Bulgaria is a beautiful country that abounds with modern urban centres next to unspoilt countryside with pristine forests. Modern though most cityscapes may be, they are steeped in history and majestic architecture, be it from the Byzantine past or the former Bulgarian empire. Renowned for its friendliness and safety, Bulgaria offers the warmest of welcomes to students from all over the world.
The hospitality of locals coupled with a lifestyle that embraces youth culture guarantees student life in Bulgaria will be an unforgettable experience even for the most demanding of tastes. The country's size as well as the Balkan lifestyle ensure that there is so much variety from town to town, whether it concerns the festivities, the architecture, food, traditions, the landscape or simple local cultural disparities, that everyone will find something to do. Moreover, University clubs and societies of people with common interests abound and, due to the country's varied terrain and mild climate, Bulgaria is rendered ideal for many outdoor pursuits, giving numerous students the opportunity to take part in mountaineering or hiking activities when weather permits, skiing mostly in winter, marine or fresh-water sports in spring, summer or fall, as well as team sports all year round. Last but not least, Bulgaria is a land with a rich cultural heritage, and a long tradition in opera, theatre, and music festivals, and abounds with museums. Night life is also very good as every town or city is bursting at the seams with places where young people can unwind after a hard day of studying.
To the North, Romania lends itself for excursions to legendary castles, including that of the very Count Dracula as well as cobbled streets and quaint villages that are picturesque gems. To the East, Serbia offers monasteries frozen in time and wineries along the Danube drowned in evergreen forests. To the South, Greece is just a skip and hop to the quixotic Samothrace Island with two hundred meter waterfalls flowing into the sea from the rocks above. To the East, Istanbul in Turkey offers an outstanding multicultural experience, architectural marvels from the past and present, culinary delights and lifestyle, being at the crossroads of east and west cultures and religions. Within Bulgaria itself, majestic mountain ranges carrying the burden of snow well into the summer months, lush forests, ravines with beauty as yet unseen by mass tourism, golden beaches energized by youth spirit, and outdoor cafes scattered on every street with a colourful parade of umbrellas and tables as soon as weather conditions are favourable, ornamented with countless historic chantries and Byzantine monasteries, will make students want to reminisce about student life forever after.
Bulgaria's mountains cover a third of the nation's territory, and a well-developed network of eco-trails allows visitors the opportunity to appreciate their remarkable beauty. Fully-equipped climbing facilities have been established in most mountain regions, most famous of which are the town of Vratsa, Lakatnik Rocks, and Malyovitsa. Ski resorts abound in Bulgaria as well, but nearby Mt. Kaimaktsalan and Mount Olympus in Greece are also popular student destinations for the student ski enthusiasts. Bulgaria's mountains and trails are also organised by the ministry to offer exploration on horseback. Equestrian facilities throughout the country offer both shorter rides and pack trips with a guide. In fact, equestrian sports have been established in the country for almost 90 years, and a competition sanctioned by the World Cup of Equestrian Sport is held annually in the town of Bozhurishte and amateur students who enjoy this hobby have won awards in the past. Finally, Bulgaria has an exceptionally diverse calendar that preserves the country's folk traditions and customs throughout the year.
Roses are the symbol of Bulgaria. Most tourist guides neglect this little feature of Bulgaria, but a recent photo we received from a student compelled us to make note of it. Rose picking, one of the oldest and traditional customs of Bulgarians, has become primarily a tourist attraction, and rose bushes are perhaps the small pride of neighbours in towns, who compete with one another. As a symbol, the rose has crystallized in traditional handicrafts, song, and customs, preserved throughout the ages, at the conflation of Greek, Turkish and Bulgarian tradition.
Medical students in Bulgaria are particularly happy with the high quality of student life. Most comments are about the low living costs, the easy access to every part of the country as well as rare sights of natural beauty via public transport, not to mention the interest their university professors show in their students due to the low teacher-student ratio and the quality of courses. Better yet, their degree is among the highest prize one can have in Europe.