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A Perfect Student Trip: Bulgaria

3rd December 2011

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Choosing where to go on your first uni holiday is a potential minefield. It’s the end of term, you’ve nearly run out of your student loan, but you still want one last, glorious week of partying in the sun before parting with your housemates for the long summer. 

With a limited budget and often a large number of people to please, tensions can run high when it comes to picking the perfect destination. But when the travel agent puts a glossy brochure in front of you, it’s worth remembering that you don’t have necessarily have to go a typical student location to have a good time.

In June, I flew to Bulgaria for a week with six friends to see off the end of our third year at Exeter Uni. Originally hoping to hit Ibiza, we were warned off by horror stories of €50 entry for clubs and huge queues to get in anywhere worth going. The end of term was creeping up on us, so we booked Bulgaria on the basis that it was the cheapest place in the brochure, and that anywhere that shared its name with a Womble couldn’t be too bad.


Our resort, Sunny Beach, sounded suspiciously like it had been designed based on a key word search on Google; on arrival, it turned out to be a concrete jungle filled almost entirely with tourists.  By day, the streets were packed with billboards advertising tattoo parlours and massages. At night, it was hard to walk anywhere without persistent reps trying to pull you in to the (usually themed) nightclubs that lined the main strip in the centre of the resort.

But Bulgaria turned out to have more to offer than these delights. If you do actually want to see any of the country you’ve come to visit, Sunny Beach is surrounded by beautiful ports such as the nearby ancient town of Nessebar. You can even take a coach across the border to Istanbul. And despite the prominence of foreign tourists, there are certainly some cultural differences: stopping at a pelican crossing seems to be viewed as a sign of weakness amongst Bulgarian drivers, and at restaurants, food ordered at the same time often arrives half an hour apart. But these hiccups, plus finding the occasional cockroach in your hotel, starts to seem funny pretty quickly if you’re with the right people, and certainly made for a memorable holiday.

It seems that we were accidently bang on trend with our choice of destination: the high price of the euro combined with the desire to discover something new means that increasing numbers of students are starting to think outside the box. Aside from Bulgaria, countries such as Croatia and Serbia, which holds the Exit Festival, are becoming more and more popular. Sunny Beach isn’t exactly glamorous, but it is good fun and for under £300 for 8 days, I would recommend it to students looking for a friendly and inexpensive place to party, while perhaps absorbing a bit of culture at the same time.

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