AUBG student Hristina Tsonkova: At AUBG, ‘everyone is eager to help you’
Hristina Tsonkova, who is a multiple time poetry reciting champion, a passionate aero yoga practitioner and a high-school theatre actor, has recently become part of the AUBG community. The first-year student plans to major in Economics and Journalism & Mass Communication and has already joined two student clubs - the Business Club and the Better Community Club. Hristina says that her participation in a number of competitions -- such as “Bulgaria in My Heart,” Able Mentor Blagoevgrad, Darbi’s Quiz “Education for Future” and the AUBG Multi Talent Quest -- have helped her master her skills, enrich her knowledge and make true friendships. In this interview, she tells us more about her personality, hobbies and interests and first impressions of AUBG.
What are the three most intriguing things the AUBG community should know about you?
Well, in January, I started practicing aero yoga and I think this is the best thing I do in my free time. It makes me relaxed and helps me release everything negative, especially after a busy day. Also, I love being part of theatre plays. In high school, I participated in one or two competitions with a few classmates. We staged a theatre play and we won a prize about “The Best Team Playing.” We felt appreciated. And, I’m also a multiple time poetry champion. I don’t write poetry but I recited it as a member of the Speech and Debate Team of my school.
Why did you decide to continue your education at AUBG?
First of all, I didn’t want to go and study abroad. I’m from Blagoevgrad and I live five minutes away from the most prestigious university in Bulgaria. This is [why] I realized I should grab this opportunity and apply.
Please tell us a bit about your vast experience with extracurricular activities: as a student ambassador, logistics coordinator and coach of the ‘Speech and Debate’ team at the local Foreign Language High School; as a volunteer at the AUBG Educational Summer Camp and the Balkan Voices, the BEST Foundation and Active Bulgarian Society; and as a frequent participant in Erasmus+ Projects?
I started being part of the Speech and Debate Team at my school in eighth grade. I started only as a participant and then, in ninth grade, they chose me to become a student ambassador. I went on a training where they taught me how to fundraise money and also, how to organize the whole travelling before going on a competition. We had to come up with ideas how to encourage more people to join the club. Then, I became a logistics coordinator, which is almost the same. At the end, in eleventh grade, I became the president of the club. I started coaching more and more people how to improve themselves in the different categories of the competition.
I think this Summer Camp showed me part of the AUBG community and showed me part of their life on campus. But still, I met many people who work here. Also, I had the opportunity to work with people who were students and they were counselors during the summer. There were also people from the United States, from Georgia and from Macedonia. So, I met many new people. I helped with the organization of the different activities and excursions during the camp.
Balkan Voices is a competition, which is organized by BEST Foundation – it also organizes the Speech and Debate competitions. So, Balkan Voices is a competition only about speeches and debates. So, again, we were part of the organizing the whole event here on campus.
My first experience with Active Bulgarian Society started when I first went with them in Poland on my second Erasmus+ Project. After that, I understood that there was an opportunity to become a mentor of the volunteers that were coming here in Blagoevgrad. So, they asked me if I want to join and become one of the mentors. When you are mentor, it means that you have to show them the city around, to go out with them and help them if they need something specific.
Erasmus+ Projects are one of the best things that have happened to me during my school education. The first three times when I applied they didn’t accept me because of the age limit. However, I didn’t give up and continued applying until I was accepted for my first project in Italy. All the projects have different topics and it’s really interesting because you can meet people from all over the world. For example, I have met people from Turkey, from Slovakia, from Lithuania, from Spain, from Italy. We had our international nights where everyone showed their traditional food and dances.
You won first place in the student recitation contest ‘Bulgaria in My Heart’. What did you recite and what do you think helped you win?
I won first place in eleventh grade. It was a poem by [Bulgarian writer] Ivan Vazov. I believe that when you are reciting, you really need to [experience] the words of the author so that you can understand it and show it to the people. In my opinion, I won because I showed the jury what I felt while reciting this poem.
You are also winner at the fourth season of Able Mentor Blagoevgrad. What was your project about and what did you learn during the program?
I signed for Able Mentor with my friends and at the beginning I didn’t really know what I was going to do. My project was about a scholarship which included the tax for IELTS preparation course and the tax for the exam. I wanted it for a person who needed this money and was talented, as well, because sometimes the talent is not the only thing you need in order to fulfill your dreams. My idea was to gather money throughout a cocktail and to give it to the person who really needed and deserved it. During ABLE Mentor I had a mentor from AUBG who is still an AUBG student.
What did you gain from your participation in AUBG Multi Talent Quest?
Well, many things, actually. I got out of my comfort zone because I had never done debates before. So, my teams and I prepared really hard the whole night. Also, there were different social problems that we had to solve and during these days we became really close to each other. We shared our ideas. I met fantastic people and not only from my team. Everyone was so talented no matter if it was in Art or in Sports or in Mathematics.
Tell us more about you winning at the Darbi’s quiz ‘Education for Future’ in Sofia. What is the quiz about and how did you prepare?
It was a long preparation because this competition is in two rounds. The first one is the regional one and the one that was in Sofia was the national one. The competition was about different universities in Europe and its aim was to educate other people what these universities have as facilities, education courses. The whole competition was in three rounds – a multiple-choice test, on which the whole team had to do it together, in the second we had to present one of the universities, and in the third round there were questions on different work spheres. We had the whole information beforehand. This was the best competition I have ever been on because we showed how hard we worked and the jury saw it. We did best out of the sixth teams, which were from all over Bulgaria. We won first place and went on a camp in the UK, which was going to help us preparing for the IELTS exam.
What has been your experience studying at AUBG so far?
It’s really different from the education in Bulgaria as a whole and here everyone is eager to help you when you struggle with something no matter if it is a professor, a student or someone from the staff.
What do you want to study here and why?
I am thinking about Economics and Journalism & Mass Communication. I want to have a double major, for sure. I have chosen Economics and Journalism because I believe they are different from one another and it will help me in the future when I am looking for a job.
In what extra-curriculum activities do you intend to participate in our university?
I am really excited about the events that we are going to organize with the two clubs I have already joined – the Business Club and the Better Community Club.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
As I said in the beginning, I love practicing aero yoga. Also, I like taking walks in nature, travelling and reading books. Spending time at home is also important – for example, just watching movies, cooking or sleeping.
What are you looking forward to?
I really can’t wait to build strong friendships which will last even after graduation. Furthermore, I am looking forward to becoming part of as many activities and events as possible.