Portrait of Bissera Ivanova

Bissera Ivanova

I come from Bulgaria, and I was born and lived with my family in the capital Sofia all my life. I went to an international high school there which gave me the opportunity to apply to some of the best universities in the UK and all over the world. While I was studying there my course was very broad and covered a lot of topics including Bulgarian literature, mathematics, foreign languages and natural sciences, however I had chosen to focus on physics in particular.

The diversity of subjects covered in depth at my school made it quite hard to decide what I want to continue studying in university, so I went through many phases of wanting to study things which were incredibly different from each other like theatre and acting, culinary arts, journalism and media, astronomy and physiotherapy. In the end the obvious choice to study linguistics fell from the sky and I’m still amazed at how much time it took me to remember that indeed language has been a puzzle that has intrigued me ever since I can remember myself. After having discovered what it is that I am wholeheartedly interested in, it was very easy selecting a couple of universities to apply to. The University of Leeds has an amazing faculty in the department of Linguistics and this is what struck me immediately. The people who work there are creative, open and very passionate about their work and this is exactly what I was looking for. The University also offers courses in foreign languages, which is very useful for students in linguistics, because it enables us to compare different languages and make some first hand observations on how language works.

I have always been overwhelmed by thoughts about what an incredible thing language is. When you think about it and try to not take it for granted like we always do in our everyday lives, it is in fact an exceptionally complicated system of sounds that exist in the material world that somehow we are able to process and transform into meaning, which exists in the abstract world. Language is a human creation that connects these two worlds we live in and is also in a way what creates our understanding of these two worlds we inhabit. I can honestly not think of a more interesting subject to devote my best years to.

The course here is amazing, it gives the students the ground and basis of the subject and then gives them the freedom to explore it on their own and fit it to their personal interests. I think I like everything on the course and I can’t wait until third year when I will have learnt enough so I could create something on my own and work on it with some of the tutors.

The library is the most amazing place in the University I have discovered so far and the best thing  is that there are three of them. They seem to have almost everything I might want to explore and this does not always have to do with language and I think it is incredible to be given the chance to explore all the things I’ve always wondered about but couldn’t really find anywhere on the web, like moths or the art of Bosch.

Living in Leeds has been a great adventure for me, especially because I came alone and was far away from my family, friends and culture, however I think few places would have made me feel more comfortable than Leeds. There is no time to be homesick when you are here, because there are just so many things to do and to explore – galleries, creative spaces, bars and clubs and above all the amazing people who have created this. I really hate repeating what everyone else has already made clear, but I think I agree that indeed there is something for everyone here.

There are many things to do and to get involved in while in Leeds starting with leisurely activities like baking or the film screenings of the Union Music Library, going through all kinds of sports and ending with volunteer work and active social and political campaigning. I think this is great, because all of them have helped me grow in a way and become who I am now, almost in the end of my first year.

I still don’t know what I am going to do when I graduate. Although I have considered several options like staying in university as a researcher, becoming an editor and creating projects with educational aims of cultural expansion, or maybe even take up investigative journalism, I am sure that in two years’ time these plans will have been changed completely.