Azerbaijani Shamil Mustafayev on Getting Practical Experience, U.S. Education Closer to Home

August 01, 2012
Azerbaijani Shamil Mustafayev on Getting Practical Experience, U.S. Education Closer to Home

Shamil Mustafayev ’14, from Azerbaijan, chose to study at AUBG because of the university’s location and its generous scholarship program. He knew he would receive an education comparable to what students get at top U.S. institutions, only closer to home.

What he discovered after enrolling at AUBG exceeded his expectations by far. Here, not only will he complete a demanding double degree in Computer Science and Information Systems, but he is also getting hands-on experience in governance, budgeting, event coordination, and people management. Shamil serves as a senator in the Student Government and the SG budgetary committee and is also a member of the Resident Assistants team and the Computer Science Student Union (CSSU).

The extraordinary diversity of the AUBG community was another positive surprise for the second-year student. Working, studying, and living with students from 45 different countries made Shamil not only more open to but also more appreciative of difference. “I learned that not all the people have the same traditions and cultures. I started thinking differently about everything and thinking from their perspectives,” Shamil says.

Shamil has a kind, outgoing personality, and on the RA team he finds a vent for his natural propensity to help and mentor others. Having older RAs show him the ropes in his first few weeks on campus made adjusting to life in a foreign country easy, and he felt like he needed to give back. Helping others is extraordinarily gratifying, he says.

Another aspect of the AUBG experience that he finds beneficial is the small size of classes and opportunities for personal interaction with faculty. In classes with 20 or fewer students professors and classmates always know who you are. Shamil also notes that AUBG professors will spend extra time with students who seek academic advice and direction outside class. Additional tutorials by his Exposition and Persuasion professors helped improve his critical thinking and writing skills last year.

Shamil’s work with the SG and budgetary committee developed other important skills, such as his ability to communicate effectively with others and to think creatively. Over the past year and a half, he was able to overcome his fear of speaking in public. As a result, he felt prepared to participate in a national conference in Azerbaijan where he was able to express his opinions without any difficulty. As a CSSU member, he helped organize workshops and presentations, an invaluable experience that greatly strengthened his organizational and teamwork skills. Moreover, he keeps a healthy body on the AUBG soccer and volleyball teams.

With so much on his plate, Shamil rarely has time to feel homesick. Moreover, Bulgaria’s natural beauty reminds him of his native Azerbaijan so much that he only has to join an AUBG hiking expedition to shorten the distance.