Study in BULGARIA with YES Abroad!

Bulgaria, located in Southeastern Europe, has a rich history dating back thousands of years. Its location near the center of the Balkan Peninsula made it an important stop for trade routes between the Near East and Europe. The Bulgarian state dates back to 691 AD. It was a part of three different Bulgarian Empires and spent over five centuries as part of the Ottoman Empire. One of the Soviet Union’s staunchest allies during the Cold War, Bulgaria transitioned from a socialist state to a parliamentary Republic in 1991 and has struggled through fits and starts to arrive where it is today, as a full member of the European Union.

Historically, Bulgaria is an Eastern Orthodox Christian country, but Sunni Islam was brought by the Ottomans, and approximately 10% of the population now practices it. YES Abroad students in Bulgaria will live with host families in Sofia, the capital and largest city in the country. Sofia is one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe, and its culture is a dynamic combination of Turkish, traditional Bulgarian, Soviet, and modern European influences. The city is located at the foot of Vitosha Mountain, which gives its skyline a beautiful background.

Sofia is very much an urban community, and as such many host families may not own a private vehicle. The most common forms of transportation include buses, trams, metro, taxis, and walking. Participants may commute anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes each way by public transportation to their host schools or American Councils’ office.

Learn more about being a YES Abroad student in Bulgaria:

Host Family

Students will live with host families in order to experience true immersion in the local culture. Families are selected based on recommendations by members of the local community, and each family is carefully screened by American Councils staff. Families are carefully vetted through a thorough application process and are highly regarded by their relatives and neighbors. Hosting communities exist through the presence of a strong support network, with a local staff member, or "local coordinator", available to each student hosted in the community.

Your High School

Participants will attend public schools, which follow a national Bulgarian curriculum. Classes are primarily in Bulgarian, and participants will be expected to focus on learning the language and participating in classes as appropriate. School typically runs Monday to Friday, from mid-September through early July with a winter and a spring break. Students at the schools are organized into two shifts. The first shift attends school in the morning to early afternoon and the second shift goes from the early afternoon to the evening. Traditionally, classes will swap shifts mid-way through the year so those who are part of the first shift in the fall will then have a second shift schedule in the spring and vice versa. Participants may have the opportunity to participate in a number of extracurricular activities, such as clubs or sports, both inside and outside of school.

The Political & Security Environment

The United States enjoys good relations with Bulgaria. This country is an active member in organizations such as the U.N., WHO, NATO, and the European Union.

For more information, visit CIA World Factbook.

Health & Safety

With a presence in Bulgaria since 2008, American Councils is able to draw on strong local connections and deep understanding of the intercultural, health, safety, and security issues. Prior to departure and upon arrival, students attend a number of informational and safety briefings by American Councils staff. They will also have a security briefing by the U.S. Embassy’s Security Office and will be given assistance in registering with the Embassy to receive travel alerts. American Councils works closely before arrival and throughout the exchange year to discuss and prepare for students’ well-being. YES Abroad students are covered by medical as well as Political and Security Evacuation Insurance. Students will have access to a 24-hour emergency number and our staff members are thoroughly trained. Each student will be given a cell phone upon arrival, and will be given the contact number for their local support representative and their local American Councils office. In the case of an emergency, a Duty Officer is on-call 24/7 in both Bulgaria and the United States. This number is made available to both students and their parents while on program. For further in information on Bulgaria visit the U.S. Department of State's website.

Enrichment Activities

Participants will have the opportunity to take part in various activities to increase their interaction with local peers in Bulgaria. Activities may include field trips, sporting events, cultural excursions, social outings, and community service projects. Examples of possible enrichment activities include:

  • Meeting with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy;
  • Exploring the capital city, Sofia;
  • Visiting historic sites in Bulgaria such as Veliko Tarnovo, the historic capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, or Rila Monastery;
  • Cultural events with Bulgarian YES alumni who studied in the United States;
  • Community service activities in Sofia;
  • Participation in volunteer activities in honor of Global Youth Service Day has also been a tradition with students worldwide.