Exhilarating Past Review

By (University of Maine - Orono) - abroad from 01/18/2016 to 05/13/2016 with

American University in Bulgaria: Blagoevgrad - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was so worthwhile. I traveled a lot, befriended and met people not just from Bulgaria but from countries all over Europe, learned to live somewhere that wasn't English speaking and learned to get around that barrier, learned about traveling on my own and planning travel, learned some of a new langauge. It was amazing!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I found the classes to be much easier than my home university, but I still learned a lot so the academics were still great.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration is different in Bulgaria as is the work ethic, but I really didn't have problems with administration. Sometimes you just have to check if they are going to be there.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a dorm, which was good and bad. I think for a small school it was good to meet everyone and be right on campus. I wasn't used to going back to dorm life as an upperclassman but it was fine! I met a lot of people that way. Just had some initial issues with being placed in a triple instead of a double. Also be careful if you live on the first floor. Don't leave your windows open a lot.

* Food:

The canteen food was very repetitive and not very good. I had to eat similar things everyday especially because of my eating restriction but they did have an allergen key which was helpful. I did eat out a lot. The dining hall food is primarily Bulgarian cuisine. As an exchange student you have a lot of campus cash to spend at the cafes on junk food too.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I actually felt pretty separate from the town because the university is its own little thing, but the town is a college town and loves AUBG students! The people really don't speak much English which could be why I felt a little bit separated, but I always went out and experienced the nightlife and local cuisine and restaurants, and did things that the town and country had to offer. I overall felt pretty integrated by the end.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

It was readily accessible. There is an on campus health clinic. I had to go to an eye doctor, so they had an English-speaking person with the health clinic that went with me for the language barrier. They gave me a medication that was subscribed to a pharmacy, so it was pretty straightforward. However, I had bought insurance through my home school's recommendation, but also had some form of it through AUBG, which they wanted me to use instead, and had Bulgarian on the student health card. So I didn't really get to use my other insurance but I was required to have it anyway.

* Safety:

I never had any safety problems, but beware of crime. It is definitely different, and just be careful of theft is all that I would warn against, as well as taxi fare ripping you off.

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)

So easy! Bulgaria is sooo cheap compared to the US. Seriously, if you are looking for a cheap cheap study abroad location this is the one. My room and board and everything cost less than the US and you can get a nice dinner here for like 10 bucks.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 25-$30 in US money. So cheap!
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Definitely budget, because although it is cheaper and you are saving money, this can make you spend more. I spent a lot on going out to eat and drink and travel, though it was cheap in Eastern Europe as a whole. At the beginning of the semester or year budget or plan most of your bigger trips that require plane tickets so you know how much you are spending.


* 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

I had to learn a little Bulgarian outside of my school, but it's not a requirement. The school is English speaking, the country is not.

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? None
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? Definitely practice Bulgarian to employees at the canteen and cafes, and to those off campus at stores and restaurants. Otherwise everyone speaks English. Or befriend Bulgarian/Macedonian/Serbian students to help you and practice with them or your Bulgarian instructor, Bulgarian class classmates

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • Travel opportunities for cheap
  • Non-English speaking
  • American University in non-english speaking country
* What could be improved?
  • Canteen
  • roommate-matching
  • theft prevention and knowledge
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known about how small the school really was, and I would have liked a little more knowledge on the Bulgarian culture differences in work ethic, pace of life, administration, etc. Other than that it was awesome.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Design and Layout

Course Department: JMC
Instructor: Dinka Spirovska
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Challenging but really great course! I learned so much, including the use of Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. Really useful and fun. Made a brochure, self portrait, calendar, magazine cover, book jacket
Credit Transfer Issues: no
Course Name/Rating:

Intro to Bulgarian Language I

Course Department: MLL Modern Languages
Instructor: Sabina Wien
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Great instructor! Challenging because the language is challenging, but it was helpful and I learned to read the Cyrillic alphabet so something worked! Would recommend that every exchange student take this
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Public Relations

Course Department: JMC
Instructor: Alexander Dourchev
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Very helpful! Useful for real life skills. Instructor is a PR professional in Sofia and very famous in Bulgaria. He has won Cannes Lions awards. We did weekly group project presentations and created our own PR companies. The final project was a presentation of PR strategies to a real life PR company in Bulgaria.
Credit Transfer Issues: No