Blago00



Frequently Asked Questions about the Blago00 school



1. About the travel

1.1. When is the best time to arrive and to leave?

Arrival: Sunday 30 July. Departure: Saturday 12 August.

1.2. What should I do if I need a visa to go to Bulgaria, and an acceptance letter to get the visa?

Contact Ellie, alek@bcci.bg, as soon as you can, she will arrange for the letter to get to you. She will need your name as it appears in your passport, and a postal address where she can send the invitation. (Notice that EU citizens do not need any visa).

1.3. What is the nearest airport?

Sofia.

1.4. How do I get from Sofia to Balgo?

To make things easier, I've split the answer in 3 parts below : (i) how to get from Sofia airport to sofia bus-terminal, (ii) buses to blago, (iii) how to get from the blago bus to the hostel.

1.5. I fly to Sofia, how do I get from the airport to the bus for blago?

The wimp-tourist way: take a taxi (you can pay in dollars if you have no Bulgarian change yet). Beware though, as usual around airports, prices vary with the fantasies of the drivers. Do not pay more than 10$ (which is already enormous).

The real way: take bus 84 and then 123 (Some of us did lat year, so it's doable, but you'll have to be patient and determined...). When you leave the terminal for International flights turn left and walk for something like 200 meters until you reach the terminal for Domestic flights. The bus stop of No 84 bus is in front of this terminal (watch out, the sign for the bus stop is somewhat difficult to spot). Buy a ticket from the kiosk at the bus stop and punch it in the bus (single bus ticket costs 0.3 leva, so you'll need 2 of those.). If the kiosk is closed buy a ticket from the driver. Otherwise you risk being fined 20 levs (10 USD). Stay on this bus intil the Pliska hotel (you'll have to ask someone who knows, the stops are not announced in a foreigner-friendly way, when they are announced at all). Now we come to the important bit. At Pliska change to buses 213, 305 or 313. The final stop of all of these buses is the coach/train station.

You're now at the railway station. Congratulations, drink a beer to calm down. The bus station is really near, but the description of the way there sounds tough: "The bus terminal is located on your right (when facing the railway station). Go along the sidewalk (parallel to the railway station), and turn left at the end (do not cross the street). Keep going straight ahead. In front of you you will see a tall building - the Novotel Hotel (or the Princess Hotel - it has been renamed recently). The bus terminal is before the hotel, in the first street on the right. It is a huge place and you cannot miss it".

1.6 What are the Sofia-Blago bus schedules?

departures: 6h30 7h00 7h30 8h00 8h40 9h00 9h30 10h30 11h00 11h40 12h30 13h20 14h00 15h00 16h15 17h00 18h00 19h00
Watch out though: they go away as soon as they're full, even before official schedule. So get there a bit in advance.

(You can also take a train from Sofia to Blago. My experience is that people advise against trains in Bulgaria because they're slower, less comfortable, rarer, etc. On the other hand they run later than the buses so they might save your day. Here are the schedules that we had access to for departures from Sofia to Blago:
7h10 14h10 16h35 19h15 22h58)

1.7 Ok, I'm in Blago bus terminal, how do I get to the hostel?

With your back to the railway building, you have a wide street in front of you. It's on that street. If you feel like walking, it's about 15 minutes. There will be signs and people waiting for you starting Saturday 13.00 o'clock until Monday 19.00 pm.
You can also take a taxi, 1 lev (=0.50$). Tell the driver to take you to the VOLGA of AUBG (or try to ;-). There will be a crew waiting for you. Volga is 6 minutes walk from the central AUBG building.

1.8 Where should I change money upon arrival?
[adapted from a post by Andrei Yanev]

The change bureau at Sofia airport does not offer the best exchange rate, so change only a small amount. Change the rest in the change bureau at the Pliska hotel. Working hours in the hotel are 8-19 hours Monday through Friday, and 8-17 hrs. on Saturday.

