Macedonia – Where an unexpected journey to New York started

It was the summer of 2017 and I got this great opportunity from my university in India to join this student exchange program organized by IAESTE, to work as a student intern at the University of Information Science & Technology “St.Apostol Pavle” in Ohrid, Macedonia. I did not have a second thought about it and said yes right away, as I would never want to miss such a big opportunity to visit this beautiful place in Europe and at the same time work, gain experience and meet new people from around the globe.

Walk through Ohrid

I came to Ohrid by mid-august and joined UIST just after 2 days of getting acquainted with the city. I met my mentor Mr. Goran Shibakovski at the university and I feel so lucky that I was assigned to him. We had our first meeting and discussed what I wanted to work with. He gave me full freedom in choosing a topic for work and we finally decided to work on the project called “My Chik-fil-A”. This project was basically a Store Design & Visual Merchandising competition organized by PAVE Global for a well-known USA based fast food chain Chik-fil-A (Est. 1946).

The objective of the design challenge was to create and share ideas for a store design (interior & exterior) and visual merchandises for the store to open up their outlets in today’s college campuses. I had to Involve creative designs and technology together to connect Chik-fil-A to the students in the campus. It was really fun and interesting to work on this project and it helped me go out of my boundaries and gain knowledge at the same time.

Lake Ohrid

Apart from working I also got ample time to spend with other students at the university and the members of IAESTE who were very friendly and welcoming. Made new friends and also traveled around Macedonia on the weekends with them.

I tried different Macedonian food, learned a bit of the Makedonski language as well. At least I can now say “Dobredojdofte Makedonia” and “Kah ko si” almost perfectly.

The project was submitted to the organizing team and on November 7th the results were out. It was unexpected, but I was overwhelmed to know that my design got selected along the top 5 entries among 400+ entries from all over the world! I was invited to attend the PAVA Gala award ceremony in New York City on 6th December, 2017 to receive my Award. I was awarded the “Honorable Mention” title in front of distinguished guests and many senior designers and architects from top companies. This was something which really made me feel honored and motivated. Had work really paid off! The award ceremony was followed by dinner and an after party which was a lot of fun! It was a great opportunity for networking with many senior people of the industry.

Award ceremony in New York

Rest few days in the United States were left for a bit of traveling around and exploring New York city, followed by a short tour to the city of Chicago.

Got to learn, see and experience a lot of new things in these few days.

Finally, returned back to India on the 12th of December.

I am thankful to PAVE for providing such a big platform to young student designers across the globe and all the people who supported me in completing this project and I am forever grateful to Mr.Goran for his immense love and support.

I wish to visit Ohrid sometime very soon. These amazing days will always remain in my heart forever!

Surya Prakash Medhi



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