Vlogger, AUBG student Ilko Hristov: ‘I want to make this world a little bit better'
Bulgarian vlogger Ilko Hristov, whose YouTube channel boasts over 60,000 subscribers, joined the AUBG community this fall. Read our interview with the first-year student to learn more about what motivates him to create videos, how he got selected to study in the U.S. for a year back in high school, why he chose to continue his education at AUBG, and what are his plans and dreams for the future.
How did you first become interested in shooting videos and creating a YouTube channel?
My dream has been to be an actor since I was a little kid. Since I was five years old, I remember, back in kindergarten, we had those child plays. They were not very serious, the audience was only our parents, but I remember memorizing each and every line of every kid and telling their lines instead of them because they were so panicked. I was passionate about that since I was little. And, because of my passion for being an actor, I created my YouTube channel. I realized honestly that I am talking to myself pretty often. So, I decided maybe someone out there will probably want to hear what I am saying. Probably at least one person and it might make a difference for them, make a difference in their lives and it actually turned out it’s true. Many people, many more people than just one person today care about what I have to say.
I see mothers commenting that they want their sons to be like me one day, which is something I did not know I would ever hear. That is the main reason why I started my YouTube channel – because I wanted to make a difference in this world, make this world a little bit better, help change it just a little bit for the better.
There was a nice YouTuber that actually inspired me a lot. Her name is Olivera – her channel is Olives Branch. She is traveling around the world and I honestly saw myself in her. And I thought that if she has a YouTube Channel, then I can have it, too. And, yeah, these were the two main reasons why I started my YouTube channel.
When you were in the tenth grade, you went to study in the States. Could you tell a little bit more about how you got selected for this program, where did you study, what did you study and what was your experience there?
Yes, definitely. Starting from the very beginning, I was selected to go to the States via the Assist Program, which is a program that works internationally with countries all over the world. Its mission is to invest in young world citizens and help them receive a high-quality education in the States on a scholarship for a year.
First, I found out about this program in eighth grade from an alumnus, a friend of mine who went to the program. Then, I started getting interested in the program; I started researching, reading articles, meeting with people that have been selected for the program to understand what its goals are. And I realized that I want to try and apply myself. The program is actually very selective. It’s very competitive because there are only less the ten people that are selected from the country to go and they receive a full scholarship.
The organization is non-profit and works with donors from all over the world. And I am extremely lucky and thankful that I got the opportunity to go to the States and study for a year. There was a process application, like the application process at AUBG. You have to write an essay of motivation, you also have recommendation letters and it was very much like the process of applying to university. So, it prepared me for applying to AUBG as well.
In terms of where I went to study, the program finds you a place to study. It’s working with, I think, over fifty or sixty schools all over the U.S. and, based on the candidates’ interests, it places them in the school that they think is closest to their interests. So, for example, because I was so passionate about acting and theatre, the program sent me to Virginia, to a school called Stuart Hall School, which had a theatre. It is in Staunton, which is a small city in Virginia that is two hours away from the capital city, Richmond.
Why did you decide to apply to AUBG?
I like the American type of education, but I found out for myself that I love our country for what it is. I realized that my closest people are in Bulgaria, all of my friends, all of my relatives. I realized that I’m happy in Bulgaria where we have four seasons, we have beautiful mountains, we have stunning seasides. I realized that all of the foreigners that are coming to Bulgaria say that one day they want to have a house here. All of them want to come back. I realized that, you know, everyone is complaining about how much we don’t have, but we, Bulgarians, more often than not avoid thinking about how much we actually have. And then, I realized that I want my family to be in Bulgaria one day. I want to live permanently in Bulgaria, travel around the world, live here or there for a year or two just to have the experience. And, so, I found out that I can have the American type of education while being in the place that I feel happy and that’s how I decided to apply and study at AUBG.
Why is it important for you to share your life at AUBG with your followers?
The most important reason for me to do that is that I see opportunities that many people don’t know about. For example, when I applied for the Assist Program, very few people in my school knew about this opportunity – and it's not like there aren't enough capable people of applying and getting accepted. And it is a life-changing opportunity. Going to the States in eleventh grade to study in an independent school, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Less than 0.01 percent of the kids in Bulgaria have that opportunity. I realized that and I’m beyond thankful and I want more people to know about those opportunities out there.
And AUBG, I believe, is one of those opportunities. I want to reach out to more people and show them that there are opportunities for liberal arts education here. Many people don’t even know what liberal arts education is because the Bulgarian type of higher education is not liberal arts. Most of the universities would not let you choose the subjects that you study and then see whether you like them or not, whether you want to major in them or not. And, so, I believe that the more people know about this opportunity, the better. Because some may know and may not take this opportunity, but others might be like, that’s exactly what I was looking for and I thought that this is only possible when you go abroad. But, then, it’s actually possible even if you are in Bulgaria. And it’s good for Bulgaria’s economy if you stay in Bulgaria, which is something that might sound cheesy, but, you know, it’s important because Bulgaria’s economy is not in the best position right now. So, the more you can contribute to it, the better.
Have you decided what are you going to study here and which extra-curriculum activities you are going to take advantage of?
Yes, I have been thinking about that and I want to do a double major. One of my majors I want to do is Business Administration with a focus on Marketing. And the other one I would like to do is Film and Theatre Studies, which is not a major yet, but I’ve heard it might be a major by the time I graduate. The reason behind the Business major is that I want to have my own business in the future. I would like to offer a useful service to the people out there. I have not decided yet on the specific type, probably I’m going to have merch on my YouTube channel or something like that soon. I haven’t decided that, but I know that I want to offer a useful service. And as for the other major, the Firm and Theatre Studies, I think it’s self-explanatory. My dream is to be an actor and I want to change this world for the better and that’s why I’ve chosen this second major.
As for the student clubs, I have been considering the Broadway Performance Club and the Drama Club this year, but since I am a new student I have not yet got used to the place. I have to build the habits of studying, of getting used to the environment, and at the same time maintaining my YouTube Channel. I want to first settle with that and be okay with myself and with the place, and then I want to dive in further into the clubs and other activities and everything.
What are your dreams for the future?
My biggest dream for right now is to continue doing the things I am doing on YouTube. To go further, to strive for more, to never give up. Because there are those times when you find it hard to continue because of the obstacles that you face. And, my dream is to not give up when the hardest moments come.
My dream is to keep having the amazing people around me – my closest friends, my closest people, my lovely family that supports me very much. My dream is for all of them to be alive and healthy, and everything to be all right so that we can all be together because they truly inspire me to be the person I am.
My dream is to stay in Bulgaria, to have a nice home. In five years, I want to have a house in Boyana, in Sofia, hopefully [Boyana neighborhood in Sofia hosts one of the leading film production studios in Europe]. My dream is to change the world, if possible, a little, not a lot, but changing one person is changing the world, and if I can do good for one person, then I would be happy.