NEVER CHANGE MONEY IN THE STREET! CHANGE YOUR MONEY IN THE CHANGE BUREAUX OR IN THE BANKS AND ALWAYS READ THE CURRENCY DISPLAY BOARDS FIRST TO BE SURE THERE IS NO COMMISSION! THERE ARE VERY FEW PLACES WHICH CHARGE A COMMISSION, BUT WHERE THEY DO, IT CAN BE QUITE HIGH.

2. About the hostel

2.1. What kind of place are we staying in?

The student hostel/dorms of the American University of Blago. I haven't seen it but from what I'm told it's luxury compared to what the school is used to... (meaning showers will actually work? ;-)

2.2. Do I need to do anything in order to book my hostel room?

No, people who are registered automatically have rooms allocated in the student-hostel where we all stay.

2.3. When should I pay for the hostel?

Upon arrival, for the whole period.

2.4. How do I pay, dollars, levas, credit card?

Either levas (bulgarian currency) or dollars will do. No credit card.

2.5. My travel arrangements force me to arrive/leave a day earlier/later, is that ok?

Yes, the hostel is available from Saturday 29 July at 14h, up to Sunday 13 August at 14h.

2.6. Is there enough room for all of us?

Apparently, the answer is yes. Initially it seemed that there were only 200 beds. (And 270 persons are registered now - early July.) But then some administrator remembered that there is another building further away with additional space. [Andy who believes that more than 200 persons will come, anyway ;-]

3. About the registration

3.1. What happens if I submit my registration form several times?

Only the last one will be counted.
(If you submit them with the different names, then they will all be counted and you will receive the shame-of-the-egg punishment for giving additional work to organisers.)

3.2. If I register, can I later decide to withdraw my registration?

Yes, of course! Just send a msg to school-withdraw@auf.net and you will be automatically removed from the list of participants.
We do request though that you tell us before the 20th June. There will probably be more talk about this on the mailing list, to solve some issues that arose in the past in connection with people not showing up.

3.3. What is this stuff about mailing lists?

When you register, you are automatically subscribed to 2 mailing lists: one for annoucements and one for general discussion. The reason for having 2 lists is simple: we want make it easy for you to unsubscribe from the discussion list, in case it becomes too noisy for your taste. But at the same time we need to be able to reach everyone easily until the last minute. The solution is to have one low-traffic list where every participant will remain subscribed (= 'annoucements' list), and one other list which you're free to leave whenever you want(= 'discussion' list).

4. Grants

4.1. Are grants really only for Central/Eastern Europe?

Yes. See the blurb on the purpose of the school for a brief explanation of why this is. It would be great if we could give out more money, but we're on a shoestring budget and it's already difficult like this... We're pretty flexible on what counts as 'east' though ;-)

4.2. What about people from Central/Eastern Europe living abroad?

That's to be seen on a case by case basis. But in general preference is given to those living out of reach of all these nice dollars ;-)

4.3. Is it true that grants are given only to people who stay for the whole school?

Yes! And we are pretty strict on this (see next question also)

4.4. When will I know if I received a grant?

Since the deadline for applications is 15th may, it'll be a little after that: around end May.

4.5. I have a travel grant, how does reimbursement proceed?

You are expected to pay your travel, and then be reimbursed during the school. The reimbursement will be at the end of the school. We will be pretty strict on this, as there has been some abuse in the past.

4.6. I have an accomodation grant, do I need to pay the hostel and be reimbursed after?

No, the school pays the hostel directly.

5. About the classes

5.1. Am I supposed to attend all the classes?

No way! This school is supposed to be benefit you, not stuff too much down your throat! So attend as much as you can digest, and only the parts you are really interested in.

5.2. Can I attend classes from both tracks?

Yes, of course.

5.3. When will the schedule be known?

Scheduling is a long and difficult process. My hope is that we'll have one early May, but you never know. Wish us luck...

6. Misc

6.1. Will there be an internet connection available?

Yes, there should be: the Blago university promised that there would be several connected computers available.

6.2. Who should I contact if I have more questions?

First make sure that the answer to your question is not on this website! If it's not, send an email to summerschool@auf.net



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