Country of Origin: Bulgaria
7,351 million inhabitants
2.65 times the size of the Netherlands
Ana Velkova (22)
Where are you from and when was your last time back home?
‘I am from the northeastern part of Bulgaria, from the city of Ruse, which lies on the Danube river. Ruse is the fifth-largest city in Bulgaria and is roughly the same size as Groningen, but there are not so many students. I really enjoy spending my vacations at home, but Unfortunately I do not get that many opportunities to fly back. The last time back home was our last Christmas break. Usually I go home twice a year to see my family and catch up with friends.’
Why did you choose Holland and Groningen in particular for your study? In the beginning, in fact, I did not, as I was strongly considering studying Economics in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
However, that changed completely during high school, espe-cially when I visited an international education fair in Sofia were Hanze was also represented. Their presenta- tion totally convinced me of studying there!’ What is the biggest difference be- tween the Bulgarian and the Dutch culture? In my opinion the biggest difference between the two cultures is people‘s directness. Unlike Dutch people, who are known for being very bluntly frank, Bulgarians tend to play around with words a lot, in order to convey what they want. It was somewhat difficult for me to get used to the Dutch way and to adapt. However, after living here for quite a while now I actually prefer di- rectness. It makes things much easier, also from a professional point of view.
What was your first word in Dutch?
‘Fiets! Actually I just learned how to ride a bike when I came here. It was really a challenge, both terrifying and hilarious at the same time.’ Do you have any further experi- ences abroad? ‘Ever since I moved to Holland I got the opportunity to travel around Europe. So far the destination I have loved the most is Vienna. My most recent experience, however, was last semester, which I have spent in Budapest, Hungary. It was very en- riching for me and I am absolutely thankful for getting the chance to do it.’ Where are you planning to do your internship? ‘I have actually just recently started doing my internship here in Groningen at Hanze.
I am working for the Global Links office, which is providing information and assistance with the application procedures for students within the School of Communication, who are planning to go abroad for a semester, but also for incoming exchange students. What are your plans after graduat- ing? For now, my plan is to work for a year or to in order to gain some practical experience. After that, I will definitely continue with a master somewhere else in Europe. I do not see myself settling back in Bulgaria anytime soon, maybe when I get older or if I run my own business.
Text & Picture Ben Schumacher