Exchange Program at American University in Bulgaria Past Review

By (English - Liberal Arts, University of Northern Colorado) for

ISEP Exchange: Blagoevgrad - Exchange Program at American University in Bulgaria

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My study abroad experience was so worthwhile. It was absolutely without a doubt the best experience of my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I learned so much about myself, about other people, about another culture, getting by when you don't know a language, a culture, or expectations. I learned how to travel better, how to get along with new and different people, how to live with another person, how to socialize better.

Review Photos

ISEP: Blagoevgrad - American University Bulgaria Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I found that the academic requirements and expectations were much lower at AUBG than at my home institution. I could have grown more from a slightly heavier and certainly more intellectually challenging workload. However, since this was during a study abroad experience, it was welcomed by me to have a lighter workload and more time to experience the country and culture.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My host country program administration was not particularly organized or helpful, but thanks to the student body I was able to really feel welcomed at my host university. The student government held a ton of events that took place on and off campus that really integrated all of the student body together.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The only thing keeping me from giving my living arrangements a 5 was that the laundry ladies and shop ladies didn't speak English, the dorm was really old, which I loved for giving it character, but I have a feeling it made all of my friends and I sick (we were all sick much of the semester with an awful cough and sore throat), and though my particular room was nice, most of my friends couldn't boast the same compliment. I felt completely safe in the dorms, especially needing a key card to get into the lobby even, and the proximity to classes and nightlife couldn't have been any better. The town was small enough that I could walk to classes and clubs easily.

* Food:

Food in Bulgaria was amazing!! The quality of food in the restaurants in Blagoevgrad is wonderful and the quantity is enormous for the minimal price. Great places to eat are Nicki's, which is right off campus, Paparrazi, the mehanas, which house traditional Bulgarian food, Napoli and the Old Dublin. Other places that are okay are the cafeteria in the main building. Also make sure you check out the ice cream stands on the street if you're there during the warm weather season, especially the soft serve that is tucked into a little corner of the main road, and go to the bakery next to the liquor store that is right past the bridge just off campus! Just be careful with how much you eat because the food is wonderful, especially the Bulgarian banitza, but you are going to gain weight, so just be prepared!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Every cultural experience was memorable, but to list a few, the mehanas were awesome, going to the the smallest Bulgarian town Melnik with a group of friends was one of the best days ever, experiencing Bulgarian style clubbing was so much fun, even checking out the chalgas, and seeing the rest of the Bulgarian countryside and especially the sea side in Varna were phenomenal.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt really safe given the circumstances of being a female in a country where I didn't speak the language. It was helpful that the city the school is located in is very small, but there were definitely times when I felt a little uneasy. I wouldn't want to walk anywhere alone after dark and having a male companion definitely made me feel safer. Health issues were covered by the insurance I had to purchase through ISEP, so I was able to get medicine from AUBG's doctor pretty easily.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

My language skills in my host language went from almost non-existent to usable in a pinch. I definitely wasn't an expert in Bulgarian when I left, but I learned so much through not only my Intro to Bulgarian class, but also through Bulgarian friends, other Russian-speaking friends who were familiar with the cyrillic alphabet, and through culturally immersing myself. I couldn't have gotten by in town without being able to speak and read a little Bulgarian or without my extremely patient and helpful Bulgarian friends.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Just go for it! Going to Bulgaria was the best decision I ever made. Travel, talk to tons of people, definitely take Intro to Bulgaria, try all the food, go out and meet your fellow students, and just enjoy!!