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Teenage Expat In Bulgaria

 

I first moved here three years ago in January 2008. From a young age I had always been around different cultures and visited different countries, so I was very keen to go and live abroad.

I was sixteen years old when I came to Bulgaria with my parents and younger sister and I have thoroughly enjoyed this new and exciting experience.

Throughout the past three years, there have been parts that have been quite challenging and were a lot more difficult that I had initially expected, but suprisingly, the things I had expected to find difficult were actually very easy to deal with. It is important to everyone that plans on moving abroad, to remember that however near you are to your home country, you are still in a different place and you should expect to see a different way of living. I think that you can only ever truly settle in to a new country, once you have stopped comparing it with your life before in your home country.

When I first came here, I had just finished school and so I had no urgency to do anything straight away. The main thing in my mind was to get used to living in Bulgaria and to enjoy it. As I had only ever been abroad on a kind of holiday before this, it was hard to understand that I wasn't on holiday and that this was my new life, but for the first month I saw it as a long holiday.

After having lived here for a month, I started to realise that I had a lot to do if I was going to make a life here. At this point I had no friends, didn't understand Bulgarian and had no idea of what I was going to do now that I had finished school. Once realising all of these things that I had to do, I did question if I would ever be happy living abroad. Hoping that learning the langauge would help us to make friends, my sister and I began having Bulgarian lessons. Within two months, we had had many lessons from two different teachers and were still unable to say any basic phrases or words, we were only able to chant the alphabet and repeat grammar drills.

On the other hand, our parents were getting on really well with learning the langauge purely by communicating with the locals with the help of a phrasebook. Whenever me and my sister were invited to various Bulgarian gatherings with our parents, we were unable to communicate with anyone and would sit there completely confused, whilst our parents would chat away about daily life.

After two months of lessons we decided to quit them and learn by mixing more and using the local shops and bar, we quickly made friends and settled in and I found this method of learnig a lot more easy and enjoyable compared to hours of boring lessons. Initially when I struggled to communicate in Bulgarian, I was worried that I would never make friends or settle in, but breaking the ice with people and gradually learning words and phrases has helped us to settle in.