Opinion|AUBG Through the Eyes of a Local First-Year Student
Usually the basic information I share with other first-year students is followed by an expression of utter surprise. Most freshmen are amazed by the fact that I am local. Is it really so special, or strange even? To be fair, being local makes me feel a little less intimidated by the new experience that is the first year of university, and it also cuts that experience down quite a lot.
My name is Katerina Avramova and I am a first-year student from Blagoevgrad. I graduated from the local High School of Mathematics and Sciences where I first became keen on computer science, languages and literature. Not long ago I also started working as a student assistant in Panitza library because working on campus is an opportunity to gain experience, make friends, and aid my education while helping others and enjoying the atmosphere of a library.
I must have first heard of the university when I was a child. I witnessed the construction of the campus but it never occurred to me that those machines I observed on my way home would build the place where I would find the right place for me to build my future.
However much I
heard, nobody could prepare me for what was really coming my way. From the very first day of the orientation week, I was dragged into a whirlwind of endless information, numerous events and people I didn’t know . I can’t imagine how students from other cities and countries felt when they first went to the campus. It must have been a greater shock because of everything unfamiliar – our language, our culture, even our climate . But after every long day, I went back home and shared everything with my family. I returned to my home’s comfort so I could recharge for the next day, whereas my fellow non-local AUBG-ers stayed far away from their families.
For Iris Dyrmishi, an Albanian first-year student, the biggest problem at the beginning was the different language. She expected most Bulgarians to know English but it was not the case. With the help and support of other students, and especially resident assistants, she acquainted with the atmosphere in town and is now brave enough to go around alone. Even though she misses her home country, family and her whole life there, she enjoys everything about living on campus. Students who live on campus have numerous opportunities to have fun and be together all the time. For her, “it is perfect,” and she is “happy with living here.”
On the other hand, the students from abroad stayed with so many new people they had the opportunity to get to know. All others had the chance to listen to strangers’ stories, tell their own and share experience while having fun, both excited about and afraid of what AUBG might hold in store. I still wonder what foreigners who come to Bulgaria for the first time think about my hometown. What did resident assistants first show them? What were students’ first impressions? What are their favorite places, if they have any?
As a student who doesn’t live on campus, I cannot follow all the events and parties that happen spontaneously. It is much harder for me to form close relationships because I see most people once or twice a week for no more than a couple of hours, during a class. In addition, I don’t have the chance to be surprised, to be challenged. I know every corner of the town; Bulgarian is my mother tongue, and this is my home country. It feels as if I’m experiencing just a part of what happens.
Others envy me for my closeness to my own home where at the end of the day I can finally get some rest. I envy them for their closeness to other people who may turn out to be their future best friends, associates, spouses. Even the shiest students who live on campus have the chance to socialize with new people who might teach them new things while it is harder for a local student to mingle immediately. I have to admit I still rely on the opportunity to hide away in a quiet place for an hour or two without being noticed.
How you look at your first-year experience depends on where you come from. And while you consider me and other local students lucky for being close to home, I consider you lucky for having the chance to truly feel what university life feels like, with all its pros and cons. AUBG is a diverse community which has gathered hundreds of people who have similar ideas about their future but
still have completely different interests, hobbies, backgrounds and dreams. No matter how different we are though, we are all wanted and appreciated and this is what I like the most about this university.