Ray-Mart Romero, aged 22, is a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student from Saint Louis University, Baguio City, Philippines.
Dreaming of living in Europe, he was picked by his home university and finish his last courses for his Master’s Degree in one of the premier universities in Bulgaria through the Erasmus+ Student Mobility for Studies in Varna University of Management (VUM).
He is one of the first Filipinos who was able to join and enjoy the mobility in VUM. Adjusting around Bulgaria is quite a bit easy for him since he found friends from Albania, Iran, India, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Portugal, and South Korea who are also Erasmus+ students and with the help of his friends from Uganda, Mozambique, and of course friends who are locals of the country who are regular students of the university.
In his 6-month stay in Bulgaria, he was able to enjoy the beautiful sceneries and picturesque covered architecture of Dobrich, Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Burgas, Nessebar, Provadia, Ruse, Plovdiv, the country’s capital, Sofia, and the only inhabited island in the Bulgarian Black Sea coast which is the Saint Anastasia Island. Aside from those places, he was also able to visit Constanta, Romania through VUM’s Travel Agency which is the ETours.
As a Southeast Asian living the Eastern European life, he was able to meet new friends who are Bulgarian nationals and helped him experience their culture which encompasses cuisine, social habits, arts and music, and of course language. In his stay, he was able to try the national drink of the country which is Rakia; he also experienced making martenitsa; watched people dance Horo in the center of Dobrich; and speak to locals with basic greetings such as “добър ден!” (Good day!), “Здравейте!” (Hello!), and “Благодаря ти!” (Thank you!). Another, since he grew up with a tropical and a maritime climate, it was his first time to experience winter and play with snow which made him extremely happy.
Black Sea is a dream for him. Though he is from the Philippines (which is basically surrounded by bodies of water), he lives in the mountains of the Cordillera where he has to travel hours just to reach the sea— but during his mobility, he was able to enjoy the sunrises of the Varna Beach, the Golden Sands, and the Sunny Beach. With the days he spent around the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, he was also able to find friends from different parts of the world. He was able to meet friends from Poland and Spain who are Erasmus+ students from another university, a Singaporean national, and of course Filipinos who live in Bulgaria and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who work with cargo ships which docks in the Port of Varna.
Though the whole experience was a bit destructed by the global pandemic (Coronavirus/ Covid-19), it did not stop him from being culturally involved with other students. Aside from becoming a professional, it helped him grow as a person who is knowledgeable about other people’s culture.
Totally, the Erasmus+ Student Mobility for Studies did not only help him credit academics, but also helped him become an internationally culture-oriented individual.