"Keep an open mind – let the whole EU become your job market"
What drew me to Euroculture was the opportunity to live abroad, travel, study something that I wanted to do for a living in the future and also get work experience. After Euroculture I feel like I can easily change countries and adapt to new different environments.
Why did you choose to study the programme Euroculture in Uppsala?
After finishing my BA in English Linguistics and Literature I felt like I needed to increase my employability by expanding my skills and knowledge in a different area. I also felt like I needed a change of environment. Before Euroculture I had only left Bulgaria on a couple of occasions for a very short period of time, and now I wanted to travel and spend some time living abroad. After doing some research I figured European studies best fitted my interests and what I wanted to study and maybe even what I wanted to do for a living in the future.
Another thing that really drew me to Euroculture was the fact that you don’t really get to just spend two years at one university, but you also get to study in three different countries. You also have the opportunity to spend a semester doing a traineeship, thus graduating already with some relevant work experience. Although to be honest, I would have been just as happy spending two years in Sweden – it’s a wonderful country.
Why did you choose to study in Uppsala?
I chose Uppsala among the eight universities in the programme because, first of all, I had always wanted to go to Sweden and I had always wanted to have the Scandinavian experience. The language also interested me a lot – when I graduated from high school I wanted to do Scandinavian studies in the capital Sofia but I couldn’t afford it, so Uppsala was my second chance, and really an opportunity to learn the language and this time from native speakers!
I figured Euroculture in Uppsala University was the perfect combination; it included European studies, something I was really interested in, and Sweden, a place I really wanted to visit and the culture I was eager to experience. This is the moment where I would like to thank our Uppsala programme director Benjamin Martin and the programme coordinator Cameron Ross for giving me the opportunity to be part of this amazing Master’s programme.
Did the programme meet you expectations?
At first, the traveling part was a bit scary because I figured: How can I change country twice in one year, something I had never done before? But in general, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been on an Erasmus exchange before, and I had never studied or worked abroad before so I did not know what to expect.
What I do know is that I am very content with Euroculture and I don’t regret enrolling in it. It’s not just the wonderful teachers I had and the things I learnt. In these two short years – time really flies when you have fun – I met a great bunch of incredible brilliant young people some of which I am proud to call friends even though we are now miles apart. I also got to live in three different countries in two years – Sweden, France and Luxembourg.
What is your best memory of the education?
It’s tough to single out one particular memory. But my top three are definitely the intensive programme in Bilbao in Spain – a stressful yet amazing experience in the Basque country; our lovely four day study trip to Paris, which was organised by prof. Alexandre Kostka where we got to have the whole Musée d'Orsay entirely to ourselves; and, as weird as it sounds, our Legal Perspectives of the EU classes with our Swedish teacher Anna-Sara Lind. I never thought I’d find studying law (as briefly as it was) so enthralling. She made it fun. And beforehand I was so afraid of this class! I didn’t think studying law was my kind of subject.
Best memory of Uppsala?
My best memory of Uppsala is my whole fourth semester of the programme. My first semester in Uppsala was during the winter, which was a bit dark, but my last one was during the spring. And I must say that there is nothing more exhilarating than welcoming spring in Sweden especially after a long winter in a town bound in ice and snow.
What knowledge and experiences from your time with Euroculture is the most valuable for you today?
You learn so many things consciously and unconsciously during this programme, and you use a lot of the skills that you don’t realise you learnt during the programme. Apart from all the theoretical knowledge about the EU, most of which I got from the brilliant Mrs. Bianca Polo Del Vecchio’s classes in Strasbourg, I feel I generally gained a lot of life experience and a sort of ”life flexibility”, if you can call it like that. I feel like I can easily change countries and adapt to new different environments a lot quicker now.
I also developed my critical thinking skills, and most importantly, my second semester in Strasbourg sort of made a feminist out of me, for which I would like to thank Ms Petra Christov and Mr Terence Boyle, because we had a lot of discussions about that in their classes.
Is it something you had wished to know as a student, things you do know today?
I don’t tend to think like that. I prefer to think that if there’s anything I didn’t know before, that I know now, then what’s important is that I know it now. That’s all that matters.
What do you do today?
I work for a consulting company called Ecorys UK. I specialise in editorial services and translation coordination. One of our biggest clients at the moment is the European Commission so I work on various European projects related to education and culture.
What do you appreciate most with your work today?
What drew me to my current job are two things. First of all, the multilingual aspect of it; I have always been interested in languages, linguistics and translation. But also the European aspect of it; the platform I am working on aims to become the go-to site for adult learning professionals in Europe and it’s amazing to be part of such a big international project.
Do you have tips or advices to students who wish to study Euroculture?
If you like constant travelling, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures almost once every six months for the next two years, then this is the programme for you. Learning how to pack your whole life in a 23-kilo suitcase and be constantly on the move is something that you have to learn if you choose Euroculture.
Choose your second university carefully, and most importantly; make the most of your programme – exchange opinions and discuss ideas with your classmates and teachers as much as you can, because this will probably be one of the most invaluable things you will pick up from this two-year programme.
Interview Euroculture programme alumni
Name: Rumen Halachev
Residence: Birmingham, the UK
Student at Euroculture in: 2011–2013