For Kiril Kolarov (’24) AUBG Is the Friends He Made Along the Way

May 16, 2024 Martin Georgiev
For Kiril Kolarov (’24) AUBG Is the Friends He Made Along the Way

Photo by Martin Milevski for the Class of 2024 Yearbook.

In 2023 I started my series of Exit Interviews – talks with graduating seniors whom I had interviewed as part of their AUBG application process. Through various circumstances, many of them I had ended up working with, partying with, seeing them grow through their time at the university. Why not share that journey with the world.

I met Kiril Kolarov in the before times, back in February of 2020 at the Elieff Center in Sofia. I don’t remember that first interview but he reminded me one evening at our local pub quiz where we compete together in a small team, a mix of students and alumni, inaptly called The Brain Cells. As we often ranked low against veterans who knew the names of Italian football players popular in the 90s or where exactly a derelict Bulgarian monastery is located, we joked that the score doesn’t matter. The quiz is actually the friends we made along the way. A sentence, it turns out, that summarizes Kiril’s AUBG experience pretty well. 

Hello and welcome to your exit interview.

Hello. Am I supposed to say something now?

When I ask you a question. I hope you’re much more relaxed now than you were back then. Just like last time, tell me about yourself. Who is Kiril?

Who’s Kiril? Damn, that’s a tough question. I’d love to think Kiril is a cool-ass dude. A friendly person. A funny person who makes other people laugh. I’d like to think that I’m ambitious, that I’m intelligent and that there are great things in store for me.

What was your time at AUBG like?

I had many ups and downs. Mainly downs [laughs]. I’m joking. Because of senior life, I’ve been thinking every day about my AUBG experience. And I’ve been thinking, as time passes, the bad memories fade away. And now when you ask me that question, how was my experience, the only thing I can think about is the good things. And I’m kind of happy about it because I’ve had some bad memories, but currently the thing that comes to my head is the people I’ve met. And it makes me very sad actually. That I met some people that I would like to see every day for the rest of my life. And the thought that in a week some of them I’ll probably never see again in my life is sickening. Actually sickening. But generally, I think AUBG made me grow as a person. If I recall the version of me that I was four years ago, I think that AUBG was a great decision because I’m a lot happier with the person I am right now.

What were you like four years ago?

Reckless, maybe. And I get that I was younger then, but I was not ambitious, I was not looking forward to studying, to actually doing something with my life career-wise. The only thing important for me back then was having fun, being out with friends. And I’m not saying that’s not important for me still. But, like, I can do laundry now. And some grown up shit. That’s the thing.

Is there anything you can pinpoint that changed you from that? A moment or a span of time where you changed from that reckless, not ambitious person to the more serious person you claim to be now.

I think it was a gradual process, but there was this one moment that stood out to me. In freshman year, second semester, I got my first C for the entire course. And I felt so bad about it. The first semester I was just not doing that much studying but still passed with good grades. But after the second semester and I got the C, [I thought], “I’m giving some serious money to be here and many, many people want to be in my position and cannot and now I’m here wasting potential, money and time doing nothing.” And this was kind of a reality check for me.

I’m not saying from this particular moment I became Albert Einstein. But from this moment, I started putting a lot more effort into it and I started liking it. I mean, when you spend 10 hours on a project and you get an A, you feel like you’re on top of the world. And this feeling is kind of addicting.

What did you study here?

I studied Business [Administration] and [Journalism and Mass Communication]. I used to take Computer Science instead of JMC but after three courses I said, in the most polite way possible, “That’s not for me.” After many tears rolled down my face, I figured that I should change that thing. It’s just a lot of work, and I’m all up for working, but it didn’t make me happy. So, I decided to take JMC and that was definitely the best decision I’ve made.


I don’t really believe in cliques, you know, separation between people, but definitely the people that I met in the JMC department are more of my people. Some of the closest people I met were people I met during my JMC studies.

And what is it that you want to continue doing now after graduation?

Rough question. I know for a fact that I’m sticking with the business side of my education. I come from a traditional family. I’m not saying I have traditional views, but at the same time I’ve been taught my entire life that you should provide security, stability. And this kind of got in my head. Despite my life views and opinions, I still kind of believe that. And I think I found something in the business major which I actually like and I’m willing to do.

But thinking that I should commit to this thing for the rest of my life is kind of a scary thought. We’ll see how it goes. I’m not marrying the idea but I’m marrying the master’s which I’m going to in three months.

During these four years, one thing that changed in my head is that I realized we have time. Your decisions right now matter, but even if I take master’s in something that turns out to not be my thing, it’s never too late to change. So, at this point I’m kind of tired of worrying and I will just see where life takes me.

Back in 2020, you said that the biggest challenge you expected at AUBG was being on your own. Was that really it?

