Iva Aleksieva, 21, is a last year Accounting and Finance student at Cass Business School, part of City University London. Three years ago Iva graduated with excellence from the High School of Natural Science and Mathematics in Burgas, Bulgaria. In the following interview she reveals her biggest challenges and best experiences in university, her future plans and gives some advice to those who are about to take on her journey.
How and when did you decide that you want to study in the UK?
I was 16 when I started considering my opportunities for higher education. I decided that I want to study abroad and get an internationally accepted degree from a renowned university. I thought about going to the US for a while but in the end, I chose the UK because it is closer to Bulgaria, undergraduate degrees take less time (only 3 years in my case), and England offers some financial benefits to its students. On top of that, London has a specific multicultural atmosphere which cannot be found anywhere else in the world and I wanted to experience it.
How did you decide to do Accounting and Finance in particular?
I have never actually considered any other courses. I was good at maths in high school and I was always interested in finance. I think this choice came naturally and I haven’t questioned it so far.
What made you choose City University?
I chose Cass Business School because of its good reputation of academic excellence, employment prospects, world-class facilities and enhanced student experience. Its location in the heart of the City also contributed to my choice.
The Accounting and Finance degree at Cass is delivered in partnership with the ICAEW which means that students who meet the relevant criteria can achieve up to eight exemptions from the ICAEW’s Chartered Accountant qualification, which is a huge benefit.
The university exceeded my expectations as it went up in the rankings and was listed 1st in London and 4th in the UK for Accounting and Finance.
What were the biggest challenges that you faced during the three years in university?
It took me some time to adapt to the higher education system in England and its differences to the high school education system in Bulgaria. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of self-study and preparation required and had some difficulties in my first year but I got used to it later on.
Other things I had to cope with were being away from my friends and family, learning to take care of myself and living independently.
What was the best thing about studying Accounting and Finance at City University London?
I particularly like the creative and challenging environment of Cass Business School. I have met a diverse range of people and made life-long friendships. All my lecturers have been truly inspiring and passionate but also helpful and understanding.
How did you decide to set up a Bulgarian Society?
When I came to London, I started communicating with people from all around the world. However, I quickly became closest to those from my native country, simply because we had most in common. I am lucky to have found such amazing people here.
Together, we decided to set up a society with the aim to unite all Bulgarians in the university and to promote the Bulgarian culture and traditions to others. We also offer advice and support to Bulgarians who consider applying at City.
People say that living in London is an expensive luxury. Do you think that finding a part-time job is easy?
Yes, finding a part-time job is easy. Numerous companies and agencies offer part-time work for students. However, managing your time between university and a job can sometimes be challenging. There are periods (especially before exams) when university requires your full time and attention.
Can you summarise the three years in university in just one sentence?
An amazing experience, which thought me a lot about Accounting & Finance, about life and about myself.
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently seeking employment opportunities in Bulgaria and I plan on returning back there when I graduate.
What made you decide to go back in Bulgaria straight after uni?
Studying abroad allowed me to gain a global mindset and knowledge of other cultures but it also allowed me to see my own culture through a different lens. I learned to appreciate my country and do my best to promote it and work in its favour.
I realised how important the feeling of home is for me, and for now I don’t think I can cultivate this feeling in a place other than Bulgaria.
However, I am still very young and I don’t want to make any life-long plans.
Interview by Denitsa Dimova