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Goodbye Bulgaria!

Sometimes, dreams and plans don’t always work out in the way that we hope they will and we have to rethink the next phase in our life and adapt to new situations. Many people emigrate to Bulgaria and in some cases ‘living the life’ doesn’t always work out in the way that we had planned; some families find the separation from relatives and friends to much  to bear, others find it difficult to find suitable work to support their lifestyle and some just can’t adapt to the laid back Bulgarian culture. Quest Bulgaria, caught up with one family who spent four enjoyable years integrating into  Bulgarian life, but now due to unforeseen family circumstances back in the UK, they must return.

In Need of a Change

Ian and Karen Foster from Preston moved to Bulgaria in 2005 with their teenage daughter Careene now aged 16 after seeing all about the country on popular TV show, ‘A Place in the Sun.’ Karen and Ian flew out to take a holiday and for Karen it was love at first sight.  The couple both had good jobs in the UK; Ian was an engineer and Karen a site manager at a garage. As well as daughter Careene, they also had two sons, Aaron 21 and Gavin 23. After the Bulgarian holiday the couple started to reflect that their life in the UK was taken up by their work and that they never seemed to reap the fruits of their labours. They were disenchanted with the climate and the rat race in general and soon decided to put their house on the market and move on. The Fosters with children Careene and Aaron bought a luxurious villa in Balchik on the Black Sea coast, Careene explains, ‘Gavin who was 19 at the time, had such a good job in catering in London that he decided to stay. He enjoyed his work and for him there was no reason to leave so he decided to just come out on holidays.’

Settling In

Karen and Ian loved the simple, relaxed way Bulgarians lived as well as the sun, the warm, friendly people and the low cost of living, but their view of Bulgaria was not shared by their children. Aaron enrolled in university for a course in Management, but after two years he returned to the UK to continue his further education there. Careene, who was 12 at the time of the move, also felt unsettled, ‘I hated it here, I felt I had left all my friends and I didn’t know the best places to go.’ Careene’s parents organised private language lessons for her to try and help her integrate and soon after they enrolled her into the Hristo Botev Grammar School in Balchik. She started in the 5th grade and was amazed at the difference in the mentality of the students compared to her UK counterparts, ‘My first impression of the class was everyone was so willing to learn.’


Bulgarian Life

Once Careene mastered the language, she started to enjoy Bulgarian life far more and then started to make friends and hang out at the in places but she always classed the UK as home. Karen and Ian had no trouble settling in. For them the issue was finding work and in 2006, they set up a real estate agency because they were getting so many requests for help in finding properties, builders and rentals. Through their work they made lots of friends and integrated well into Bulgarian life and if the truth be known they don’t really want to leave. Careene’s love of Bulgaria revolves around the beach and being able to speak the language fluently. She dislikes the fact that simple things are made difficult by the Bulgarians, people’s rudeness, the food (she misses fish and chips) and the fact that the winter season is so quiet here.

Returning to the UK

The Fosters are leaving this month to return home to Preston but the family are divided about the move, which has been caused by family illness back home. Careene however is looking forward to going back, ‘I can’t wait to get back, but Mum and Dad don’t want to go as they love the sun too much.’ The greatest benefit to Careene’s move is that she will be able to start college and finish her education much faster than she could in Bulgaria. She is unsure about what she will study, but has already looked into part time work using her Bulgarian language skills. Coming back to Bulgaria is a very big possibility for Karen and Ian, but the future for this is uncertain for Careene ‘I am not sure about coming back; I don’t want to find friends again then have to leave, but I will come back here for holidays. I have no regrets what so ever. I have had four great years and learnt a language better than if I was in school in the UK and I can say I have had the true experience of Bulgaria and I will always be thankful for that.’