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Architect George Taran, 30, from Sofia, Bulgaria, is a 1999 graduate of TU Delft.I left Bulgaria when I was 17-years-old and enrolled at TU Delft as an undergraduate after two years of Dutch high school.

After 5 years residence in Holland I was granted a Dutch passport, which was fortunate, because returning to Bulgaria after graduation wasn%t really an option, since by law I was obliged to serve in the Bulgarian army and there was no way I was going to do that! After graduation and a short holiday in San Francisco, I took my first job with a small project developer in Delft. The salary was lousy, about 800 euros net a month, working three days a week. How lousy was that? Well, as a TU undergraduate I worked as student assistant and earned 350 euros a month, working one day per week! But okay, architecture is poorly paid. The maximum starting salary for beginning architects is the lowest starting salary for any other engineering discipline. Fortunately, I supplemented my income by teaching first- and second-year TU students. I had a 6-month contract on my first job, and after 6 months, I decided to travel Down Under, to Australia. I'd long been fascinated by that country, its vast empty spaces and wildlife, especially the parrots, a long time obsession. After so many years living in small, crowded Holland, I flew to Sydney, bought a beat-up old Ford, threw my backpack in the trunk and took off, travelling to Melbourne, Adelaide, up to the tropical Northern Territory and on to Perth. After 6 months in Australia, I returned to Holland and got my old jobs back at the project developers and the TU. But after 9 months I quit and returned to Australia. At the time, 2000-01, architecture jobs were plentiful, so quitting wasn't a problem. "No worries, mate", as the Australians say, you could always find work as an architect, which certainly isn%t as easy today. Having spent another two months in Australia, I returned to Holland, worked for the TU and architecture agency OD205 for 5 months, quit, and returned to Australia again. But on this trip Down Under, I decided to try to work there. I went to Melbourne University's architecture faculty, found some jobs advertised on the faculty bulletin board, applied and, although I only had a 3-month work permit, was hired by a large architecture agency that was developing Melbourne%s Dockland area. Basically, I was hired as a 'copy-machine monkey', but being the only person in the office with a master's degree in architecture, I figured I%d move up fast. Within a week I had my own workstation and was drafting and designing. It was a great experience. The work culture in Australia is very different from Holland. It's much more hierarchal. The boss is the boss, what he or she says goes. There's none of this Dutch poldermodel stuff, with everyone having their say, expressing their opinions, compromising. But it can be real hard. I once heard a director say to another colleague, ''Are you coming to your party next week?'' Surprised, the guy replied, ''What party?''... ''Your going away party.'' Apparently, the guy had made the boss look stupid in a meeting and was fired for it, just like that.After 6 months living in Australia, I returned to Holland and in June 2002 was hired by Mecanoo, where I'm still working today. It's quite a prestigious agency to work for, also very famous abroad. Like all architecture agencies, the pay's not great, but there are other things that make up for it and keep employees happy, like interesting jobs, dinners, sailing weekends...it's a fun place to work. For the past 4 years I've worked mostly as a technician, less as a designer, which was a conscious choice % now I know much better how to deal with builders, know their job, the possibilities of building technology in general. One of the advantages of small, crowded Holland is the sophisticated building industry--there's a lot to learn here, some of it cutting edge on a global level. As for the future % I'll keep working in architecture, hopefully designing interesting buildings and ultimately be in charge of good projects. Who knows, maybe there will be a project in Bulgaria one day? But for now, life after Delft is still pretty much in Delft, although thanks to my travels, my world is much bigger now.

Architect George Taran, 30, from Sofia, Bulgaria, is a 1999 graduate of TU Delft.I left Bulgaria when I was 17-years-old and enrolled at TU Delft as an undergraduate after two years of Dutch high school. After 5 years residence in Holland I was granted a Dutch passport, which was fortunate, because returning to Bulgaria after graduation wasn%t really an option, since by law I was obliged to serve in the Bulgarian army and there was no way I was going to do that! After graduation and a short holiday in San Francisco, I took my first job with a small project developer in Delft. The salary was lousy, about 800 euros net a month, working three days a week. How lousy was that? Well, as a TU undergraduate I worked as student assistant and earned 350 euros a month, working one day per week! But okay, architecture is poorly paid. The maximum starting salary for beginning architects is the lowest starting salary for any other engineering discipline. Fortunately, I supplemented my income by teaching first- and second-year TU students. I had a 6-month contract on my first job, and after 6 months, I decided to travel Down Under, to Australia. I'd long been fascinated by that country, its vast empty spaces and wildlife, especially the parrots, a long time obsession. After so many years living in small, crowded Holland, I flew to Sydney, bought a beat-up old Ford, threw my backpack in the trunk and took off, travelling to Melbourne, Adelaide, up to the tropical Northern Territory and on to Perth. After 6 months in Australia, I returned to Holland and got my old jobs back at the project developers and the TU. But after 9 months I quit and returned to Australia. At the time, 2000-01, architecture jobs were plentiful, so quitting wasn't a problem. "No worries, mate", as the Australians say, you could always find work as an architect, which certainly isn%t as easy today. Having spent another two months in Australia, I returned to Holland, worked for the TU and architecture agency OD205 for 5 months, quit, and returned to Australia again. But on this trip Down Under, I decided to try to work there. I went to Melbourne University's architecture faculty, found some jobs advertised on the faculty bulletin board, applied and, although I only had a 3-month work permit, was hired by a large architecture agency that was developing Melbourne%s Dockland area. Basically, I was hired as a 'copy-machine monkey', but being the only person in the office with a master's degree in architecture, I figured I%d move up fast. Within a week I had my own workstation and was drafting and designing. It was a great experience. The work culture in Australia is very different from Holland. It's much more hierarchal. The boss is the boss, what he or she says goes. There's none of this Dutch poldermodel stuff, with everyone having their say, expressing their opinions, compromising. But it can be real hard. I once heard a director say to another colleague, ''Are you coming to your party next week?'' Surprised, the guy replied, ''What party?''... ''Your going away party.'' Apparently, the guy had made the boss look stupid in a meeting and was fired for it, just like that.After 6 months living in Australia, I returned to Holland and in June 2002 was hired by Mecanoo, where I'm still working today. It's quite a prestigious agency to work for, also very famous abroad. Like all architecture agencies, the pay's not great, but there are other things that make up for it and keep employees happy, like interesting jobs, dinners, sailing weekends...it's a fun place to work. For the past 4 years I've worked mostly as a technician, less as a designer, which was a conscious choice % now I know much better how to deal with builders, know their job, the possibilities of building technology in general. One of the advantages of small, crowded Holland is the sophisticated building industry--there's a lot to learn here, some of it cutting edge on a global level. As for the future % I'll keep working in architecture, hopefully designing interesting buildings and ultimately be in charge of good projects. Who knows, maybe there will be a project in Bulgaria one day? But for now, life after Delft is still pretty much in Delft, although thanks to my travels, my world is much bigger now.

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