Yoanna Kirilova,
BMS Phase I Student,
BA Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

My journey with the BMS began in a slightly unusual way as I was already a student in Berlin at Humboldt University. I moved to Germany after I finished high school in Bulgaria and started studying Mathematics here right away. I had become aware of the BMS at some point during my studies, but wasn't sure what additional benefits being a BMS student would bring me, after all I could already attend all the lectures the BMS students could attend. Only as I had almost completed my Bachelor’s degree and a professor asked if I was planning on applying to the BMS did I decide to research the school and what it offered. I quickly learned that the BMS expanded beyond just the courses taught at the universities, and offered additional colloquia, workshops, support systems and organized many events for the students. It seemed like a great place that offered a nourishing environment for its students and allowed them to develop their mathematical interests, so I decided to apply and I am very happy with that decision.

The last semester (SS20) has been rather unusual - because of the pandemic all courses were taught digitally and I was impressed with how well the lectures and seminars I attended were adapted to that. All of my courses took place live in Zoom meetings, the lecturers used a digital white board to share what they were writing, so it was as close to a normal lecture as it could have been. Because of the isolation my productivity and my mental health declined, as was the case with many other students, but the BMS offered a lot of support, information and understanding when inevitably plan and timeline changes occurred.

The academic side of the BMS is amazing, there are a variety of lectures offered and my advisor has helped me choose the most suitable courses to take each semester. The MATH+ Fridays are a great way to get exposed to different topics and also to socialize with the rest of the BMS students. The thing that sets the BMS apart though is the support and guidance it offers its students. Juggling a social life, personal responsibilities and being a student can be difficult and overwhelming. Whenever I’ve had a problem the BMS Office staff has been able to help me or direct me to someone who can. I quickly learned that the BMS offers a support system that helps the students thrive.

There are a variety of events and workshops that are being offered each semester, the student body organizes social events usually once or twice a month, which helped me get to know my fellow BMS students as I missed the German language course and some other social events at the start of my first semester as a Phase I student. The social events vary from movie nights and museum tours to elaborate games and potluck dinners, so they are really fun and don’t get repetitive! My overall experience has been really positive, which is part of the reason I signed up for the buddy program as a buddy. I wanted to use some of my time to help new students settle in Berlin, answer questions about the university and about life in Berlin and through this program I’ve made some great friends. All in all as a student here there are ample opportunities to socialize and explore the city. I am also a Student Representative, which has been a very interesting and fun experience. I really enjoy organizing events and working to continue BMS traditions.

As a BMS student I have had many opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise and on top of that I’ve gotten to know some amazing people and had the opportunity to develop both my mathematical interests and personal strengths.