AUBG Senior Nikol Peeva: ‘I want people to know that Bulgaria has so much to offer'
9, 189 kilometers. That’s the estimated distance between Jupiter, Florida and Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. Two places AUBG student Nikol Peeva calls home. Having spent a big part of her life in the United States, Nikol chose to pursue the American dream in Bulgaria and applied for AUBG. In an interview for AUBG Today, she shared more about growing up on two continents, graduating from an American high school and experiencing four life-changing years at AUBG.
You’re a person who had the chance to experience the world from an early age. Can you tell us more about your origins? Where are you originally from? How long have you been living in the United States?
I was born in Stara Zagora. My family and I moved to Chicago, Illinois when I was 2 years old. We lived there until I turned 14. When I was 10th grade, we moved to Jupiter, Florida. My parents wanted me and my sister to get high quality education and the Jupiter Community High School was one of the best accredited high schools in the United States. I moved to Bulgaria when I graduated high school. I was 18 years old when I packed up my bags and left the United States.
What were the biggest challenges you faced while living abroad? What’s one thing you missed the most?
The thing that I missed the most was my family. The only family members that I had in America were my mother, father and sister. It was just the four of us. Everyone else was in Bulgaria. My life was split between two continents. My heart was in both places. Luckily enough, my parents sent me and my sister home every single year. We never missed a summer in Bulgaria.
We’ve all watched at least one teen movie about cheerleaders and baseball players. What’s it like to study at an American high school?
Studying in an American high school visually correlates to the movies but actually it’s not as perfect as it seems. Luckily enough, I’m very extroverted and I didn’t find it difficult to integrate myself in the high school community. I signed up for pretty much everything I could find. I was president of Speech & Debate club. I participated in various marketing and communications competitions. I was part of the Track & Field team. I was a cheerleader on the cheerleading team. I also participated in many other extracurricular activities related to the community. I was always active. But even though I was part of so many organizations in high school I still felt very different from everyone. I was physically there but mentally I didn’t feel like it was my place. I had different priorities from the people in the States. I wanted to touch upon the flourishing Startup community in Bulgaria.
Choosing a university is one of the most crucial choices in our lives. How did you come across AUBG?
I came cross AUBG from the internet. I was researching universities in Europe when AUBG came up. I watched a video on YouTube. I read every single page on the university website and I easily made my mind. I didn’t think twice and immediately shared my decision with my parents. They were happy with it. I’m very lucky to have parents who always trust and respect my decisions. All that I’m today, I owe to my parents.
How did your friends react when you told them you are going back to Bulgaria?
The reaction of my Bulgarian friends was very different from what I expected. It was not positive at all. They were very shocked. Most of the Bulgarians our age who live in the United States have the mindset that once you settle in “the land of the never-ending opportunities,” there is no reason to leave. The reaction of my American friends, however, was exactly the opposite. They were so interested. They genuinely wanted to learn more AUBG. I was happily surprised to see that they supported my decision more than my Bulgarian friends.
Tell us more about your AUBG journey. What are you majoring in? Are you part of any clubs?
I’m currently a Business Administration and Journalism and Mass Communication major. I’m concentrating in management. I’m doing a minor in Integrated Marketing Communications. I was thinking about graduating with business and economics but I switched to JMC last minute. I’m very happy with this choice because journalism definitely matches my personality more. When I was a freshman at AUBG, I joined StartUP Blagoevgrad. I’m currently the president of the club. I was also a member of AUBG Daily. I became senior editor and I learnt so much. It was truly wonderful. There is nothing more valuable than joining an organization that teaches you practical skills. Apart from attending my lectures and actively participating in extracurricular activities, I was also a full-time freelancer. I’m a workaholic and I’m addicted to doing things all the time. That’s why I didn’t let myself rest during my AUBG journey.
This year, I’m planning on applying for Elevate with an idea that will transform the fashion industry and minimize the negative ecological impact which the industry leaves on our planet. I'm hoping that in five years, my wonderful team and I will have made a positive impact within Bulgaria and on a global level.
What makes you proud to name yourself an AUBG-er?
My parents have worked so hard for me and my sister to develop and adapt a global mindset. We had the chance to live on two different sides of the world. I know how things work in the United States. I know how things work in Europe. Being able to see from different viewpoints is a golden skill. What I’ve noticed is that the people at AUBG also share this broader way of thinking. This makes me extremely proud.
Four years have passed since your first day at AUBG. Your academic journey is coming to an end. What are your future plans? How do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is the scariest question of all times. My life is very dynamic. Four years have passed and a lot has changed in my life and my career interests. I had the plan of always doing marketing. My freelance journey was mainly focused on marketing. However, I decided to take the risk and leave the realm of the familiar. I started on a full-time position as a client service manager at IBM. I’m extremely happy with my decision. All I want is to focus on my career development, put my best effort into my work, graduate successfully and make my parents proud.
In five years, I definitely see myself in Bulgaria. I want to build my life here. My goal is to engage in as many communities as possible. I want to be an example for all the people who leave Bulgaria and decide to return. I want to encourage people to come home and see how wonderful it is to live here. I want people to know that Bulgaria has so much to offer. I would like to be an advocate for students coming home and succeeding in Bulgaria.
Is there something you would like to recommend to the first-year students at AUBG? What’s your advice?
My best advice is to simply do things. Fail but never give up. Keep doing more things. In my freshman year, I founded my own organization but it didn’t continue. The thing is I tried. It’s all about throwing yourself straight into the deep. You want to join an organization but you get denied at the interview. Don’t hesitate. Apply again next year. Apply for other organizations. Talk to people out of your comfort zone. Talk to people cause you never know who might be able to direct you in a very positive way. Take more on your plate than you think you can handle and trust me you will be surprised by yourself.