MEET OUR INTERNATIONAL TEAM – VASIL

1. What is your home country? Are you currently living there or did you relocate?

I am from Bulgaria, but I spent much of my early years in Japan, so I would consider both of them as home. Currently, I am living in Sofia, Bulgaria. 

2. Did you study in your country or did you choose another one?

For my Bachelor’s degree, I studied in Bulgaria, but I then went on to do a Master’s in The Netherlands.  

3. What were your priorities when choosing the university?

I was keen on a vibrant international student community, which is exactly what Groningen offers, as well as a strong International Relations program. The accessible EU tuition fees, and the long-lasting traditions of the country in higher education, also played a significant role.

4. If you could go back in time, would you have preferred other studies? Which?

I was generally quite happy with my choice of studies. While the degree is quite broad, the focus on building analytic and critical thinking skills helped a lot in the diverse professional environments I went on to work in. I was also interested in journalism and writing, so I took a few courses in that area too. 

5. Was it easy for you to adapt to a different country?

It was fairly easy to adapt, probably given the fact that I had moved often when I was a kid. I was surrounded by students from all over the world, so we shared the same experience. Also, the university offered plenty of resources and opportunities to immerse ourselves in the local environment, through extra-curricular clubs and networking events. The public transportation network in The Netherlands is so well organized, which allows you to get to places quickly, and see most of the country.  

6. Did you speak the language? Did you experience any issues with that?

I didn’t speak Dutch, but that was no issue whatsoever, as the majority of locals have very good English. It is probably the easiest place to find your way around without speaking the local language.   

7. How helpful has your international experience been when finding a job?

Most of my professional path after university has included working with people from different cultures. Especially in my current position, organizing international events and promoting studying abroad, my background is helping me immensely. I understand both the challenges and the benefits of moving to a new country and truly believe everyone should try to do it at one point in their lives.  

8. What advice would you give to future international students?

Try to escape your comfort zone, explore the local culture, and network with other students, even outside your field of study. Your university days can be the period you’ll build the most interesting friendships and open unimagined doors to your future. Don’t be afraid if you’re still unsure what you want to pursue in your career, but make the most of the available resources. 

9. What is your favorite book?

I would have to go with two here. “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”.  

10. What is your favorite music genre?

I tend to like a fusion of different genres and exploring authentic new artists. Usually, I gravitate towards Latin music, blues, jazz, and indie-folk.  

11. Who inspires you?

Leonard Cohen.

12. What are your hobbies?

I love traveling and photography. Football is a huge passion as well (Valencia CF). In my spare time, I learn to play the guitar, read a book, or watch a movie. 

13. What is the most exciting place you have visited?

It’s extremely hard to pick one, but the Amazon rainforest probably stands out as the most impressive natural wonder. As a country and lifestyle, I am quite fond of Spain and always love going back. 

BENEFITS OF TAKING A GAP YEAR

Taking a gap year has many benefits for students, from a mental health point of view to a more practical one. This experience not only serves to give the student a break but also allows them to see the world from another perspective and gain a series of skills that will definitely make a difference when applying to university.