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Exchange in Bulgaria an informational booklet for interns

Content Hello, Dear Intern!

Hello, Dear Intern! First, congratulations on choosing Bulgaria for your final destination. We will do our best to make your stay in this beautiful country as perfect as possible. We are always welcoming ideas and are impassionately waiting for your questions. We want to make you feel at home and also make sure that there will be no misunderstandings. In the following booklet we tried to gather the most important information that will be useful for you during your stay in Bulgaria and that will help you dive in the Bulgarian culture and understand it better.

Sincerely yours, AIESEC Bulgaria


Bulgaria in brief Sofia in brief Curious facts Culture Climate Nature Traditional cuisine Entertainment Festivals Bulgarian celebrations Legislations Medical care Currency Bank accounts & ATMs Student discounts

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Useful Information Transportation Main Points in Sofia Safety tips

32-35 36-39 40-41 42-43


Bulgaria in Brief Bulgaria is a country situated in the Southwestern part of Europe. It is one of the oldest countries. The earliest European civilizations grew up here. Some of the most famous treasures in the world were discovered in Bulgaria, including the world’s oldest golden ornaments, thracian tombs and sanctuaries, a large number of other golden artifacts. Our history is truly spectacular so there are plenty of architectural monuments and buildings from different decades that you can enjoy. And let’s not forget and about our stunning nature in front of which people are usually left speachless. Bulgaria’s population is 7,36 million people, predominantly urban and mainly concentrated in the administrative centres of its 28 provinces. According to the Constitution, Bulgaria is a Parliamentary Republic, a unified state with local self-government. The religion


of most Bulgarians is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The national state emblem of the Republic of Bulgaria is an upright golden lion on a dark red, shield-shaped background. The Bulgarian flag consists of three colors: white, green and red, laid horizontally from top to bottom. The country’s national anthem is the song Mila Rodino (Dear Motherland). Bulgaria’s capital is Sofia. All citizens are equal before the law. No limitations on rights or privileges are allowed based on of race, citizenship, ethnicity, sex, national origin, religion, education, beliefs, political affiliations, personal or social position, or property status. The official language is Bulgarian. A lot of people,

Bulgarian Zdravey!

Pronunciation [z d r a v e i]

English Hello!


[z d r a v e i t e]


Comment A familiar form of saying hello to one person.  A familiar form of saying hello to many to a group of people or a formal way (the polite form) to greet someone you don't know or treat with respectful distance. 

Dobar den! [d o b a r d en]  Good day! /Good afternoon! Dobro utro! [d o b r o  u t r o] Good morning! Dobar vecher!  [d o b a r v e t s e r] Good evening!  Pronounce vecher like Fletcher.  Dobre. [d o b r e] Al right. / Good. / Ok. You use this if you agree. Or use it as an answer to the question "How are you?"  Kak si ? [k a k s i] How are you? Pronounce kak si like taxi. Easy. Kak ste ? [k a k s t e] Use it towards one person.  Kak ste? is the polite form toward a person and also used in the plural form (toward a group of people). 


The Capital in Brief Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is a great city to experience. You have a variety of choices to make about what you actually want to do here. The city’s history can be traced to the Neolithic age. Today Sofia is the largest city in Bulgaria and the 13th largest city in the European Union. Sofia is the main administrative, industrial and transportation center of the country. With population of 1 291 591 people, representing 17,5% of the population of the country, Sofia contributes to the creation of more than 34% of GDP. Sofia is a young and intelligent city with 20 of all 44 universities in Bulgaria with over 40 000 students. Sofia is a city-garden with nearly 10 000 acres of park territory. Also, one of the most popular Bulgarian mountains - Vitosha ( rises over Sofia. It offers excellent tourist centers, maintained ski tracks and facilities that can be used at night. Vitosha Nature Park is home to beautiful and 6

natural phenomena such as stone rivers, Duhlata cave - the longest cave in Bulgaria, Boyana waterfall and others. Sofia is a city with rich cultural heritage. The cultural routes in Sofia are a charming combination of ancient history and modern city. Our city center is located above the center of ancient Serdika whose heritage can be seen at every turn. Sofia is also a city with rich cultural life. The cultural calendar of the city offers a wide range of seasoned international festivals and events such as the Sofia Film Fest, Sofia Music Weeks, Sofia Design Week, Sofia Dance Week, Water Tower Art Festival and many others. The richness and diversity of the cultural life in Sofia is not limited to festivals because the city is full of events every day in many theaters, galleries, cinemas, concert


