Making the decision to go to university is never taken lightly, especially when it means leaving home. But what if, like Graphic Design student Maggie Raleva, your home is 1,500 miles away on the other side of Europe?
It’s pretty scary, according to Maggie, who's a 20-year-old student from Bulgaria, but also hugely rewarding.
“Looking back, remembering that scared kid you were and seeing how far you’ve come in such a short time is very satisfying.”
Now in her second year at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art studying Graphic Design, art is a major player in Maggie’s life. But coming from a country where her more unconventional artistic style had little chance of being appreciated or indeed being developed, pursuing such a career abroad was the obvious choice. With her family’s support, Maggie chose to study at Anglia Ruskin University after watching video clips of students talking about their university experiences – experiences which she soon came to realise weren’t just marketing spiel.
In the two years Maggie’s been at university, no one can accuse her of slacking. Not only is she one of ARU’s student ambassadors, she also works with the non-profit organisation Transformation Trust, visiting schools to inspire under-achieving students through creative projects.
She even founded the Pole Flex Society – ARU’s first pole fitness club and now one of the biggest sports societies at the uni. Running it with the help of the University and the Students' Union, Maggie talks of how the responsibilities and leadership skills involved in maintaining such a huge society have helped her to grow as a person. And, although they have had a positive impact on her studies, she adds how the life skills developed during this time are equally as useful for a future career as her academic preparation.
Looking back, remembering that scared kid you were and seeing how far you’ve come in such a short time is very satisfying.
Maggie explains how her tutors have helped her to harness her ideas without losing her enthusiasm, and how to look objectively at her work. She's been given the freedom to express her passions for performing arts through her artwork in the inventive tasks set on the course.
“I’m a very emotional person, spontaneous and quite chaotic! But my course has helped to ground me.”
Maggie’s journey from Bulgaria doesn’t end in the UK. She plans to take advantage of the University’s exchange programme by studying a semester in the Netherlands next year. With the excitement she has for her trip and of her future plans to run her own design agency, it’s difficult to imagine she experienced the self-doubts and fears that many other students feel. Her enthusiasm is catching.
Find out more about ARU's study abroad and exchange programme.