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50 stories - Prof. Natalia Nikolova

10 August 2022 Events and Discussions

Professor in Decision Sciences, Australian Maritime College, University of Tasmania

A leap of faith

“The first thing you think is, you are in England. The next thing you know is it’s nothing like England!” Rather handy advice … if you know England, that is! It is how Australia was described to me for the first time, by a British-Indian-Canadian-Australian (i.e. my boss at the time).

The “Down Under” is indeed … very far away from the world I knew in Europe. If someone comes to you and says, “You are heading to a Professorial career in Australia”, it sounds much like “You are heading to Mars on a mission”! And the mission began several years ago. You only take a leap of faith like that once in a lifetime. No matter how well you plan, you jump into the unknown, hoping for the best … and preparing for the worst. Do trust me, “worst” comes too, even in the best of countries.

For me, it was not simply Aussie, but Tasmania – the “jewel in the crown” (most Aussies might not agree, though), a place known mostly as … the home of the Tasmanian devil (this tiny cute little furry thing that can bite your arm off, but it won’t as it is a scavenger). Well, folks … there are people here, too, unaware that most Earthlings did not know they existed! The place is rather diverse, in fact. I was lucky to meet people from all cultural backgrounds here – Greek, Chinese, Sri Lankan, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Canadian, Italian, Swedish, British, German, French, Saudi, Emirati, Lebanese, Kiwi, South African, Libyan, Iranian, Colombian, Nepalese, Indian, etc.! It is just how things are around me, perhaps a choice, perhaps a destiny. 

For better or for worse, Australia is far away from everything. Perhaps a “better” part is the lack of centuries of historical “burden” we take as part of life in Europe. Another “better” is being able to take long-haul flights to travel anywhere at all – excellent news for a flight-freak like me, who flew over the Atlantic at the age of five and fell in love with air transport! The “worse” part became particularly evident during the pandemic. Being thousands of miles away from family and friends takes its toll. And life continues back in Bulgaria, whether you are there or not … and it also ends whether you are there or not. Sadly, I learned both.  

And while it is all very different, one thing does stay the same – human nature. My most sincere advice to anyone taking their leap of faith today is not to forget this cynical fact – human nature will always be there, with you, around you, within you, grinning at you.

For while you take your leap of faith, you understand the most fundamental thing you will always miss – the land and culture you came from, the one that taught you a great sense of humour, good wisdom, perseverance, and the will to endure and win. It is Bulgaria.



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