Bodies, Space and Being: Culture, Language and Wellness in Modernizing Bulgaria – Study Abroad Course with CSULB

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Los Angeles
Tour Details

Stone & Compass is excited to announce a partnership with California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) in hosting their 2-week study abroad program in Bulgaria.  Enrollment is now open for 4 different course offerings: Modernization in Global Perspective, Culture and Communication, Ethnographic Field School, and Special Topics in Anthropology. See below for full course descriptions. All courses are open to students from CSULB or other universities as well as to community members who are interested in learning about Bulgarian culture and history and ethnography. You get to choose which classes fit your interests and graduation needs: ANTH 307: Modernization in Global Perspective, ANTH 412: Culture and Communication, ANTH 440: Ethnographic Field School, and ANTH 490: Special Topics in Anthropology. You can take 1 or 2 classes on the same trip. 

Learn more about how to enroll in the CSULB course or courses below:

Departure & Return Location

Los Angeles (flights not included)


CSULB students, other college students, community members

Course Information

Join this trip to learn ethnographic and linguistic methods while immersed in Bulgarian languages and cultures. Bulgaria is a country that is undergoing tremendous cultural and political change as a former Soviet Bloc state and as one of the newer member states of the European Union. We will explore how these shifts continue to impact bodies, space and being, focusing on conceptualizations of language, identity, food, and consumption as part of larger issues of wellness. We will spend 10 nights in the village of Stolat in the Balkans, and travel and overnight in other locations around the country, including the capital city of Sophia. You will also spend time with seniors at the Elderly Center of Stolat.

To learn more about the different course offerings and/or to apply to this program at CSULB click on the link below.

 ANTH 307 Modernization in Global Perspective

ANTH 412 Culture and Communication

Profession Biosketches

Dr. Karen Quintiliani and Dr. Melissa Maceyko

Dr. Karen Quintiliani is a cultural anthropologist specializing in engaged ethnography and social change processes. Her areas of research have included political violence and reconciliation; cultural history of the Cambodian refugee experience; social welfare policy; gender and sexuality; health; youth cultures; and program development and evaluation. She is interested in global transitional spaces where cultures, symbols and rituals intersect to create new possibilities for interaction.

Dr. Melissa Maceyko is a linguistic anthropologist specializing in discourse analysis and democratic practice. Her areas of research have included social movement building; corruption; political advertising; gender and sexuality; language endangerment; and social justice issues related to language variation. She has conducted research in Papua, New Guinea and the United States.

Day 1/2
Travel to Sophia, Bulgaria

After your travels, you will be happy to know that one of the Stone & Compass guides’ smiling face will be waiting for you at Sofia International Airport. Getting settled into your room at the Premier Best Western Hotel and taking a nice hot shower may be your first choice to get ready for the adventures ahead. After a little rest, the group will gather for a welcome dinner and then a much-needed nights sleep awaits you. Sleep well as tomorrow you will be embracing Bulgaria’s vibrant capital city of Sofia for a guided walking tour.

Day 3
Sophia Tour

Wake up to a full breakfast before heading out with the group to have a guided walking tour of Sofia. After a traditional lunch, deepen your cultural knowledge of Sofia’s history with a lecture/tour at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum. In the afternoon you will take a tour of how Communism affected Sofia. Then depart together for Stolat, Bulgaria, your home for most of the trip.

Day 4
Veliko Tarnovo

Today we head to Veliko Tarnovo University to learn about Bulgarian Linguistics from a VTU professor. Quickly learn some Bulgarian phrases you will use throughout your stay here. After lunch, we will walk through Tsaravets Castle and enjoy the small cobblestone streets for a stroll through the city.

Day 5
Stolat Elderly Center and Theater

Today we stay close to home, walking a few minutes up the road to the center of Stolat. Meet the locals as you spend the morning getting to know some residents of the local Stolat Elderly Home. Here you will complete the first part of your service to local community members as you get to know them and hear their stories. We’ll also visit a communist era theater that is Phase 2 of Stone & Compass development. The building itself is a time-capsule of items from when the Communists left in 1989.

Day 6
Arbanasi and Gorno Airport

Arbanasi is an ancient village with beautiful architectural monuments, many dating to the 17th and 18th centuries, when it rose to prominence as an important craft and commercial center, and others dating to the Bulgarian National Revival period of the 19th century. Arbanasi is especially well-known for its numerous old churches. The Church of the Nativity of Christ (pictured), for example, dates back to the 15th century, and features impressive murals and iconostases representative of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

In the afternoon, we will visit Gorno, where an American company has bought a 35-year lease for their airport and plans to completely redevelop it, lengthening the runways to allow passenger jets to use it. You will see modernization underway and be able to see its affect on nearby Veliko Tarnovo.

Day 7
Farmers market and Bulgarian Cooking

Today we will enjoy another local adventure, this time to a farm in Dushevno and a farmers market in Sevlievo. You will go with a shopping list and a challenge to get everything on your list using Bulgarian yourself. Hopefully you will be successful, because from there, we return to the center with all our ingredients to learn how to make traditional Bulgarian cuisine for our own dinner.

Day 8
Emen Gorge

Get some stretching in this morning because we’re going for a hike. Explore the beautiful Emen Gorge. Traverse some harrowing (but perfectly safe) walking bridges. And get refreshed in a watering hole beneath a waterfall.

Day 9

The rewards for your travels and hard course work have come on this day when you get a free day to enjoy the Stone & Compass Center and all the relaxing activities that abound. Explore the 2000 acres or just swim in the pool.

Day 10

Today we visit the Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance.

This is a leading Roma organization working for the equal integration of Roma in Bulgarian Society. This is an opportunity to develop a greater understanding of the Roma experience within Bulgaria.

Day 11

Enjoy a second rest day hanging out at the center. For those interested, we can arrange another visit to our friends at the Elderly Center in Stolat.

Of course, the pool and a stroll around the neighborhood are always restful as well!

Day 12
Devatashka Cave

Today you will try your hand at spelunking (cave exploration) in sprawling Devatashka Cave. Archaeological items from this cave date back 70,000 years! It is a huge, karst structure that once held oil silos to hide and protect them from bombing. Now it is home to a rare and endangered bat, so try not to disturb them too much.

Day 13
Gabrovo and Etara

Today we head to the post-industrial city of Gabrovo. A thriving city under communism, it has struggled to establish an identity since. Here we can visit museums to both Industry and Humor.

In the afternoon, you will see how traditional arts and industry are being constructed as central to Bulgarian national identity. We will travel to ETARA an open-air ethnographic museum where you will get to see first hand traditional crafts being created right before your eyes. All powered by an amazing series of water sleuths and water-powered machinery. Get a guided tour of how all of this is done and have free time to browse around and buy yourself and your friends some truly unique Bulgarian crafts.

Day 14
Return to Sophia and Depart Home

Awaken your senses with one last morning cup of coffee or tea in the barn. Breathe the fresh air and relish the peace and serenity that is Stone & Compass. Reflect on your experience as you travel back to Sofia Airport. View the landscape and imagine when you will return. . . as you will want to return!


Price Includes

  • Ground Transportation in Bulgaria
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • Translator
  • Museum/Historical Site Admission Fees
  • Tour Guide(s)
  • Bulgarian Health Insurance (30,000 Euros)

Price Excludes

  • Roundtrip Airfare
  • Course RegistrationContact CSULB for course enrollment and registration.
  • Private ExpensesSnacks, gifts, shopping, etc.

Payment can be made in full or following the payment schedule below.

Total Price




Final Payment