Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)



I had an interesting, albeit semi-unsettling, talk with my Bulgarian friend, B., tonight,

(Just in case he reads this and takes offense-I should clarify that he is actually Macedonian, born in Serbia and holds Croatian citizenship. He only lives in Bulgaria. Yeah. It’s confusing! )

Anyway, I came away from our conversation a bit nervous about moving to Bulgaria.

A few times this summer I have been asked if I will be moving to Bulgaria with Vince. When I respond yes, I am met with puzzled looks and sometimes-snide comments, especially from Bulgarians (okay, pretty much exclusively from Bulgarians).

Why, they ask, would I be moving to Bulgaria when most other young people there are moving out of Bulgaria? Am I crazy?

I can’t say that I don’t get it. I do. Bulgaria isn’t exactly flourishing right now. Vince and I fully expect to have our struggles, just like most every other person living in BG. But until tonight, I suppose I never really fully imagined myself facing specific challenges.

B. recounted stories of greed and corruption. He said to be prepared to be gossiped about and judged. Any success that Vince and I achieve will be begrudged by others, even friends, he says. Although, we shouldn’t really expect much success in Bulgaria, right? 😉

Of course, I had heard about some of the things he mentioned. Vince did pass an exam at school by giving the professor some candy and alcohol. I guess I just never put it into a more personal context. Those things happen to other people! Not Vince and I!

The more I think about it, though, the more determined I become. Maybe I am naïve, but I want the adventure. I want the struggles. I am not moving there expecting to live a cushy life. If I wanted things “easy,” I would stay put in Utah, working the same old job and doing the same old things.

Every place has it weaknesses and strengths. Sometimes it just takes a little appreciation of the good things to help overshadow the bad.

Maybe I am giving Bulgaria a silver lining too early in the game. I know it will take actually being there for a good amount of time before I am able to say whether I can hack it. It may just be too difficult and we will head back to the United States long before we thought we would. Who knows.

So, while talking to B. put me a little on edge, I still feel that moving to BG, at least for a few years, is the best decision for Vince and I.

Maybe all it will take to improve things in Bulgaria are a few more people like us. People willing to stick around and try our hardest to make things better. I hope so anyway!


6 thoughts on “Apprehension

  1. invest in a book or course of “Bulgarian for Dummies” or something… anything to keep you on top of things! I am so impressed by your hunger for change, challenge and adventure,

    Love ya Whitney-Girl!

  2. Hi,

    I can only speak from spending long vacations in Bulgarian both in the city apartment and country house. To be honest, Bulgaria can be a scary, fun, pleasant, lovey and lonely place. Lonely only because the language is hard, and you can sit in silent a lot. Not sure how good V is at translating when you’ve travel there, but I can say my husband doesn’t always include me. Lucky you will start to pick a few words, and it will get better. I tell you that not a lot of people smile there, and that will take a toll on you. BUT if you are anything like me, you will keep smiling at everyone, no matter what. I find that people dwell on the bad things, and how hard life is there and it’s hard for a lot of people, but just remember that you and V love each other. Look at Carolyn, she like Bulgaria, and going on 3rd year.

    Listen to people talk about BG but make our opinion. My husband’s family make me feel welcome every time we go to BG and I love them for that……..

    • Thanks for the advice. I will definitely try to keep smiling (I agree that most people there didn’t seem to look too happy). I remember feeling so helpless when I was there and couldn’t read a single sign or even order food for myself. It was definitely an odd feeling. I definitely look to people like Carolyn and others who not only live in BG for extended periods of time but who also enjoy it as well.

  3. Haters gon’ hate 😛 Don’t let people discourage you about your move to BG. I never really got any snide comments from people(not to my face anyway), but we have had our share of “good luck’s” from pessimistic Bulgarians. I’m sure Vince’s friends and family back home are thrilled that you two have decided to spend some significant time in Bulgaria. There are so many wonderful things to see and experience here and so many great people! I think a lot of the young Bulgarians have an unrealistic idea of what life is like in the states because they may only see the summer work seasons- do they really understand that average Americans struggle to survive each week too? I think some of them don’t realize that. I can’t say that is how your friend is thinking, I’m just speaking about people I’ve known. Who knows where life will take you and Vince, you may very well be back in the states faster than you planned but at least you can say you gave it try and had a new experience. I’m sure you won’t regret it 🙂

    • Thanks, Lauren. I just needed a few words of encouragement! Overall, I am more than excited to be moving to BG. Of course I have some fears, but I would be insane not to!

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