Although very exciting, the beginning of the year can be tiring and overwhelming, so many new things to learn, so many people to meet, so many stories to tell. That’s why we decided to pick some stories and share them with you, in the hope that you will find inspiration and maybe even some ice breakers for conversation.
In our first review we chose to interview an alumni from the law department and an IRD student. Diversity is one of the key aspects that make the College such an attractive institution, therefore encouraging interdisciplinary connections. A big part of the College is experience is the ‘networking’ aspect, and for some of us this has already started, even though we are barely a few weeks into the semester.
The alumni profile – Viktoria Tsvetanova is an alumni from the Falcone & Borsellino promotion (2014/2015), and has graduated with an LLM in EU Law. Having followed the good old law path, she is now working for Hogan Lovells in Brussels, and to be more precise she is working in the Competition law department.
All work but not fun?!?!That is not the case. Viktoria is a professional badminton player and she managed to maintain this passion all throughout her studies in Bruges, even though she had to travel a lot for team matches. She now plays for a French Badminton Team in the first league and she still travels once a month for team matches, which is an impressive commitment for a young aspiring lawyer.
When asked about her experience at the College her answer started with a simple word: ‘UNIQUE. You hear about the ‘spirit of Bruges’ but you don’t understand it until you’ve experienced it. You’ll get it in a few months.’
Of course we wanted to know more about the fun parts in Bruges as well so we asked her to tell us a funny story, and the answer did not really come as a shock because it is weather related, yes the wonderful Belgian weather. She remembers ‘going to Knokke after an exam to enjoy the 30°C, which lasted for a good two hours, before being hit by the Belgian weather. Hit. Literarily. By hailstones.’ Not that funny in reality, but it is definitely an attitude we should also adopt, otherwise it is going to be a very long year.
Last but not least we asked for a work of advice for all of us ‘freshies’, and this is her answer: ‘The College is primarily about the connections you make. So, when you’re wondering whether to go to the bar on a Thursday night or stay home- use this as your justification to choose the former.’
Student profile – Inês Alpande Loureiro is an IRD student, with a very interesting life story. Don’t be deceived by her wonderful Portuguese suntan and family background, she was actually born and bred in Brussels and speaks perfect French. After graduating high school in Brussels, she moved to Lisbon, Portugal, for her university studies. She has a Bachelor degree in Law, from the Portuguese Catholic University, as well as an LL.M. degree in EU and International law from Católica Global School of Law. After having graduated from my Master’s degree, she completed an extra semester abroad at Maastricht University, in the Netherlands, to deepen her knowledge in Public International law.
When asked about what she wanted to achieve this year, she gave a very interesting answer:’ First and foremost, as any other student at the College, I wish to achieve the academic objectives I have set out for myself. As a student with a legal background, I also wish to be able to engage in a new and different type of reasoning, due to the programme, as well as learning new content. I also wish to learn a new language, Arabic, and by the end of the year to at least be able to greet people and order some food. Finally, I sincerely hope to further improve my Curriculum and to take advantage of all the networking tools the College provides’. Since we have a few students with an Arab background maybe this could be the beginning of a new tandem Arabic-Portuguese?
As a future diplomat, she managed to give a very good answer and avoid an actual answer, when asked about her career goals: ‘I don’t have a concrete career goal yet. As time goes by I feel the scope of career possibilities and interests is actually expanding. However, I wish to pursue a career which allows me to combine both my legal and future political expertise, in the area of the EU’s external relations.’
But life is not just about work work work, the journey and the funny stories that come with it count more than anything else. When she lived in Portugal she was always mistaken by a ‘foreigner’. ’Countless times I’ve been asked whether I was either Norwegian, Swedish, British, American, or Australian, and the list goes on. Even in Portugal, natives have spoken to me in English. As such, I should be everything but Portuguese’. Being a foreigner in your own country, I wonder how that feels?!?!!
And just in case you were wondering, if not, we will tell you anyway: She is a bathroom singer. ‘I absolutely am a bathroom singer, my playlist includes Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Drake, Kanye West, Jay-Z, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, my singing career will never go further than my bathroom.’ It may be no coincidence that our patron is Chopin this year.
Her message to you: ‘I sincerely hope this year at the College exceeds all your expectations and may the connections you’ll establish last a lifetime.’
PS: Rumour has that a lot of people associate her with Donna from Suits’. Is she our Donna? Time will tell….but will there be a Harvey at the College as well?
You could be next one featuring, if you want to tell your story, just contact me at email@example.com , and let’s have a chat.
Good look everyone!!!!!