Tell us about yourself

My name is Anastasia Kardasi and I’m 29-years-old. I work in the bakery sector and have experience working as a commis chef in a café/bakery here in Greece, but last year I decided to complete my studies with the BA Culinary Arts (Baking and Patisserie) that Queen Margaret University (QMU) offers.

What attracted you to QMU and the BA Culinary Arts (Baking and Patisserie) degree?

Since I’ve always been interested in working abroad, I knew I needed a degree that would be recognised internationally. The vocational level of study that I already had wasn’t enough. While I was looking for study opportunities, I came across the collaboration that the Metropolitan College [in Greece] has with QMU and I immediately decided to apply.

What has been the highlight of your course?

During this year I realised that, at this level in this industry, it’s important to learn more than just practical culinary skills – how to make pastry, sweets and desserts, etc. [During the course] we were able to look more closely at the wider industry and it was really interesting. I learned how to act and react in business, and I learned about myself as a person.

How have your lecturers supported your learning?

They [the lecturers] all offer visual feedback, and the lessons we were taught were hugely useful for our projects later on in the year. They were very open to discussing the course with us and answering questions, and the materials we were given throughout the year really showed us what we needed to know.

"This University made me feel like my goals were achievable."

What were the main challenges in your studies? What were your successes?

One challenge I had was with my project. For students – like me - from technical or practical backgrounds, it was difficult to get accustomed to the theory side of things. Researching online, working at the library, reading and studying to complete projects like reports or presentations were hard for me in the beginning, but through the guidance I had from my teachers, I learned that I could handle this. I realised I actually had very good organisational skills and I was good at team work and collaborating with other people. While it was a challenge, it was good for me and I’m really happy about the skills I’ve developed through this study.

What advice do you have for students who might be interested in this course?

Don’t take it lightly. If you’re coming from a technical background, you might have difficulty in the beginning getting used to the theoretical aspect of the degree. If you are interested, start reading books and begin getting accustomed to this kind of practice - you will learn a lot, not just for future jobs but as a person.

As a mature student, did you face any challenges in your academic journey before coming to this course?

Many of the students in my class were younger. I was the wise old owl! There was one student who was close to my age and we collaborated really well throughout the year. Even though there was a younger atmosphere, the class was one big team we all worked really well together.

Did you undertake paid/voluntary work outside of the class?

There were some really nice events we took part in. There was an exhibition about new food and new products in the food industry. I entered a product into it an energy bowl made of oats and cinnamon – which was a brand new experience for someone like me. I ended up speaking to someone who delivers raisins and was interested in my product, and I was like, ‘Yes, let’s talk!’. It was amazing to meet people who wanted to collaborate with you. I felt like a manager!

What are your plans for after graduation?

I love Scotland! I travelled there two years ago and I fell in love. I’m really interested in coming to work in Scotland, to live there, maybe in Glasgow. But until then, I’m going to get more practical experience here so when I do go abroad I will be able to show my culinary expertise.

What are the advantages of studying an international degree?

Some of the main advantages are that you have an internationally recognised bachelor’s degree and it’s really important for your CV to have such an important degree. It is actually what I was looking for… to have a degree that would be recognised throughout Europe because I wanted to study abroad, but didn’t have the economic ability to do that, so it was really good for me to be able to study UK-based programme of study.

How connected to QMU did you feel as a student?

This University made me feel like my goals were achievable, it’s close to its students and the community. I didn’t feel intimidated. I felt supported. I believe QMU is about developing a person in every aspect so that they are ready for the workplace.

Have you changed as a result of studying for a QMU degree?

I’m definitely more mature. I feel like I’m ready to open my own business! It gave me confidence to think more in business terms, learning about the importance of labour and good materials. Most importantly, it got us outside [our comfort zones] and I feel like I got accustomed to this way of thinking. I’m ready to go out and do miracles! I was a bit withdrawn before which isn’t good in this industry – you have to communicate well – but I managed to develop all these skills in a year and with the support from teachers and students. I’ve done a really good job of improving myself.

Can you sum up your experience?

I’ve had ups and downs, stress, projects but the amazing overwhelming feeling you get when you hear you’ve succeeded – it means all your labour paid off. It was a journey that I could never had dreamed of when I first started. It was life-changing and changed me for the better.