Iveta Topalova, originally from Bulgaria, studying a Level 4 Certificate in Administration at the South West College (SWC), Erne campus, shares her experience of moving to Northern Ireland, to study and how she overcome barriers to gain the key skills needed to be successful within education, her career and beyond.

In 2018, Iveta was studying Marketing at a University in Bulgaria, when she decided to relocate to Enniskillen. On arrival, she did not speak English as her first language and hoped to enrich her language skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, to enhance her academic and employability skills, with the hope that one day she will successfully run her own business.

“I decided to study at South West College as they were offering a lot of interesting courses, which offered remarkable opportunities for personal growth.”


At her own pace, and with the support of her Tutors, Iveta successfully completed several part time essential skills courses at the College, including Essential Skills Literacy, Maths, and ICT, as well as GCSE Maths and ICT user skills Level 2. Alongside developing her essential skills, Iveta studied Administration (Business Professional) full time, progressing from Level 2 – 4, which she is currently studying at the Erne campus.

Even though the learning experience was hugely different than Bulgaria, Iveta settled in very quickly and enjoyed the learning process.

She said: “I was apprehensive at first and felt language barriers may hinder my success, but the smaller class sizes and the lecturers made the process much easier and more enjoyable. They offered an abundance of support, guidance, and engagement, which helped me progress and inspired me to achieve my best.

Being surrounded by the culture and the language, enhanced my performance and I enjoyed communicating with my colleagues and tutor as well as completing tasks, in a more modern and practical way.”

Iveta also enjoyed the flexibility of the Administration course, as it allowed her to choose areas of interest that best fitted her needs, helping Iveta address personal and development needs, that she wanted to improve.

“I have grown in confidence both personally and professionally and have gained a more in depth understanding of complex administrative functions and activities, allowing me to progress and achieve my career goals in both business management and professional administration.


“The most significant things that I have learned is how to work more efficiently with Microsoft Office, how to check my work accurately, how to manage my time better, how to develop myself, how to make improved decisions and lots more.

Having recently got promoted to Assistant Manager and with a wealth of qualifications that employers will recognise and treasure. Iveta now feels more confident in her career and has found the course has provided her with the perfect foundation for progressing within education, employment and beyond.

She said: “I would recommend South West College to anybody. It is a wonderful place to learn and grow with amazing teachers, and a wide variety of opportunities for everyone. It has been an incredible experience and I now feel ready to achieve my career goals, thanks to the courses and the support I received at the College. They have enabled me to build a wealth of transferrable skills for life and work, that will never lose their value.”

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