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Nikolina from Bulgaria – Computer engineering

Nikolina Chalakova is 22 years old and comes from Bulgaria. She is studying for an MSc in computer engineering, at Katrinebjerg, which runs along the university's large park in the middle of Aarhus.

Why did you come to Denmark to study?

"I've always been good at English, and I've always wanted to study abroad. The question was just where? Initially, I looked at Austria and Germany, or perhaps England, but none of them really suited me. I came across some blogs online, where international students talked about student life in Denmark, and it seemed to be nice, quiet and calm - a good place to be. However, some people thought life was difficult in Denmark because it’s quite expensive to live there, so I was a bit worried about it all. But my mind kept returning to Denmark as a country of study, and I finally decided to go for it."

The first days at Aarhus University

"I was a little apprehensive at first. I was worried about whether it was way outside my comfort zone. I sometimes think too much about things and worry about whether I’ll cope. I’d rather not be the dumbest in class," she laughs, and continues:

"The learning curve was steep, mainly because the level at this MSc stage is simply very high. But all the lecturers were very open, and it was very easy to get help with problems. So far, everything’s gone smoothly."

What’s the teaching like at AU?

"All the lecturers are super-talented and really know their stuff, but the most important thing is that they’re always ready to help and answer questions. You feel that you’re on a par with your professors – that they really want to help where they can, and the door is always open if you need to talk. And they’re very keen that you don't get stressed about things. That you remember to relax and take a break. This means it all works very openly and straightforwardly and with a very flat structure at the university."

What about the social aspect?

"There are many social events, and there are many bars to visit at AU where you can enjoy yourself. The atmosphere also invites you to have fun with your fellow students. The Campus is a beautiful and integrated part of the city as a whole. I particularly like the University Park, but there are loads of places to go and have fun all over the city," she says.

What happens now?

"If possible, I'd really like to stay in Denmark when I graduate. I like working at Systematic, so I hope that I can stay there for a long time. Of course, you never know how things will turn out, but I hope they’ll take me on, I’d really like that. And then I look forward to moving to Aarhus to live. Today I live in Horsens, which is south of Aarhus, because it is cheaper, but I’d really like to live in Aarhus one day."

Nikolina was born and grew up in the small town of Pirdop, with approx. 8,000 inhabitants and located in southwest Bulgaria.

Nikolina came to Denmark four years ago and took a Bachelor of software engineering at VIA University College in Horsens. She started at Aarhus University (AU) to take an MSc in computer engineering in January 2020.

In parallel with her studies, she works for the software company, Systematic.