My experience as an international student

14 November, 2017
  • 6 min read
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I grew up in the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia, in a caring and loving family where I have always had the freedom to try out new things such as learning traditional Bulgarian dances, tennis, skiing and even karate. It was also very important for my parents that I learn foreign languages as well. Therefore, I started learning English when I was 5.

After some years, the moment came when I had to decide what I want to study after high school. I knew I wanted to study abroad, although I didn’t know what or where. It was only a year and a half before I graduated that the thought of studying hospitality crossed my mind, which was after going on a weekend trip with my family. During our stay in the hotel, I got curious about how everything worked ‘behind the scenes’, with numerous questions constantly popping into my head.

Right after this holiday, I started researching about the best places to study hospitality. I went to an educational fair and there I met an ambassador from Hotelschool The Hague and a hotelschool student. They told me about the school and the programme with great enthusiasm. From this point onwards, I knew that Hotelschool The Hague is the school, where I want to study.

I got accepted to Hotelschool The Hague in April 2015. It was one month prior to my final exams in high school and at that moment, I have not fully realised that, in just a few months, my life would change. I remember the day I checked into Skotel. I was with my parents and we could see a rush of people running around with their suitcases. I wasn’t sure what to expect from living with 16 other people with different nationalities, habits, traditions and values. I had to be adaptive and flexible and I learned to be patient.

A year later, I had to go on my first internship, half a year in Vienna, which means getting used to the new customs and new people. After a while, I realised that no matter in which country you are, as long as you stay open-minded and positive about what will come next, everything will turn out all right. When I look back to the past two years of studying here and being on internship, I can certainly say that it was an experience I wouldn’t exchange for anything else.

So far, I have learned three important lessons of living abroad:

  1. Always remember that people are different and have different stories to tell: each person is unique in its own way and she/he shouldn’t be underestimated.
  2. Learn how to be patient, learn how to find the positive sides and ‘squeeze’ the best out of every situation.
  3. Being an international student is not always easy. Of course, sometimes you will miss your home and family but remember, this is normal. I believe that it is even necessary because we should never forget where we come from and those who help us to be where we are now.

Looking ahead, after graduating Hotelschool The Hague, I would like to pursue further global experience in the Hospitality Industry so that I can open my own boutique hotel in Bulgaria. As Jack Kerouac wrote in his book “On the road”: We had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. This is the maxim I follow, the road is life and we have to keep on going and enjoy every step of it.

Author: Elena Kirilova, Hotelschool The Hague Student

About the author

Hotelschool The Hague

Hotelschool The Hague was founded and funded in 1929 by the hospitality industry to create a central place where industry partners could gain and share new insight, skills and knowledge. Since its foundation, the Hotelschool has become an international school specialised in hospitality management offering a 4-year Bachelor's degree in Hotel and Hospitality Management. This degree course is also available as the accelerated International Fast Track programme. Our 13 month Master Hospitality Management programme is designed to deliver the next generation of hospitality innovators.

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