A Guide to Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a beautiful country that straddles Europe’s Balkan peninsula. The language, culture and history are rich and varied. It is also a very friendly place to visit, and the people are warm and welcoming.

The bulk of the population are ethnic Bulgarians and adhere to Orthodox Christianity. This played a major role in keeping a sense of identity during Ottoman and Communist rule, and the Church experienced a revival upon the fall of the Soviet Union. The family is the core of society, and extended families often live together in close knit networks of mutual support and cooperation.

Traditional Bulgarian food is based heavily on meat and dairy. The country has a significant contribution from Ottoman cuisine, and many dishes share similarities with Middle Eastern cuisine. Some of these include moussaka, gyuvech, baklava and kebapche. Bulgarians are also very fond of their vegetables, and salads are a staple at meals.

When it comes to desserts, there are few better than the traditional Bulgarian kurnika. This is a long thin pastry filled with sweet cream and served in bunches of three or four. It is a popular choice for an indulgent breakfast or a snack, and it can be found in most cafes across the country.

Another dessert that is a must-try for tourists is banitsa. This is a pie that is made of layers of white cheese and whisked eggs, all wrapped up in phyllo dough that curves around itself like a spiral. It is usually drizzled with honey and is a favorite throughout the country.

The main meal of the day is lunch. The typical Bulgarian lunch consists of soup, rice or pasta, a meat dish and a salad. It is often eaten with a glass of rakia, a local spirit that can be very strong and sometimes lethal. Typically the main meal is followed by a dessert, and the lunch may end with a cup of coffee.

A major part of Bulgarian culture is the respect for the dead. This is evident in the national holidays which are always marked by some kind of remembrance. For example, Christmas Eve is celebrated with vegetarian stuffed peppers, Nikulden (New Year’s Eve) involves cabbage dishes, and Gergyovden (Day of St. George, May 6) is celebrated with roast lamb.

The country has a number of prestigious universities that attract students from all over the world. The quality of education is very high, and there are a number of scholarships available for international students to help them pay for their studies. It is recommended to apply for a scholarship well in advance of the intended semester. This way, it will give the applicant enough time to apply for the necessary paperwork and to find accommodation. This will also make it much easier to gain acceptance into a university in Bulgaria. It is also a good idea to speak at least some Bulgarian, as this will improve the chances of being accepted into a program.