Благодаря Bulgaria!

When I boarded my flight from Germany to Sofia almost five months ago, I was nervous, excited, but above all terrified. What was I thinking when I signed up to move to a completely unfamiliar country where I didn’t know the language, the culture and, to be honest, that I could not even locate on the map just four weeks prior?

Today I can say that the five months I spent as a volunteer in Blagoevgrad, a city in the south of Bulgaria, were definitely one of the best times of my life! I visited countless beautiful places, got to know a new culture and made friends from all over Europe – it is impossible to describe even a fraction of what I experienced in one article.

One of the most amazing parts of my EVS was being part of an international community. I got to meet people from all parts of Europe, I learned about their cultures and I am already planning to visit some of them. We spent countless Thursday evenings discussing topics from sustainable shopping to the Harry Potter universe. We explored Bulgaria, traveled to Turkey, Macedonia, and Romania, hosted amazing parties, jam sessions and explored Blagoevgrad, my “hometown” for the last couple of months, together. Never in my life have I met such an open, easy-going group of people. I developed amazing friendships with people I would have never met if I would have stayed at home. Being with people that have different cultural backgrounds and many of whom are at completely different stages in their life helped me to broaden my horizon. Even though it is really sad to say goodbye to them now, I am so glad I got to meet them.

I am also thankful for the opportunity to take part in some amazing projects during my EVS. I had various tasks – from volunteering at a festival to giving German classes. Therefore, I could improve different skillsets. It was especially nice to interact with the locals and experience the impact of my efforts first-hand. During my volunteering, my coworkers also became dear friends, helping me out with everyday tasks and teaching me about Bulgarian culture. They always made me feel welcome in their country.

Lastly, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to live in Bulgaria. In my five months here, the natural beauty of the country never ceased to amaze me. The mountains, canyons, the dry South as well as historic city centers with the charming traditional houses amazed me countless times. I will surely miss staring out of the window during every bus ride, being completely puzzled by the natural beauty unfolding in front of my eyes. I am also thankful for all the kind locals I got to meet – even though there were some language barriers, we always understood each other eventually. And for my Bulgarian friends – I miss them so much already!

Of course, my EVS was not just fun all the time. There were times when I was sick, when I had a really bad day or when I just missed my friends and family. Sometimes I was not satisfied with my work, I wanted to communicate in my native language or just wanted to see some familiar faces. And, to be honest, Bulgarian cities can be quite depressing, especially on rainy days.

But overall, my good experiences far outweigh the couple of bad days. In the past five months, I created memories and friendships that will hopefully last for the rest of my life and I grew so much as a person. I am so glad that I had the courage to go on this adventure, that I got on this plane to this formerly strange and now beloved country – I am fully convinced it was the right decision.

Благодаря Bulgaria, I will never forget you!

Lena

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