As promised – new post is coming.
October 4th, the day when I went into the bus in Centralna Avtogara in Sofia. 36 hours later – I went out of the bus in my small Polish town. With a slight relief, but also… with a lot of nice memories and sadness. The longer I stay in Poland, the more I miss Bulgaria.
What I will put here might be surprising to everyone, especially Bulgarians who would read that. The ongoing opinion about Bulgaria is somehow negative and I don’t understand why is that. Ok, the country has a lot of troubles, there are things which are not perfect, but there is one thing I would miss the most.
If someone asks me what is the thing (and I might name only one) that I missed the most about Bulgaria I would say… the people. Yes, I know it’s not necessarily a thing, but you surely got my point. People of Bulgaria are a pleasant surprise, especially for the foreigners. I lived in Sofia, but I have the same impression throughout the whole country – from my perspective, the majority of people living in Bulgaria are in possesion of one thing that is missing in the modern world – big hearts (or as in one of my most favourite scenes of “Friends” – “full-sized aortic pumps”. If you are not sure what I mean, check the video below).
Living in Poland for 28 years made me believe that I would have to deal with a lot of sad and unhelpful people as it is in the Eastern Europe (yeah, stereotypes…). It’s like that in Poland unfortunately. I have also been a witness of many situations when Polish people were unfriendly to foreigners.
What I got instead? In 6 months of my life there I met only 1 (in words: one, in caps lock: ONE) unkind person. It was the girl in the shop at the subway station, she seemed unhappy that I bought one thing only and the value was 0,25 EUR (or 50 stotinki). Even though my Bulgarian sucks (my favourite sentence seemed to be “Govorite li anglijski?” which means “Do you speak English?”) – people seemed to be extremely happy when I tried to communicate with them in their local language. Yes, it was erratic. Yes, my accent was more Polish than Bulgarian, but yes – they liked it.
Bulgarians tend to say that they are complaining a lot and they might be unfriendly. I guess it is normal – instead of seeing good things in ourselves, we see those bad ones first. But… you don’t even know how nice it is when you fell on the pavement and out of nowhere, three people arrive to ask if you are OK. As I have some issues with my ankle, sometimes I lose my balance even when I walk on a straight road. The same happened to me on the bus station in Cracow, Poland. No one cared…
Of course, I am sure that not every single Bulgarian person is good. I have some problems with my landlord for example (he decided to sell the flat that I lived at… just “forgot” to tell me about that ;) The situation like that is common in Sofia though). Still, my impression is based on the “average” people I met, I am not speaking about politicians or CEOs of big companies – never met those and don’t want to do that.
Your first impression might be incorrect
Living in Bulgaria means a lot of new things for you. There is one tip that I would like to give you and the thing that actually might be the reason for not-so-great opinion about Bulgarians from some visitors. I have noticed that Bulgarian people are a little bit reserved at the beginning, but then – when the first ice is being broken, they are completely different people. I remember the small bakery in Evropeyski Sayuz subway station – there were 2 women there, one – young and the other one – slightly older. As I was a regular client, they remembered me and when I was buying my food they even asked how I am doing today. It was super-polite and even while my Bulgarian was limited – they always greeted me with a smile. So the tip is: if someone seems a little bit reserved at first and seems to be a little bit unfriendly – don’t judge them. If the same happens after they see you for the 5th-10th time, then yes – they might be unfriendly ;-) This does not apply to cashiers in T-market, they are always in their own small world, and it really does not matter if it’s 1st, 10th or 250th time :D
What is really nice about Bulgaria is that whatever happens – you are wished a good day or nice evening when you get out of the grocery store, restaurant etc. It seems to be so natural and it is another thing I absolutely love about Bulgaria. In Poland – it does not really happen in normal life situation. We just say “Do widzenia” which means “Goodbye”. I know that what I am writing might be awkward for many people here, but I never found wishing a “good day” common in the Eastern Europe.
Ok, so I suppose that you might ask why the hell I left Bulgaria? Except personal issues that have arisen very quickly, I did not feel comfortable being in the country and speaking such a little amount of the language. Simply – I did not feel secure and I had no idea how I would do in case I needed to do something unpredictable (e.g. call the police, call the lift company if I am stuck, call the ambulance etc.). So I came back with the possibility to return later, when I finally speak better Bulgarian.
As I am during some recruitment processes for the companies in various countries, please keep your fingers crossed. And to all Bulgarians – thank you for being so amazing, keep it up, you rock!
Have a nice day/evening,