The greatest gift I've ever been given, travel and culture! Past Review

By (Communication Sciences And Disorders, University of Maine at Orono) - abroad from 01/08/2013 to 05/01/2013 with

American University in Bulgaria: Blagoevgrad - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about myself and other cultures. I saw so many different things and interacted with so many different people. I wouldn't change any of it for the world.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes were taught well however I did not always feel the support or push from professors. Professors looked for a lot of in class participation.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Terrible. It was hard to get emails with responses and to find the right department. I am yet to find out my final grades. Lydia Kryse was the most helpful administrator for abroad students and she was wonderful!!!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Typical dorm room. Rooms were dark and it was interesting to see how students did not decorate or really put effort into what their rooms look like which is very opposite to what is done in the U.S.

* Food:

The food started out terrible. I found myself eating out a lot. AUBG recently hired a new head chef Mark Waterhouse and once the new student center opened things changed drastically. Mark is going to bring in new revenue to the dining department at AUBG because he is dedicated to making the dining facility a place students want to come and eat. It is inexpensive and the new sandwich bar was great!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I personally did not have to deal with any healthcare issues (thank goodness) however students were well informed at the beginning what needed to be done if they had to receive health care while at AUBG. Student work study students who spoke Bulgarian were also available to take non native speaking students to outside health care if necessary.

* Safety:

At first Blago does not give off the vibe of feeling like a city you would want to be a lone in. I think that is because it is so different from any place students would see in the United States. After getting adjusted and learning a few key phrases to get around I felt really safe. Its a small city and if you are just aware you will feel safe.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Bulgaria is inexpensive. Eating out is common and it doesnt break the bank. UMaine students who attend on direct exchange are also required to get a meal plan so essentially you wouldnt have to pay anything during the week if you dont want to.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? When I wasnt traveling outside of Bulgaria probably $25-$75 USD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Use your meal plan if you have one! Also take advantage of the local market every Wednesday and Saturday. The residence halls have kitchens so cooking once or twice a week also keeps costs down. If you plan on traveling the bus is a much cheaper way to get to Sofia (the capital) rather than taking a cab. AUBG also offers some trips throughout the semester GO ON THEM! They are inexpensive for what you get to do!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

It was not required to take intro to Bulgarian however I did.I learned the cyrillic alphabet which is super helpful in finding your way around in cities (matching street names) and I think the locals appreciated when we attempted to communicate with them.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Bulgarian 101
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Use the language! Dont be afraid!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • New Friends
  • Trips
  • Different academics
* What could be improved?
  • A check in email from UMaine
  • N/A
  • N/A
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Even if you talk to someone before and hear about their experience yours will be completely different. People who enjoy themselves also tend to only highlight the good things that happened not the differences and things that can be really overwhelming.