Over a month ago I was approached by our International Office EU recruiting team to accompany them on the World Education Fairs in Bulgaria.
Education Fairs are held in many countries at certain periods. Representatives from worldwide Universities gather and welcome student applicants to their stall to discuss fees, welfare, courses they're interested in and everything in between.
The fairs would usually start at 10AM and finish at 5PM and you would get half an hour break in between. If you're like me and love to make a change in somebody's life by talking to them why they should come study here- this is the job for you.
Some applicants would come with their parents, which for us meant victory! We get to convince the parents it's nice and warm and harmless and fun to live in Cambridge or Chelmsford.
After having gone before to represent Anglia Ruskin as a student, I knew what I was getting myself into. Don't be fooled that it's all fun. Of course I had a lot of fun talking to all potential students, telling them about the faculties and courses we have. Most of the students in Bulgaria want to become architects or business managers but a lot of them were interested in variety of Arts and social science courses.
Of course I couldn't help but notice the line of people waiting to speak to representatives from Universities in Germany or Holland. As you might know higher education is significantly cheaper in Holland compared to the UK, and in Germany it's free. But if you would go to Germany you'd notice their Universities don't have Students' Union and neither do they have clubs or societies. Meaning that you as a student will be limited to go to your lectures and seminars and go home and study and vice versa. I remember what a friend of mine told me whilst I was running to be Communications Officer in our SU in my first year, "You don't pay £9.000 to go to your lectures, you pay it for your experience as well." And damn right you were, Sarah Haider.
Being in four cities twice within two weeks was rather exhausting. I had to get up early to travel 2-4 hours to the next destination, or we'd travel straight after the fair on some days. But somewhere in between we'd get a day off and enjoy the sun, and the next week the rain.
I really liked working alongside people who have done this for years. I had a long conversation with two of them about life and everything which was truly amazing. Life is all about sharing experiences and learning things from people.
The very negative thoughts I heard from people were about Brexit. "What happens to us now? Can we still take the tuition fees grant? Do British people hate us now?"
All of these questions really made me think of what EU countries might really be thinking of British people.
Fortunately, on the 11th of October we got confirmation from the UK government that Student Finance will continue to be accessible for EU students starting their degree in 2017/18. That cleared up the air a little bit more as I could see the light in some of my other colleague representatives.
The fact is that I wouldn't take back those two weeks no matter what. No matter the fact that I got incredibly ill the first week and that I was barely able to see my family. It was worth it to try and make a change in somebody's life and I would do it again in a heartbeat.