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Study Abroad Adventures in Bulgaria

April 24, 2018

Arriving to Bulgaria

The main building at my University, AUBG, in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria was formerly the Soviet Headquarters of the city.
The main building at my University, AUBG, in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria was formerly the Soviet Headquarters of the city.

The first day I arrived in Bulgaria was one of the most emotional days of my life. I was moving to a country that I didn’t know much about. I didn’t speak a single word of the language, I didn’t know a soul in the entire country and I could barely even point it out on a map. I was tired from traveling and experiencing extreme culture shock.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I called my mom in the middle of the night, begging her to buy me a ticket home tomorrow. I was certain that I did NOT belong here and I’d made a terrible mistake.

But the thing about studying abroad is no one knows you. You can be anyone you want to be and no one will know any different. So I pretended that I was an outgoing person because I knew I needed to make friends. And it worked! They believed I was outgoing, even though I have never been an extroverted person before. After about a week, I was more comfortable in my surroundings and was meeting people who I get along with really well.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria

Friends All Over the World

For me, making friends was the best way to help my culture shock. Befriending Americans helped me because we could relate and discuss the differences between Bulgaria and our homes. Befriending other exchange students from all over the world was even better.

We are all living away from home and starting again. Exchange students are more likely to want to travel and go on excursions. We have a common interest in seeing new things, things locals are used to seeing. Befriending locals is important too; they can help show you around, share their culture with you and even translate for you when necessary.

Me with other exchange students in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Me with other exchange students in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Homesickness

It took me about a week to become adjusted to life in Bulgaria, but I still get homesick sometimes. The good thing is how easy it is to stay in contact with people at home these days. Facebook, Skype and Snapchat have been lifesavers for me! But the thing to remember is that studying abroad is only for four months. I have to make the most of every minute, because this opportunity is once in a lifetime.

My mindset while abroad has been to not miss out on any opportunity. I’m here to learn as much as I can about as many places as I can, and even if culture shock and homesickness slow me down, I won’t let them stop me on my adventure.

I signed up last minute to join a weekend trip to a spa in the ski town of Dobrinishte.
I signed up last minute to join a weekend trip to a spa in the ski town of Dobrinishte.
My friend had an extra ticket to a concert in Belgium, so I planned my spring break trip to meet up and see the concert together.
My friend had an extra ticket to a concert in Belgium, so I planned my spring break trip to meet up and see the concert together.

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