By Nikola Gyurchev (Bulgaria); Class of 2015 – Biotechnology
Each of our four residential colleges on campus have unique events that they host throughout the year. Mercator College, named in honour of Stiftung Mercator GmbH, has played host to CIDs since May, 2003. CIDs help to promote a cultural and international understanding among the students. This academic year, CIDs have been showcased by the Chinese and Bulgarian communities on campus. The students presented their cultures through dance, food and language lessons to mention but a few.
Bulgaria, an eastern European country and home to 20 of our undergrads, borders with the Black Sea, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. It has a population between 7 and 8 million people and its capital is Sofia. China on the other hand composes a 7th of the world’s population and is represented by 46 undergrads on campus.
The atmosphere on both occasions was filled with excitement and enthusiasm. As Bulgaria prides itself in being the land of roses the Mercator common room was decorated with roses for this special event. The most exciting part for both CIDs was being served traditional Bulgarian and Chinese food.
On the day of the Bulgarian CID we had a Bulgarian dish for lunch: мусака (moussaka) made from potatoes, minced meat and eggs and after the main CID event баница (banitsa) a typical Bulgarian dish was served to the audience. The banitsa is a pastry dish with white cheese and eggs. On New Year’s Eve the banitsa, just like the famous Chinese fortune cookies, contains fortunes written on a piece of paper and the banitsa is taken right after midnight. For the Chinese CID the Chinese students served a special Chinese cake, shrimp crackers and siomai; a pork dumpling that is steamed and served with sauce.
Something interesting I learnt about Bulgaria is that the Bulgarians shake their heads when agreeing with something and nod their heads when disagreeing. Bulgarians also celebrate name days throughout the year. For the Chinese CID there was a special presentation on Chinese culture, language and politics. There is a Mandarin Society on campus which teaches students Mandarin Chinese to interested students.
I find it really interesting, learning about the different cultures and student backgrounds. It is one of the unique aspects and privileges of studying in a multi-cultural environment. I sure have learnt a great deal about different countries that I would not have learnt from media or text books.