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American University in Bulgaria Reviews

21 reviews
There are currently (2015) very few courses being offered compared to Western Universities. Most of the options are courses required for majors with a few sprinkles of electives, and they generally aren't designed to target specific areas. For example, they won't offer a course called "Media and Politics" or "Economics of International Hospitality Businesses" as you might see at other schools, but they will offer all the necessary courses you need to compete in the marketplace and an elective in theater or German languages. The professors are mostly good. There are some (mostly Bulgarians) that read entirely out of the textbook, some who don't even use their textbooks, and some who have heavy accents that you have to adjust to. The liberal arts model will also requires everyone to take a lot of different general courses, and inevitably you will probably not be good at some of them. If you are from Bulgaria, I strongly recommend you set aside significant time for office hours with professors and visits to the writing center before turning in papers, since many professors, especially the American ones, are very demanding in the quality and format of their research papers, and this isn't well taught at most Eastern European High Schools.
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I'm an American student who transferred into AUBG for financial reasons, and it was a great decision. This school isn't for everyone, but there's a lot to do on and off campus and the classes (though the options are limited) are generally well-taught and reflect the American liberal arts style. My favorite thing about this school compared to the one I transferred from in the US is how much is expected of the students here. There are several student clubs and organizations on campus, but unlike American programs they aren't meant to just pass time or pad the resume, you actually organize and manage huge projects and conferences. Students have a lot of responsibility here and are more challenged to develop socially and professionally than academically, which in my opinion is how a university should operate.

There are downsides to every university. The food here is deplorable, so either budget to eat out most nights or learn to cook. If you are an international student, especially from a country like the US or Serbia with a lower number of students, you'll find that freshman year students will naturally divide into their nationalities and forget to speak English, but this starts to go away after a semester or two. If you aren't used to Eastern European cultures, you should also be aware that administration and lifestyle here is disorganized and not customer-friendly. There isn't a lot of transparency in the university's accounting or operations, and you have to be really persistent to get answers to one question at a time, while in the US you can send an email with ten questions and have them answered by the end of the day.
So Blagoevgrad in general is super safe. I'm comfortable walking around town at two in the morning alone with earphones in. There's very little violent crime here, and the instances of violence usually devolve from alcohol, not money or sex. However, non-violent crime is kinda rampant. For example people living on the ground floor or the dorm buildings are advised not to keep their windows open because certain locals will literally reach their hands in and take things off your desk. This is a daily occurrence, and there doesn't seem to be a solution in the works, even though the dorms get really hot during the fall and spring. The security cameras on campus are also spotty and generally don't work, so you can't rely on them when things do go wrong. There are security guards inside the buildings, but unless something happens in their direct view or someone comes for them they aren't very helpful, since they stay in one spot all night. In the end you're safe here, but your possessions are less so.