No, because I was never alone. I was expecting to be alone at some points, but I was actually never alone. When I was back in Skapto, there was always a roommate next to me. And I was blessed to know people that are going to AUBG before coming to AUBG. I wasn’t the social butterfly I am right now. I was a shy person. Whenever I met somebody, it would take me some time to open up. Now it’s not like that but back then, if I didn’t have the safety belt of the people I knew before coming here, I would have drowned probably. Well, I cannot say that, we can never know what would have happened. But I’ve always had some of my closest people around me every day and I’ve never actually felt alone here, even for a moment.

What was it that made you the social butterfly that you are now?

Back then, I was afraid of people. That sounds kind of lame, but what I mean by that is I was feeling like I cannot trust people. And after that I met some people who proved me otherwise. And as I met people who are very cool and very good people generally, that made me open up being like, “OK, there’s nothing to be afraid.” You just have to be cautious but not afraid. And then I figured I actually like it. I like talking to people a lot, spending time around funny people and doing fun stuff. It was just like a trial-and-error type thing which worked out for me.

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Kiril in his early days at AUBG.

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Celebrating Radio AURA's birthday.

And if being on your own wasn’t your actual biggest challenge, what was it?

I can’t decide between two things. Maybe a big challenge for me is that I’m from Sofia and at some point, I felt like I don’t belong neither here, nor in Sofia. I used to go home every weekend, and if I didn’t have classes on Friday, I used to go home on Friday. Spending three days in Sofia, four days in Blago. And I felt like nobody in both places. As soon as I reach one of the two destinations, I spent five minutes and, bam, it’s time to go back to the other place.

And I was seeing some changes happening in my home made me feel like it’s changing without me. So, these people are moving forward and I’m moving forward but the space I knew before is moving without me and that that was scary for some time. But then I got accustomed to it. That’s life, I guess. Because before going to university, nothing changes. I mean you’re with your parents, you go to school every day and life is kind of the same. And when you go to university, it is very not dramatic but …

It feels more sudden.

It feels sudden and more things happen at the same time. At least that’s how I feel about it. Life becomes unpredictable out of nowhere. And that was a challenge for me. But you live like that, with fear and anxiety, for one year and after that you’re like, OK, I see I can deal with the unpredictability.

What was the other thing?

Time management. I kind of suck at time management. But that also passed with time.

And if I think about it, right now, I don’t think I’ve faced a real-real challenge that at some point made me rethink the AUBG thing and be like, OK, I will drop out or something.

And what do you think will be your biggest challenge after?

AUBG raised the bar way too high and I’m afraid that I’m not going to find such fun anywhere else. Because when you see all the banners which say “diversity” and stuff, you’re like “Oh, that’s cringe.” But now at the end of the journey, I realized that everybody’s doing their own thing – everybody has a different major, everybody’s in a different club and it’s hard to find the same exact person twice. Everybody has something unique to say and that makes it fun. Meeting people is the great thing you can do in AUBG and I’m afraid that going to any other university, it’s not going to be like that.

What would you say was the best thing that you got out of this place?

I’m sorry for repeating myself, but people. The amounts of nights I’ve spent not sleeping but actually talking with people till the sun comes up … and those nights were many, many, many, many nights. On top of that, every single person has changed me, you know. People leave marks on me and the amount of people who have left a mark on me is crazy.

What are some of those marks?

Can I name-drop? One of the people I love dearly is [Georgian senior] Niko Kochelidze. He taught me hospitality. He taught me what it is to actually care about people. And he taught me kindness. Some people taught me what is actually a struggle. At some points I’ve been like, “Oh, I have so much things to do. I’m struggling so much, I’m about to drown and shit.” And then I talk with people who actually have some stories to tell, hard-hitting stories. And through them I have a better picture of the world. And it made me more chill when it comes to that. I’m a white boy with some privileges in life, going to a good university with good opportunities after this university. So, there is nothing to stress about. Everything is under control.

And some people have taught me work ethic. My work ethic sucked when I came here and then I met people who are actually ambitious and they made me ambitious. I think that’s maybe the most valuable trait that I got. Now I strive to become a better person and that’s what I got from people in AUBG.

Back then, just as now, my final question was, “If you had to describe AUBG with only one word, what would you say?” Do you remember what you said in 2020?

No, no idea.

It was “innovative.” How would you describe AUBG now?

Definitely not innovative [laughs]. OK, I’ll try again. It is innovative, but innovative is not the word I’m looking for right now.

I think I’d say I’d say “creative.” At least that’s the thing I value the most in this university. I know people from here, from Sofia, from many places, and maybe the most creative people are the ones that I know here. People with actual ideas, ambitions. You just open up the student Compass and see the cool events that people are making. Like, some guy decided to make a movie, made the movie and is screening the movie. And it’s one of the great movies I’ve ever seen in my life.

People do things and it’s inspiring and it’s contagious. And I’ve gotten many creative ideas from people around, from witnessing their life and what they’re doing. So yeah, I think creative is the word I’m looking for.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.