• The residents and visitors of Sofia can enjoy free wireless Internet almost everywhere in the city: in the park "Zaimov" , around Ariana Lake in Central Park, The Central Market Hall, the bridge behind the National Palace of Culture, the Doctor's garden, the garden of "Tsar Osvoboditel", garden "Banska", the garden around the church "St. Sofia" and South Park. • In Sofia you can also find an exhibit of the oldest gold treasure in the world, found in Bulgaria with over 3 000 gold items which are over 6 000 years old. • Another interesting thing about Sofia are the hot mineral water springs downtown (near “Serdika” subway station). You can fill your own bottles with water.


Curious facts about Sofia University, had Bulgarian origins. • The Bulgarians were the first to use Cyrillic script, which is also the alphabet currently used in Russia. • The Bulgarian folksong “Izel ye Delyo Haydutin (Delyo the Outlaw Has to Go Outside)” is one of the songs recorded and sent into space for the Voyager space program, which aimed to make contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. • Bulgarian yogurt has unique taste because the bacteria used to make it, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, is only found naturally in Bulgarian air. (Other countries import it though, so that they can make

• The inventor of the first electronic computer, Professor John Vincent Atanassoff of the Iowa State




Bulgarian pipe 10


Like every country we also have our cultural features. For example, often when we noddle our head we mean ”no” and when we shake our head we mean "yes"- we know that everywhere else it’s done the opposite way but that’s just part of our charm. Just be sure that it's clear what you are saying, you don't want to agree to something you would rather refuse. In Bulgarian, you say "da" (да) for yes and "ne" (не) for no. When in doubt, use these easy-to-remember words to make sure you are well understood.

Bulgarians are also famous for their hospitality, fun experiences and delicious cuisine. So make sure that during your stay you become part of the traditional celebrations. Just to have it in mind we love to party and celebrate even when there is no occasion. This is something very typical for our lifestyle.

Nod your head (no)

Traditional Bulgarian Table

Shake your head


Climat, Nature CLIMATE Bulgaria has a temperate-continental climate. Marked by four distinct seasons, Bulgaria enjoys a generally favorable climate that is one of the country’s best features. The average annual temperatures are at about 51°F (11°C) for northern Bulgaria and and 56°F (13°C) for southern Bulgaria. The coldest winter month is January, when temperatures vary in -23°F (-5°C) in the north and up to 36°F (2°C) in the south. Abundant snowfalls may occur throughout the country from December to mid-March, especially if you are in the mountainous areas of Bulgaria, like Sofia city.

Because of the diverse terrain, there are no tornadoes, hurricanes, sandstorms, or other strong winds of that nature. The only constant air currents are the fresh breezes along the seacoast but they make our summer be more fresh and tolerable.


If there is one thing we have to choose to represent Bulgaria with, it’s our unique and breathtaking nature. During your stay you can enjoy the purely clean air and waters in the mountains or visit our sandy beaches, spread on the seaside, filled with all kinds of entertainment.

Summers are hot with average temperature at about 73°F (23°C). July is the hottest month for the whole year in the country.



Traditional Cuisine


“Shopska“ Salad

Here comes the tasty part. We, the Bulgarians, are well known for our hospitality and delicious dishes. There is no way to really get the Bulgarian culture without trying our traditional kitchen. The Bulgarian cuisine is exceptionally diverse and delicious. Many of the dishes are prepared according to traditional recipes handed down from generation to generation over the centuries.

prepared with yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, crushed walnuts and herbs/.

The most products for which Bulgaria is internationally known are yogurt and white brine (similar to “Feta”) cheese.

