If you are an NBS student with a sense of adventure and willingness to discover new cultures, Sofia University could be your next study abroad destination.
As part of the Erasmus+ programme, I visited Sofia University in June 2017 with the objective of strengthening collaboration between Norwich Business School and the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration which is part of Sofia University. This trip followed two previous trips made by Dr Graham Manville back in 2013 and 2015 respectively. The Faculty of Economics and Business Administration is the No 1 business school in Bulgaria in terms of reputation, quality of teaching, research and student body. They collaborate with many good universities around the globe such as Harvard Business School, University of Bordeaux and a number of UK universities.
During my visit I lectured to a class of around 50 second year students taking an accounting module. The Bulgarian students were very excited to be taught by a visiting UEA lecturer but at the same time they were attentive and engaging. Alongside students, in the lecture there were also a few lecturers from the accounting department who were themselves interested in my visit and I took this opportunity to be an ambassador for both UEA and Norwich Business School. As I love UEA, it was natural to be enthusiastic in promoting our fantastic student body, the campus, the excellent facilities, our research and teaching, our social activities as well as presenting the fine city of Norwich.
I had an official meeting with the founding Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration – Prof George Chobanov, with the executive Dean – Asoc Prof Teodor Sedlarski (who, by the way, was also Bulgaria’s Minister of Finance – the equivalent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK and came to visit NBS in 2016), with Dr Marcellin Yovogan, the Head of the Accounting and Finance Group and with Dr Eleonora Stancheva as my counterpart in the accounting department. We have agreed that we should move from the exchange of staff to the exchange of students between our universities starting with the 2018/19 academic year and administrative procedures are currently being dealt with in view of starting the student exchange both ways at that date. There are many modules at Sofia University which are taught in English and they already have a good number of Erasmus students coming from reputable European universities every year.
Sofia, as a city, exceeded my expectations. My impression of Sofia was that of a relaxed, safe and friendly European capital. The city is surrounded by high mountains which can be seen from virtually everywhere you are but at the same time Sofia itself is on a flat plateau and doesn’t have the feeling of a mountain city.
Celebrity visitors to Sofia in the last few years include Hollywood actors like Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, Selena Gomez, Scarlett Johansson to name just a few, as well as many music and sport stars that have left very good reviews. The weather was rather hot, with temperatures of around 27 degrees Celsius but I was impressed with the number of outside restaurant tables in the shade, in the main parks and on the main pedestrian streets where the cuisine and drinks are very nice. Taxis are very affordable and a high proportion of key hotel, shopping and museum staff speak English. Overall, a nice European experience and a very good value for money destination.
So, if you are contemplating studying a year abroad or a shorter Erasmus study abroad experience, there is now another European destination – Sofia University, Bulgaria – a place and institution which should be on your list of options. It’s your call…
To find out more about UEA’s Study Abroad programme options, see the Study Abroad webpages
With thanks to Dr. Octavian Ionescu for contributing to the NBS blog.