First-year student Anjali Avatapalli: ‘AUBG builds a bridge between two worlds’
Anjali Avatapalli is a first-year student at AUBG who was born in India but has spent all her life moving around. So far, she has lived in five different countries across four continents. Even though she has lived outside of India for the most part, she is still in touch with her culture and roots. Anjali moved back to India a few years ago and soon after, she came to AUBG to pursue a major in information systems.
Why did you decide to study at AUBG?
To begin with, I was searching for a university with a diverse environment that would encourage me to stay connected with my ideologies as well as get introduced to compelling new ones. In terms of education, I found that AUBG builds this bridge between two worlds by supporting the educational values that I had largely grown up with in the U.S. and then applying them in the European system. In terms of values, I saw how AUBG followed this notion of supporting students in discovering their commonality while still celebrating their individualism. Because of these qualities, I decided to pursue my studies at AUBG.
What extracurricular activities (clubs, work at AUBG offices, Exchanges, etc.) are you involved with at AUBG?
I’m currently a student assistant at the admissions office and my main responsibility is to get more students from India interested in AUBG. As far as I know only one other person from India, besides myself, is currently studying at AUBG. Indian youth is more exposed to educational prospects in the US, UK, or Australia rather than in Eastern European countries. Therefore, working at the admissions office is a wonderful opportunity for me to spread more information, along with my personal experience, about what living and studying at AUBG is really like. I believe this can encourage more Indian students to explore the option of studying here.
Because I started in the spring semester of this year, with the pandemic hitting I had to continue the rest of this year online and couldn’t quite be as involved as I’d hoped in extracurricular activities. But there are a few clubs I’m very much interested in and hopeful of joining in the coming semesters.
As an international student, what has been your experience with living and studying in Blagoevgrad and Bulgaria?
When I first arrived in Blagoevgrad the first thing I noticed was that everywhere I looked students or young people were bustling around, and that was one of the first things that made me feel safe and excited. Blagoevgrad adds to the enrichment that comes with student life at AUBG, in terms of how well the town caters to the needs of the university students be it with the variety of restaurants, clubs, or activities. I also just enjoy how Blagoevgrad has a very picturesque look of being nestled amidst mountains and nature. Given my background of traveling, I thought I was fairly prepared to live in Bulgaria but I was surprised by how different it was from anywhere I’ve previously lived.
Some of my initial concerns with moving to Bulgaria were the language barrier, in terms of how I’d interact with the locals without knowing the national language, and the adjustment to a new culture, where people were more reserved and distant than the cultures I’d grown up knowing. But I found that it wasn’t too much of an issue since the whole town was used to having international students and was quite considerate of how those students are in uncharted waters. Soon after I arrived in Bulgaria I started feeling like it was my new home. This could have not been possible without the help of the friendships I made with fellow students as well as the overall welcoming environment that I encountered at AUBG.
What advice would you give to students from India who are considering to apply to AUBG?
My advice to students from India is: take the leap! I know an integral part of the Indian culture is to test your limits and be the best, and that is what I feel you’ll find yourself doing at AUBG. From the diversity in academics, teaching methods, and learning environments, from the compelling aspects of student life, social and cultural gains, I can guarantee that the experience that awaits you in Bulgaria will certainly surprise you for the better. And the biggest challenge is simply taking that first step to start your journey at AUBG. As I mentioned previously, any worries about language or cultural barriers are easily dissolved by the kind of strong support system the university and other students offer each other. The community of AUBG is relatively small, which is what makes it so uniquely tight-knit, well-functioning, and accepting. Bulgaria and AUBG are certainly different from anything you might’ve faced, but in this case different isn’t bad at all, it’s what makes the place so exceptionally enjoyable and distinct. So my overall advice to students from India is: keep an open mindset, take that leap and prepare to encounter things you’ve never quite experienced before.