Such delicacies are usually accompanied with a Bulgarian wine, since Bulgaria is justly famous for its wines. Thanks to the country’s unique climate and soils, a variety of grapes thrive here. Very popular Bulgarian highly-alcoholic drink is Rakia. It is made of grapes or other fruits. This brief introduction only touches on the diverse Bulgarian dishes and drinks. To fully know the culinary magic of the country, it is necessary to visit all of the regions where the traditional recipes are

One of the most famous and most popular breakfast items in the country is banitsa. It is a made of dough with various fillings, such as cheese, spinach, rice, and meat. Traditional Bulgarian Yogurt 14


We are also famous for our appetizers like shopska salad or tarator /cold cucumber soup, it is

Some of our typical main dishes are musaka, kebapche and kufte, mish-mash, bean with Bulgarian sausages.

proudly maintained and culinary delights are constantly on offer. Not to mention that our dishes are usually accompanied with traditional dances – like

For dessert you may try our tikvenik /pumpkin pie with walnuts/. Tikvenik


Musaka (minced meat with Mish-mash (peppers, eggs, potatoes, joughurt and egg white cheese, you could find it with onions and tomatoes too) mixture on top) 15

Entertainment In Sofia we have many places for entertainment to keep you busy. You have a wide variety of things to do like free bike or walking sightseeing tours around the city, hiking in Vitosha Mountain, exploring the nightlife, visiting all kind of festivals, dancing, architecture. Places to go and map of entertainment: • If you are a sports lover/ have a sport nature you can go caving, rafting, horse riding, hiking, rock climbing, camping or just fishing. In Bulgaria we have many appropriate places for such activities. • You can also try some of the cool free tours in Sofia: Free Sofia Tour 16

As for BARS, CAFES, ETC. here are some of our personal favorites: • If you like really odd places, then A:part:mental is just for you! With homemade yummy things to get directly from the kitchen, different kinds of room interiors and chill music. • You like rock music and party atmosphere? Why don’t you check Rock it ? Or maybe Rocknrolla – with another hall for an awesome karaoke night! j • JJ Murphy’s Irish Pub is a pretty good choice if you want to have a beer (or more :) , even to listen to some good live music if you catch a cool band. The place is quite pub-ish. 17 • “STROEZHA” (“The Construction”; in Bulgarian: „Строежа“) is maybe the best night spot in Students Town. Extraordinary interior and awesome various music ( + theme nights and live concerts).


We also have some pretty good suggestions for coffee addicts: • Ma Baker • Coffee House • Onda

• In the heart of the city, near “Slaveykov” square you will find the “4 Rooms” bar. Get some drinks at very good prices, listen to nice music, play some foosball and meet interesting people.

Or maybe you are a tea fan? Then you are going to love these two: • Tea House (“Tsai vav fabrikata”; in Bulgarian: „Чай във фабриката“)

• Do you like boarding games? Or different kinds of games? Karkason is the place to have some oldschool fun with a drink in your hand.

• Veda House …and so many more :) All these are just a small part of what we are about to show you in the city jungle.


Festivals Every year numerous Bulgarian festivals attract visitors from all over the world in the country. Considering the rich cultural, ethnographic and historical heritage of Bulgaria, there are hundreds of rites, rituals and celebrations across the country that are all worth experiencing. Undoubtedly, Bulgarian festivals are the perfect model of event tourism. They give you the chance to easily interweave culture, history and entertainment in only one vacation and be part of any festival Bulgaria has to offer. Some of the most enchanting Bulgarian folklore festivals are usually connected with specific holidays or held together with music folklore contests. Most often they are also dedicated to particular traditions and crafts. In the unique atmosphere of such events you will find yourself surrounded by an almost magic mixture of captivating colors, beautiful music and


fascinating dances. During traditional folklore conventions one could feel like riding a time machine and getting back to the past where intriguing traditions and rites become alive. Bulgarian festivals of arts, dance, music, films, photography, etc. also find place. Annual festivals like Spirit of Burgas, Kavarna Fest, Sofia Breathes, OnFest, Sofia Dance Week make this a great platform for many international talents.


