I remember seeing a gorgeous photo of the campus in the centrepiece of a study abroad magazine and immediately knew that I wanted to live there: it was exactly how I imagined university life.
It was a cultural shock moving from a traditional, conservative Eastern European country to a busy university hall in Scotland. I was daunted by people’s ability to swiftly connect with and trust each other, and I thought I was going to be on the outskirts of a friend group.
This only made me step out of my comfort zone and reach out to my flatmates. They have been my friends for four years now, and we have become so close that I call them ‘family’. Moving here taught me valuable lessons about courage and the ability to accept and be accepted.
My time at Stirling has been the most incredible, fun and challenging part of my life so far. I’ll always remember stopping on the bridge at dusk to admire the breathtaking sunset. I changed, and I hopefully changed the people around me, because they definitely made me into a better person.
Multilingual graduate Doina Emilian has had a truly international university experience, after completing a four-year BA Law and Marketing.
Born in Moldova, Doina speaks four languages – Romanian, Russian, French and English – and it was this aptitude for communication that helped her pursue a raft of global study and work experience placements during her university career.
She said: “I have always been able to quickly pick up languages but English was my favourite. I knew I wanted to study alongside native speakers for my undergraduate degree. This is what drove me to apply to the UK.”
Completing no less than four work experience placements, and one semester studying abroad, Doina has seized every opportunity possible to travel and learn whilst at Stirling.
In her second-year, Doina completed a six-month internship at the Scottish Childminding Association, where she developed a good practice guide for child participation.
Doina said: “During this placement, I had the chance to collaborate with UNICEF, Stirling senior education lecturer Greg Mannion and the Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland, not to mention dozens of little ones. The experience allowed me to travel around Scotland and meet lots of new people.”
Doina then jumped at the chance to take part in the Erasmus exchange programme, spending a semester of her third year studying at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark – a country she quickly fell in love with.
After completing her semester broad, it wasn’t long before Doina had itchy feet again, departing for another internship – this time in Geneva.
Doina said: “The pinnacle of my university experience was becoming a Saltire Scholar and working for Barclays Wealth and Investment Management in Switzerland. I had known about Saltire internships since first year and worked hard to improve my CV in order to compete for a place.
“I was delighted to be selected and spent eight weeks in Geneva, working for a huge financial institution. I believe this experience shifted my perspective, my expectations and my ambitions, and made me a more focused person, ready to pitch my ideas to employers around the world."
As fourth-year of university arrived, Doina did not rest on her laurels. She worked with the University’s Study Abroad Office and in the legal department of ScottishPower, as part of her Work Placement in Law module, and was rewarded for her efforts at Stirling’s prestigious Student Talent Awards Recognition (STAR) Awards.
Doina added: “Working with ScottishPower was a great experience. It allowed me to understand the intricacies of a legal career path. I was very proud to become the Most Outstanding Student for the Law Work Experience Module at the STAR Awards. It was an unexpected accolade, and an extraordinary way to finish university.”
Originally attracted to Stirling by the idyllic campus environment, university life was a whole new experience for the 23-year-old.
Doina is now ready for the next international adventure after graduating with a first class honours and receiving the Oxford University Press Law prize for being the best graduating student on the single honours degree in law or any combined honours law programme in the University.