A Short Time in Sofia

Horace Wang
April 8, 2019

As the title of this post suggests, we didn't spend that much time in Sofia; nonetheless, I enjoyed the time we spent in the city.

Walking around Sofia made me impressed by the historical and cultural preservation that had occurred in the city—something that my hometown of Hong Kong is, unfortunately, lacking in. Our tour guide was a self-proclaimed history buff, and I enjoyed his stories of Bulgarian culture and history. One thing that stood out to me during our tour was when our tour guide referenced Maslow's hierarchy of needs to compare present-day Bulgaria and communist Bulgaria; that some needs that were not being met now were fulfilled in the communist days, and vice versa.

We had a total of three talks in Sofia, the first of which was on corruption in Bulgarian politics. Considering that I knew little about Bulgarian politics, I enjoyed learning about corruption in Bulgaria and the ongoing "Apartmentgate" scandal. Coming out of the lecture made me start to consider the ways in which corruption in Bulgaria was similar to and different from corruption in the United States and Hong Kong. The second lecture was about Bulgaria's foreign policy and its relationship with the EU. As I have learned about the EU enlargement process in both my Integrative Seminar as well as my policy class, I felt that this lecture was a nice complement to my class material. But it was the third and final lecture, which was about energy security in Bulgaria and the rest of the EU, that I found the most interesting and engaging. The lecture was relevant to much of what I had learned over the course of the semester, specifically the relationship between the EU and Russia when it came to energy policy. I was especially excited to learn about how the EU managed to maintain energy ties with Russia whilst maintaining economic sanctions against the country.

Given that we didn't spend a lot of time there, I didn't have the time to develop a good taste for Bulgarian cuisine. But we did have our farewell dinner in what my professor from Sofia said was an authentic Bulgarian restaurant. There were a total of three courses—an appetizer platter with a variety of different meats, a meat platter for the main course, and dessert. I use the word "platter" lightly because there was enough food to feed twice the amount of people at my table.

On the whole, I especially enjoyed the member states trip because it allowed me to travel to countries that I likely would have not otherwise travelled to. Out of all of the three academic trips that I have gone on this semester, I felt that the theme was the most prominent on this trip. I feel lucky to have had the chance to visit three EU member states that signifcantly differ in their history, culture, and politics, and I know that my understanding of the EU has expanded as a result. 

Horace Wang

<p>I was born and lived in Hong Kong my entire life before coming to the United States for college. My three favorite things in life are currently politics, comic books, and Kpop, although not necessarily in that order. I like to write, read, draw, and work out in my free time.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2019 Spring
Home university:
Bowdoin College
Hometown:
Hong Kong
Major:
Environmental Studies
Government
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