Bulgarian Celevrations (or at least the most common ones) • A very typical Bulgarian celebration is Grandma Marta’s Day

the first day of March is a traditional holiday associated with sending off the winter and welcoming the spring. On that day we exchange the so called “martenitsi”. The tradition of giving your friends and family red-and-white interwoven strings brings health and happiness during the year and is a reminder that spring is near.

• March 3 is the Bulgarian National Holiday and it is a day when Bulgarians celebrate the Liberation from the Turkish slavery. March 3 is an official non-working day. The holiday is marked by impressive war parades and festal program on the Shipka peak in Central Balkan Mountain Range. The glorious hill was the spot of ferocious battles of the Bulgarian volunteers and Russian army against the Turkish troops.

• “Lazarov den”

It is always celebrated 8 days before Easter, on Saturday. This day is as a “coming of age” celebration for young girls known as “lazarki”. The maidens are dressed in colorful traditional costumes with wreaths of flowers in the hairs, singing and dancing as they go from home to home. People are giving them in return eggs and sweets for the upcoming Easter. • “Tsvetnitsa” (tsvete is flower) or “Vrabnitsa” (varba is willow) – it is celebrated always the Sunday before Easter. People with flower-related names, (for example Tsvetelina, Tsvetan, Margarita, Ralitsa, Lilia, Violeta, Yavor, Zdravko, Nevena, Temenuzhka, Rosa etc.) celebrate this day as their name day. Also, you may heard of this celebration as the Palm Sunday.

• Easter traditions in Bulgaria

are a derivative of the Eastern Orthodox Church rituals. As the Bulgarian name implies “Velikden” (Great Day), Easter in one of the most significant holidays in the Bulgarian calendar and starting with Palm Sunday, the holy week leads up to the Great Day. In tune with worldwide Orthodox traditions, bright red colored eggs and Easter breads known as “kolache” or “kozunak” are the prominent symbols of Easter in Bulgaria. At midnight on the Saturday before Easter Sunday, people gather at the church with red painted eggs and bread. The priest proclaims three times “Christos voskrese” (Christ has risen) and the congregation replies “Vo istina voskrese” (Indeed he has risen). One of the Easter breads is specially decorated with one or more (but an odd number) of red eggs. After a special sequence of services, the clergy blesses the breads and eggs brought by the people. The Bulgarian good luck crack is a unique Easter tradition in Bulgaria. Eggs are cracked after the midnight service and over the next few days. The egg that is cracked on the wall of the church is the first egg people eat after

Martenitsi 22


the long fast of Lent. People take turns in tapping their eggs against the eggs of others, and the person who ends up with the last unbroken egg is believed to have a year of good luck • “Nestinarstvo” is an ancient Bulgarian ritual originally performed in Strandzha Mountains. The ritual is usually performed on St.St. Constantine and Helena on May 21. The icons of St. Konstantin and Elena are taken out of a chapel with the accompaniment of a drum and a bagpipe. Fire dancers (nestinari), go around the local church three times and after that they start dancing on the embers. The Fire dancing ritual Nestinarstvo has been declared officially by UNESCO for World Non-material Cultural heritage. • Possibly the most celebrated name day in the country, St George’s Day (Gergyovden) is a public holiday that takes place on May 6 each year.

A common ritual is to prepare and eat a whole lamb. St. George’s Day is also the Day of the Bulgarian Army. Parades are organized in the capital Sofia to present the best of the army’s equipment and manpower.

• Bulgaria celebrates May 24 as the day of the Slavic Alphabet, Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture and it is a day marked with nationwide festivities. In the 9th century the Holy Brothers Sts. Cyril and Methodius created the Slavic alphabet and made the first translations in it. Their disciples introduced the alphabet in Bulgaria, putting the beginning of its journey to the world. The Cyrillic alphabet has been in existence for more than eleven centuries, but it was introduced for the first time in the European Union after Bulgaria obtained full membership. The Bulgarian language brought the total number of “linguae europeae” to 23. With its adoption the alphabets in use across the Union got enlarged by one more - the Cyrillic.

