A Day in Ruse: Collaborations Abroad

Today was an important day for not only our Vision Team here in Bulgaria, but also for the entire OT program at CSUDH. We had the incredible opportunity of meeting and collaborating with students and directors from the University of Ruse, a lovely university referred to by the students and faculty as “Angel Kanchev.”

Despite arriving late to our meeting with the OT faculty and students (Mnogo suzhalyavam za zakusnyatkhme), we enjoyed a presentation given by Liliya Todorova, the founder of the university’s OT program (Bulgaria’s only OT program). She, one of the first graduates from the OT program in Ruse, is now a professor and a director for the program. Occupational therapy is a newer discipline in Bulgaria (10 years old), and is mirroring the same growing pains that the US once had. The bachelor’s program was established in 2006 and the master’s program in 2013. In 2011, a connection was established with the US with a Fullbrite scholar, making Erasmus mobility possible. This is a process that funds students’ and teachers’ travel abroad to study occupational therapy.

After a fruitful Q/A session with the group, we were given a tour of the university. EXCITING NEWS: Liliya is looking forward to collaborating with us in the future!

To bask in the glory surrounding a successful meeting, we decided to treat ourselves to a couple of hours touring the beautiful city of Ruse. We were given free time to explore the city’s main square, venturing into and out of shops and contemplating gift ideas for our loved ones back home. Some enjoyed gelato, while others enjoyed Bulgarian beer. Some cleaned out entire perfume stores (you know who you are, wink wink), while others merely window shopped, admiring the many Bulgarian treasures.

After regrouping at the square’s fountain, we found our way back to the vans and headed home. Or so we thought. Our fabulous guides had yet another surprise in store! We were invited to enjoy an a-la-carte dinner at a hip, local restaurant in a town called Veliko Tarnova. There, we experienced a wave of emotions-stunned by the city views, excited to eat salad (just salad), and terrified of the “Andre the Giant” size pizzas. You’d think we’d know better by now. 🙂 All in all, it was a lovely day filled with laughs, eating, tears, eating, and more laughs.

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