Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.

Michael Jordan

Introduction and Background

Hi! I am Silviya from Bulgaria and I am a Business and Human Resource Management graduate.

Since I was ten years old I knew I wanted to study abroad. Growing up, I was training very actively in athletics and basketball. I was competing in different national school games where I won several medals. In school I did well, however, I have never been the best student in the class. Indeed, I was really bad at languages! I started studying English in my kindergarten, however, I was interested in learning another language.

During my first year in High School, I had 18 hours of English classes per week. Moreover, I had private English classes because I was not doing well in school, so I needed some extra help. At the end of the academic year, I had an English exam where I managed to just get a pass. I knew that languages were my biggest weakness, but the biggest dream I had was to study abroad. Over the years, I attended different English schools with teachers from England and Scotland, however, my English level was still at a pretty low level.

Why did you choose to study in Scotland?

During my final year at my High School, I had to make a very important decision – go and study abroad or to stay in Bulgaria? Most of my classmates had decided to stay in Bulgaria, however, I wanted to explore a new culture and meet different people. I knew I did not want to stay in Bulgaria, so I started looking at different studying abroad opportunities. In particular, I looked at Denmark and Scotland. Moreover, I wanted to study in an English speaking country. I was on a tight budget so Denmark was quickly excluded as an option. I looked at universities in Scotland and I selected five universities. Luckily enough, I got a conditional offer from each university.

Most of the universities were asking for a minimum of 6.0 on the IELTS English exam. That was the biggest stepping stone for me. I booked a day for my IELTS exam, however, I failed the exam. I did not give up. I had the financial support of my family so I booked another IELTS exam. Sadly enough I did not manage to get 6.0 on the second exam either. Consequently, I had to take a gap year since it was already late August and I did not have time to prepare for another exam. I decided to go to Scotland anyway and be an Au Pair. This experience allowed me to live with a Scottish family for three months, learn the language and explore Scotland.

I fell in love with the beauty of Scotland and I knew that this was the place where I wanted to live. When I went back home I booked another IELTS exam. Again, I failed to get a minimum of 6.0 on each component of the exam, so I had to do the exam again. I felt I was losing confidence in myself, however, I did not stop trying and learning every day. At the same time, I applied for an undergraduate degree at Stirling and Glasgow Caledonian for the next academic year. Luckily enough, I got two conditional offers again. I knew that I wanted to go back to Scotland, so I pushed myself even harder and, on my fifth time of taking the exam, I managed to get 6.0 on my IELTS exam. It was a tough journey, but I MADE IT HAPPEN!

Why did you choose to study at Stirling?

During my gap year I went to visit the University of Stirling and I fell in love with the beauty of the campus. I would say it was love at first sight! Apart from the campus, I liked the flexible study opportunities that Stirling offers to its students. Moreover, I knew that Stirling is a very international university and I was very excited to meet people from all around the world. 

How was your experience of your final year ending with the coronavirus pandemic?

My final year at the university was one of the hardest BUT most rewarding years of my life. During my final semester at the university, I was writing my dissertation. During this time the coronavirus happened. All of the fourth-year students had to work with their supervisors remotely. Indeed, I was not able to do any face to face meetings with my supervisor. Moreover, the library was closed, so for the first time in four years I had to work from home.

It was not easy. However, I do believe the university has done as much as possible to make this situation a bit more enjoyable for the students. As a final year student, I was very concerned about my dissertation and how I was going to work from home, since I did have some technical issues with my laptop as well. I emailed the university about my concerns and I was provided with a laptop and an extension for my dissertation as well. I believe that the University of Stirling is an extremely student-friendly university and it has dealt with the coronavirus situation in the best way possible.

Thoughts on approaching the end of your time at Stirling?

Approaching the end of my time at Stirling, I feel extremely proud to call myself a University of Stirling graduate. I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities and people I met through the years.

Looking back on my first year, I can see that I was a very shy fresher. However, over the years I took advantage of all the opportunities that the University of Stirling has to offer. Being a student ambassador and class representative for several modules gave me an opportunity to develop my confidence and my public speaking skills. I was part of the basketball club and I joined several societies where I met people from all around the world. During my final academic year, I was the secretary of the Marketing Society. My main responsibilities were overseeing all the administration of the club, organisation of different events, as well as being the main point of contact between the Stirling Students’ Union and our society. Being in a committee gave me real-life experience of how members of an organisation can bring different values, viewpoints and abilities to the table. Moreover, it showed me that team diversity is a key tool for successful and creative decisions. Being part of an international committee helped me to develop my team-working skills and my problem-solving skills even further.

I am extremely happy to see how much I have changed since I joined as a nervous, shy fresher. I can see now that the experience I had at the university shaped the person I am today.

Plans for the future?

As much as I love Stirling, I know it is time for me to move on. I have got a Scholarship at the University of Strathclyde where I will be doing an MSc in Business Analysis and Consulting. I am leaving Stirling soon, however, I will always keep my sweet memories from the University of Stirling in my heart and who knows, one day I hope to tell my kids stories about my university life.

Advice for others thinking of studying at the University of Stirling?

Just go for it!