is quite impressive. Another interesting subject is ‘Modern Legal Systems’, which helped me understand the principles of legal systems, how modern legal systems are structured and interconnected, and how that affects the political situation in the world. Also, I like ‘International Relations and World Politics’. Through lectures, seminars and independent work I’ve gained a better understanding of the contemporary political situation, and now I have a clearer understanding of what is going on around us. At first, it seemed very difficult to understand all these connections and how the international relations work. But now, I realise that it is possible, with some effort and the help of our professors. In my view, these subjects are particularly important for international law students.

You seem so happy to talk about your studies. Could you please tell us about  three main skills you have learned at university so far?

With the start of the studies and current workload, I’ve learned to realistically assess my capabilities, sometimes to refuse something and say ‘no’. I always try to help, but now I wouldn’t promise something that I can’t do. And I have learnt the time management skills, of course. During my studies I learned how to plan my time and to set priorities, and I’m still working on it. I realised one very important thing: if you want to have time for  everything, you need to structure your day, make a schedule, do everything on time, don’t put things off, don’t try to write a term assessment paper a few days before the deadline or finish all outstanding tasks within two hours. Another skill is to set concrete goals. I believe that everything you do should have a goal. You don’t have to limit yourself to small goals, you have to widen them. If, for example, we are given homework, it’s not given to us so that we can do it fast just to get a grade for our work. No, they give us an assignment to gain new knowledge and then apply it to our lives. Nothing should be done for the sake of doing, every task should be meaningful. Your actions and decisions should help you develop, not the other way around. It is worth developing a rational approach to everything you undertake.

You said that you like to read books. What does reading give you and who are your favorite authors?

I like Ernest Hemingway, although his writing is quite complicated. But I like that. In general, I like works in which the author shares his reflections, and works that you can reflect on. My favourite is ‘A Moveable Feast’. It’s philosophical and very deep. I also love Alexander Kuprin’s works, his short stories. I like how the writer shows relationships: in society, between friends, and between people who love each other. I really liked the model of relationships that Kuprin portrayed in his work ‘A Clump of Lilacs, in which he described the relationship between a couple who were more friends than anything else.

Also, I would like to mention Mikhail Bulgakov. His novel ‘The Master and Margarita’ is something wonderful and just unbelievable. I also like the writer Valentin Kataev, his book ‘Mosaic of Life or  or the Magic Horn of Oberon’ definitely takes an honourable place among my favourite books. At the moment, I’m fascinated by the history of art, and I’m trying to understand postmodernism, which is a relatively new direction in art, although is still being argued about. There is also postmodernism in modern literature. 

So what was is it that attracted me to art? It’s the fact that you can look at the world from different angles. If you look at the works, both in the visual arts and in literature, you will see that  each trend has its own characteristics and its own meaning. What is interesting about postmodernism is that the meaning of a particular work is offered by the reader himself, rather than by the author, and that everything mainly depends on the reader’s or the viewer’s perception and interpretation. I decided to find out more about postmodernism, and so, following the advice of my university teacher, I was introduced to the work of Victor Pelevin, specifically his work ‘T’, which is exactly a postmodernism work.

What are your future plans? How are you planning to apply your knowledge? We understand that you’re only at the beginning of your journey, but do you have any ideas already?

When I entered university, I was very interested in environmental law, and I still am, but this subject will come up only in my second or third year. Now, after the courses I’ve taken, I’m quite interested in international law and politics in general. At the moment, we are studying ‘Constitutional Law of Foreign Countries’, which is a very interesting subject. I think I’ll be moving in that direction. But we are just beginning to study, we haven’t completed all the courses and we haven’t studied all the subjects and we still have a lot to learn. And, probably, my priorities in the future will change.

And what do you do at university in your free time?

We have  ‘Speaking Club’, which is a debating club where we practise English, there’s  ‘What? Where? When?’, an intellectualclub, where we, i.e. our university team, travel to different universities and participate in intellectual games. We also have ‘The UN Model’ club named after V. Churkin, in which students are directly involved. There is also ‘Legal Club’, members of which are invited on excursions to the courts, and prosecutor’s office. Members of this club develop their outlook, study the work of law enforcement, executive and legislative bodies. It is a very good practice. MGIMO Tashkent also has a sports club, and an IT club for fans of modern technologies. At our university you can find a club for any taste, you can even open your own – just come with a proposal to the management, and they will definitely support the initiative. I would like to take part in all clubs, but, unfortunately, I don’t have enough time, so I have to make a choice. So I chose volunteering, I help my university to hold events like ‘Open Doors Day’ or travel to international educational exhibitions. In general, student life is hectic!

You are a student at an excellent university, you won a scholarship from ICF, which means that you are a real winner and an inspiration to many students. What advice would you give to other students and applicants?

My first advice is to study and get to the heart of the matter, to go deep into the subjects and not stop  at the surface, whatever you are studying – whether its  maths, Russian or English, it doesn’t matter. You have to understand what you’re studying it for, how it can help you. Don’t be afraid to spend more time to  think, analyse, find your own wayof solving the problems. If you understand the essence of the subject, if you get to the very basics of it, you will develop as a person. The most important is not to stop,  otherwise you risk losing all the progress you’ve made.

Secondly, never give up and always believe in yourself. If you feel that what you’re doing is your true calling, if it’s what you like and what you love, then don’t be afraid to turn it into your main goal. Develop yourself to achieve it. Go all the way, take criticism, learn from your mistakes, and don’t be afraid to make them. Only those who stand still don’t make mistakes. Make use of all the opportunities that life gives us, and then you will see that nothing is impossible.

This is advice I once gave myself, and if I hadn’t taken it in time, I wouldn’t be at MGIMO right now. It helped me to change my life, to become a better person. Learning is power and the opportunity to learn must be seized. That said, of course, you have to believe in yourself.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I want to express my gratitude to Dr Patokh Chodiev and the employees of the International Chodiev Foundation. Thank you for the opportunity to study at such a prestigious university and to develop myself, to become better day by day. I am very glad that the ICF provides scholarships for students. I often meet gifted kids who can’t afford to pay tuition. But when they hear about the scholarship, I can see hope in their eyes, they realise have a chance to improve their lives and reach their full potential – and this is precious.

Thank you for your time,Tatiana. We wish you all the best in your creative and academic life!

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