• Nikulden is “The Day of Saint Nikolas”

a great winter festival celebrated by all Bulgarians on December 6. Saint Nikolas is believed to help all the sailors and fishermen. He is the master of the entire submarine realm - fish and water demons - as well as the sea winds. The autumn fishing season ends on this day. The day’s catch is to be offered to the saint. The traditional Nikulden meal in each household is based upon a fish dish - “ribnik” - a carp in dough - is traditional for the holiday. Carp is regarded as Nikolas’ servant.

• Students’ Day

(on December 8) first started being celebrated in 1903, on occasion of the 15th anniversary of Sofia University and became the holiday of all students in Bulgaria.

Nestinarstvo 24



Medical Care Visitors to Bulgaria are required to register with the police within 48 hours of their arrival. We will help you with that. Most hotels, hostels, campsites, or rooms rented through an agency should take care of this for you, but private stays require you to take this measure yourself. You will be given registration slips that you will present at passport control, so keep these in a safe place.


Medical care for foreigners who are residents of the EU, EEA and Switzerland visiting or residing in Bulgaria have the right to avail themselves of their health insurance. When obtaining medical care, they need to visit a medical facility or diagnostic laboratories that has concluded a contract with the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), or any of the state or municipal medical institutions that are supported by the Ministry of Health. By relying on their own insurance plans, European Union visitors and residents do not have to pay insurance installments to the Bulgarian National Health Insurance Fund. Instead, they need only to present their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Under exceptional circumstances, this right can also be proven by providing a Certificate for Temporary Replacement of the EHIC issued by the same institution that issued the individual’s health insurance card, along with

valid identification. It is also necessary to provide the medical practitioner with copies of these two documents. Likewise, by presenting the required documents non-Bulgarians only pay the consumer fee /2.90lv/ required of Bulgarian insured citizens for medical and dental care. In the event of a medical emergency, call the tollfree telephone number 112. This is also the number to call for any other emergency. The number can be reached even outside the range of your mobile network. The 112 operators speak foreign languages as well (other than Bulgarian).



Currency Here are some prices of the most basic things so that you get a clearer idea of the amount of money that you will need:

The Bulgarian “lev� is the currency in Bulgaria. One lev consists of 100 stotinki /those are the Bulgarian coins/. It is pegged to the Euro at a rate of 1 EUR = 1.95583 lev. Currency exchanges can be found in banks, hotels and tourist offices. The average amount of money that people live with in Bulgaria is 500 lv per month.

* These prices can vary. The table is just for reference point For more information: 28


BANK ACCOUNTS ATMS Bank accounts && ATMs

Student Discounts In Bulgaria you can find ATMs almost everywhere, especially in the capital. Our bank system is widely-spread. All VISA, MasterCard and American Express cards are being accepted either in the banks or just if you want to pay by a credit card so you don't have to bother about bringing a big amount of money with you.

As you are students you can get ISIC card which you can use discounts with in more than 1 500 places in various areas: entertainment, shopping, food and beverage, sports, beauty & health, IT products, and other services. You can apply for it in your university, online or when you come in Bulgaria / just bring a document identifying that you are a regular student/.


Useful Information • The timezone is EEST (Eastern Europe Summer Time) +2:00 • Tap water in Sofia city is safe to drink. • Smoking in closed places is prohibited. Remember, you are not allowed to smoke in bars, cafes or nightclubs when the area is closed (the only exception is when two of four walls are opened to the air). But you can smoke freely in open public areas. • Business Hours: Almost all national agencies and offices have set business hours from 8 or 9a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. Shopping malls, cafes, bars and restaurants have various business hours but usually the work at least till 10 p.m. , opening at about 10a.m.

ber you have to add the international phone code for the country +359. Bulgaria phone code will enable you to make phone calls to Bulgaria from another country. You may also need city codes: • As for power plugs and sockets, in Bulgaria we have the type of plug in used in whole EU /except UK/If you are from the United States, you’ll need also a convertor from 110 V into 220 V and an adaptor for two round parallel pins too.

