It takes a considerable amount of courage to leave a well-known business environment and start all over in a new line of work. And if one is to also change geographical locations in the same process, strong will and a capacity to adapt are almost mandatory.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – William Greenough Thayer Shedd
And so it began for Zulfiya who switched her life inside the familiar environment of her hometown Kazan, the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan where she was working in the energy sector, for fashion design studies in Prague, Czech Republic.
Away from home. In a new country.
In a completely different line of work.
“I decided to follow my instinct and see where it takes me.”
Three years later and now almost done with her Bachelor studies, she stands in a category of her own among the rest of her class. During her exchange year in Porto, her drawings monopolized the walls of the final exhibition and her professors gave her grades on designs she never saw again. They just liked them that much.
“I took it as a compliment.”
Since some of her exams are viva voce, Zulfiya learned Czech while following her education in design. She is now fluent and appreciates conducting long conversations in the West Slavic language. A true chameleon.
“My objective is to go to Paris now.
This is where fashion is beating at its strongest and I want to immerse myself in that environment. Paris keeps attracting me.”
I met Zulfiya back when she was in Porto doing her exchange. Soaked up with Portuguese sun. A woman with a scintillating wit. Driven. Making what she does look easy. Talent plays a part in that. The rest is discipline and abnegation.
Living and studying/working in different countries, surrounded by the sounds of new languages and cultures, either opens the mind to new possibilities or breeds a kind of nostalgia for how things are “back home”. It’s different from travelling. Some people fully embrace that experience while others go through it with mixed feelings.
She blooms in it.
As we walk through the streets of Prague on our way to the Municipal House, a magnificent Art Nouveau building, Zulfiya wears a big bright smile. The smile of a woman who took her destiny in her own hands, fully knowing that it wouldn’t be easy but that it was worth it. Fashion can be a brutal world, she’s aware of it. Internships come with a ridiculously low pay and employer expectations are high. Competition is fierce.
She remains unimpressed.
She is going for it.
No doubt about that.