Recently I had read an article about a couple from Britain whom made the move to Bulgaria and some of their experiences here. There are many similar experiences that I have encountered in the past 5 years of living in Sofia, but there are also many differences. After spending 4 years in the U.K. and the other 4 decades in different parts of the United States I have found Bulgaria to be a splendid country to call home. Although living within the confines of a major city was never in my plans, my son and I have been able to adapt and to get along just fine. I was always told that life is what you make of it and the same goes when making a major location change.
For me the most difficult part of the transition still has to be conquered, and that is learning and being able to use the Cyrillic alphabet and language proficiently. The other hurdles had come and gone without much of an issue. I guess one of our advantages is that my wife is from Sofia, so this reduced a lot of potential problems that other expatriates encountered and added to the quick transition. The culture differences that are vastly un-common between the United States and Bulgaria take a little time to adjust to but are no problem. I believe that any issues that expats with the cultural differences are mainly self inflicted because some attempt to change the environment around them rather than adapting to fit in to a new one.
Meeting new people usually posed a problem for me because my drive to keep up with the rat race in the States never left much time for much of a social life and social time. This is another part of my life that has drastically improved since coming here. There has been numerous occasions where meeting new people has been the furthest issue from my mind, I have met people whom stop by to talk even though we don´t share a common language but getting our points across comes easily. Using the local stores and shops has also been a great way to meet the people in the neighborhood, finding most have the knowledge of the English language and appreciate the chance to use it. Since living here I have heard many versions or opinions about the people and the experiences such as customer service in various establishments. Thus far I can only compliment the people I have had the pleasure of dealing with.
Services from banks and shops to restaurants I have patronized, I have had a few to none encounters that I can really complain about. There are a few people I have met that do not like or agree with American politics (Which I can understand) and that is the only topic they know but that is common where ever you go. As a general practice I tend to stay away from politics and other discriminating conversations because view points and opinions will always be different.
During the past few years I have had the opportunity to work side by side with people from all over Bulgaria and all over the world, and as I can remember the negative experiences always involve other expatriates and not any of my colleges from Bulgaria. I think that these experiences reflect some of the changes outside companies bring to Bulgaria by trying to change the culture rather than adapting.
Over the years changes of location and surroundings have become one of the easier hurdles to get over and I accredit my experiences to the years spent in the U.S. Navy and having the opportunity to visit a vast number of countries and cultures and to having a family environment that is also open minded and multicultural. I enjoy meeting others who share the expatriate experiences and appreciate the countries that they have lived in together with their experiences here in Bulgaria. Bulgaria offers an abundance of beauty and historical wonders ranging from the picturesque country sides and snow capped mountains to ancient settlements while providing all of the activities anyone can ask for.
After all, no matter where one comes from or what future plans one may have, life is what you make of it. As many individuals have found that life in a beautiful country such as Bulgaria is much more than the change in life and culture that they find, it´s an amazing change in their state of mind.