• To make an international call to Bulgarian num-



• Emergency phones: The European emergency number is 112 but it is not the only emergency number in Bulgaria. Alongside 112, the following emergency numbers are available: • • •

150 - ambulance, 166 - police, 160 - fire brigade

• Embassies: • Accommodation (if needed):

If there is no specific help for disabled people to access 112. Have it in mind that is not possible to call 112 without a SIM card. 112 calls are answered within 4 seconds. Calls can be answered not only in Bulgarian, but also in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Turkish or Russian. Caller location is automatically activated when the call is answered.



Transportation Public transport The various forms of public transport – trams, buses, minibuses and trolleybuses, as well as the underground metro – run from 5:00 a.m. to 11:30p.m. every day. A ticket on any bus, tram or trolleybus or subway within Sofia costs 1 lev. Most drivers on public transport sell tickets – make sure you have the right change – but it’s far easier and quicker, especially during peak times, to buy tickets from kiosks at stops along the route before boarding. All tickets MUST be validated by inserting them in the small machine on board; once perforated, tickets are nontransferable. In trams and trolleybuses there are electronic validators and ticket machines - use them. Inspectors will issue onthe-spot fines (20 lv) if you don’t have a ticket. Unwary foreigners are a favourite target. Don’t


forget also to buy an extra ticket for each piece of oversized luggage too – officially, this means anything exceeding 60cm x 40cm x 40cm. Private minibuses, known as marshroutki, are a popular and efficient alternative to public transport, but they cost slightly more (1.50 lv per trip). Destinations and fares are indicated (in Cyrillic) on the front of the minibus; pay the driver upon boarding. Sofia’s metro system has two lines which are connecting in the center of Sofia, at “Serdika” station. Metro tickets cost 1 lev per trip and cannot be used on other forms of public transport.


Taxis Taxis are an affordable and easier alternative to public transport too. By law, taxis must use meters, but those that wait around the airport, luxury hotels and within 100 m of Sveta Nedelya Square or behind Sofia University will often try to negotiate an unmetered fare – which, of course, will be considerably more than the metered fare. All official taxis are yellow (you can also use eco taxies, they are green but they are a little bit more expensive that the ordinary ones) have fares per kilometre displayed in the window, and have noticeable taxi signs (in English or Bulgarian) on top. When you go in a taxi always look at the taxi driver’s ID and don’t bother to ask how much the driving will approximately cost, so that you don’t turn to be cheated. Never accept a lift in a private, 38

unlicensed vehicle, because you will (at best) pay too much or (at worst) be robbed. The rates per kilometer may range enormously from one taxi company to another, but the standard rate is 0.80 lv per kilometer in the daytime. In the very unlikely event that you can’t find a taxi, you can order one by ringing OK (973 2121) – the most often used company or Yellow (00359 91119). And here is the number of the Green Taxi (00359 810810) – have it in mind that they are slightly more expensive. The main international airport is Sofia Airport and the national airline is Bulgaria Air.

Airports Bulgaria has 4 major airports which include Sofia Airport, Plovdiv Airport, Varna Airport and Burgas Airport. 39

Safety Tips • Be careful during being in the public transport so that you don’t end being robbed. • Don’t pay much attention or money to the homeless people asking for money – they are often just pretending. • Don’t go out alone after 11p.m. and don’t get in strangers’ cars offering you a drive. • Always wear a seat-belt. • Be prepared - we have a problem with homeless dogs. It will be better if you don’t feed or pet them.

bances. • Make a note with the emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire department, your hotel, and the nearest embassy or consulate. • Avoid scam artists by being wary of strangers who approach you and offer to be your guide or sell you something at bargain prices. • Deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money, buy airline tickets or purchase souvenirs. Try to change money only in banks.

• Don't use shortcuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets. • Avoid public demonstrations and other civil distur-



AIESEC Bulgaria Address: Bulgaria Sofia 1000 Ploshtad Narodno sabranie 10 web: Facebook:

Reception booklet of AIESEC Bulgaria  

Here you can find general and all nessesary information about Bulgaria as a destination for social iGCDP projects!

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