A member of the European Union since 2007, Bulgaria sits at an ancient crossroad between East and West. ISEP’s member university, the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG), is located in the southwestern part of the country, in the major city of Blagoevgrad.
With its clean, quiet surroundings, walking plaza, shops, and restaurants, it is small enough for students to find anything they need within a few minutes. At the same time, the dynamic environment of outdoor cafes, movie theaters, and recreational facilities makes it possible for students to have a balanced life with both hard work and fun. Three majestic mountain ranges with picturesque lakes surround the region and offer outdoor activities for all seasons, and nearby historical and archaeological monuments include the ruins of Roman settlements, Early Christian basilicas, medieval Byzantine and Bulgarian towns, monasteries, and fortresses.
This program is best for a student that is independent. A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed. Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.
Experiences of Former Students
WHAT PAST STUDENTS HAVE TO SAY
“You’ll be surprised by the beauty of the country, the food, the hospitality, and you will come to understand and respect the scars that the country has. It will have a lasting impact on the way you think and live.” - ISEP student from University of Wisconsin Stout
To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:
Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).
The Rough Guide to Bulgaria calls Blagoevgrad “the coolest place in southwest Bulgaria.” Undoubtedly a university town—with 20,000 of its 80,000 residents being students—it is also a vibrant economic and cultural center boasting a restored old quarter and quaint shopping plazas, along with dynamic clubs and cafes that are known as some of the most “stylish” in the country. Blagoevgrad is famous for its architecture and welcoming atmosphere, and the surrounding region abounds with natural beauty and tourist attractions such as the Rila Monastery, the ski resort of Bansko, the spa town of Sandanski, and the Seven Lakes of Rila Mountain. Bulgaria’s capital of Sofia, only an hour away, offers access to cities all over Europe, and Istanbul and Greece can be easily reached by train or bus.
AUBG students are energetic, enthusiastic, and highly intelligent. The multicultural student body includes 40 nationalities. Diversity is honored, inclusiveness is nurtured, and academic excellence is always the intellectual goal. Courses are taught by a high-quality, international faculty experienced in teaching in a multicultural, learner-centered environment. The interactive teaching found at AUBG fosters the development of intellectual reflection, effective communication, personal initiative, individual self-expression, and civic responsibility.
The American University in Bulgaria is an American-style, four-year, English-speaking liberal arts University. Courses are taught by experienced American and international faculty who teach in a multicultural, learner-centered environment. The interactive teaching found at AUBG fosters the development of intellectual reflection, effective communication, personal initiative, individual self-expression, and civic responsibility. Educated in the spirit of the liberal arts tradition, AUBG graduates become competent professionals with a broad and integrated vision of contemporary society that enhances their capacity as citizens and future leaders of the region. Instruction is in English. Grades and transcripts are issued in the American-style format of A, B, C, D, and F.
The most appropriate fields of study for ISEP participants include European studies, business, computer science, journalism, and political science/ international relations.
Academic Environment and Teaching Style
Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm. Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.
All courses/modules may have prerequisites. Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it. Be aware of these limitations.
HINTS FOR RESEARCHING COURSES
Click on the Courses link
Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.
Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.
AUBG offers American-style liberal arts education with English as the language of instruction. AUBG is a multicultural institution and provides an unrivaled cultural experience. Forty percent of the student body is non-Bulgarian from over 24 countries. The university promotes educational outreach programs to serve the wider community.
All first-year and transfer students participate in a week-long orientation program. During this time new students receive information on academic advising and course selection, health care, campus activities, athletics, financial aid, career planning, residence life, and diversity awareness. Social events throughout the week provide opportunities to meet other students, Residence Assistants, Faculty, and Student Services personnel.
AUBG offers a variety of sports opportunities, including baseball, tennis, boxing, chess, skiing, fitness, dancing, soccer, American football, swimming, and aerobics. Residence halls host table tennis, billiards and gym facilities. Those interested in skiing, hiking, boxing, kickboxing, aerobics, volleyball, baseball, yoga, tae kwon do, softball, and karate have formed student clubs and intramural teams. Every semester the soccer and basketball intramural competitions and the Bulgarians vs. Internationals tournaments stir the emotions of players and fans alike. AUBG is also ideally located for trips to the ski resorts of Bansko, Borovetz, and Pamporovo.
|Housing and Meals|
Students live in shared rooms in on-campus residence halls and receive a stipend to purchase meals at the campus cafeterias. Additionally, common cooking facilities are available.
For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange progam includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, insurance, housing, and an equivalent of 19/meals per week.
Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 programs:
Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.
You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.
Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.
Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.
For Questions About the Initial Application Process:
Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office