Having visited the United States when he was a boy, Plamen Nenov knew he wanted to return to pursue a college education. “I am from Bulgaria. I live in Central Bulgaria and I decided to attend an American college because the education in the states is very, very good. It is at a very good level,” he says. “Also I was an exchange student in the states in the 11th grade and that is when I really decided to attend a university in the states.”
Plamen is in his third year of study at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He says he knew he wanted to specialize in something that would benefit his country. "I am an Econ and Math major," he says. "I have been doing math for a long time and I decided to just concentrate on more applied mathematics and that is why I decided to start with economics and also I am thinking of in the future using this knowledge of mine in economics to help my county in some way.”
Plamen speaks fondly of Bulgaria, but he says his home country could benefit from an improved economy. “I am really proud of my country’s history and there are a lot of historical monuments that Americans might be very interested in visiting. Also my country is quite pretty in terms of the nature. The people are very hospitable. They are very nice,” he says. “I have talk to a lot of Americans who have been in Bulgaria and they also confirm that they are very pleasantly surprised when they go to Bulgaria and see how nice the people are, but Bulgaria is a country in transition where they are struggling to go from centralized economic system to a more free market system. I think there are a lot of observations that I have made about the American economy that can be applied also to the Bulgarian economy.”
So what is it that drew Plamen to Amherst College? He says his decision was based on both the school's academic excellence and its social atmosphere. “Amherst College is a small liberal arts college, one of the best colleges in the state. It has an amazing social atmosphere, it is a very diverse place and I really enjoy that. I get to meet people from a lot of social backgrounds and then from a lot of different countries and different cultures,” he says. “Also it has very demanding academic subjects and professors are basically incredible. Also since it is a small college you can really get to be very close with your professors which is very helpful when you don’t understand a certain topic and you need help you can just ask the professor about it.”
Plamen says meeting different people from other countries has enriched his college experience. That experience, he says, has given him appreciation for the need for better relations between the countries of the world. “I really do think that they give the United Nations of having such a global organization where countries would discuss any problems that they have between each other and not just go to war with each other, but first try to work it out through diplomacy,” he says. “I really think that is a brilliant idea and I really think that further steps should be made towards enhancing the United Nations, having it have more financial resources, to have different projects regarding health care programs around the world and stuff like that.”
Plamen also says some of his countrymen even though they have never been to the United States view America in a positive light. “For younger Bulgarians who really stride to succeed in life. America represents the ultimate American dream I guess the ultimate way to succeed in life,” he says. “In some cases people have very positive expectations about American society and they really strive to come to the states and there are a lot of immigrants there are people like me just international students who come here temporary to see what America is like.”
After Plamen graduates from Amherst College in two years, he wants to remain in the United States to perhaps work on a graduate degree. Plamen Nenov is one of more than 500,000 international students currently enrolled in U-S colleges.