My decision to move to Bulgaria was received with mixed reactions by many people. Probably the most common response I heard was “Why would you choose Sofia over London?” And I suppose this is a fair question, after all, London has the reputation of being one of the greatest cities in the world! Let me first make it clear that my move to Sofia was absolutely by choice. I had a good job in London, as did my Bulgarian boyfriend, so there was no pressure whatsoever to move to Sofia. But, being someone that loves to travel and work in different countries, when I see an opportunity I want to give it a try. After all, what is there to lose? Worst case scenario was, if I didn’t love life in Bulgaria I would go back to the UK, or maybe even somewhere new, there’s always work available if you look hard enough and are willing to travel.
Once I arrived in Sofia it didn’t take me long to feel at home. Bulgaria is that kind of place, the people are warm and friendly and you immediately feel like you belong. In addition to feeling at home I also quickly discovered the incredible amount of beauty here and that was probably the biggest surprise. I wondered why this beautiful country wasn’t being shouted about by the world … why don’t people know about all the beautiful places here? Following this there was something else that surprised me, in fact it saddened me. Many Bulgarians I met would ask me why I chose Sofia over London and they would then tell me that they can’t wait to leave Bulgaria. Some of them were even already making their plans to head to the UK or other parts of Europe.
Now, don’t forget, I’m a traveller and I would never discourage someone from wanting to leave their country to explore the world and gain experience, in fact, I highly recommend it! What saddened me though wasn’t the fact that they wanted to leave to do this, these people wanted to leave forever. They told me they feel like Bulgaria has too many problems that can’t ever be fixed, and this is very, very sad.
Fortunately, I’ve also met many Bulgarians who see things differently. Take Nina for example, she is a Bulgarian who has travelled and lived abroad but she has returned to Sofia because she sees the great potential that Bulgaria has. She is constantly working hard to promote Bulgaria and she truly believes in her country. I think the reason we are able to share such great information here is that we see things from the point of view of both the foreigners and locals. Ask us will things here change quickly, and we’ll say probably not. Will it be easy? I doubt it …
But things will change and we can help make a difference. When Nina and I talked about creating a manifesto for Bulgaria we wanted to include all the positive and wonderful things that Bulgaria offers. We’re not naive and we know there are problems here but show me a country that has no problems! Even that magical place called England has more than its fair share! There are enough people talking about the problems in Bulgaria already, we are optimists and we want to shout about all the great stuff instead.
So you’re probably thinking how can we all help if we’re not politicians and we have no real power to make any changes?
Well, we each have a responsibility for our country, our home. If we all do small things, together we make a big difference. Keep your streets clean, be good to your neighbours, tell people you meet about all the wonderful things in Bulgaria. Encourage people outside to come here to visit, or even stay! If you leave Bulgaria to study or work abroad then do it with excitement and passion but keep in mind that you can come back. While you’re away, tell people about your home and give them reason to want to visit it. More tourists = a stronger economy. One day you can bring all that knowledge and experience you gain back to your home country and you can make a huge difference.
I am proud to be British and I do love my country, but the UK has enough great publicity. Bulgaria is now my home and while I am here I want to do everything I can to make a difference.
So, please don’t give up hope and abandon this beautiful country, Bulgaria needs you!