Stories shared by immigrants who are living in Bulgaria.
These videos are based on the outcome of the project “Short Stories, Big Changes”, implemented by Ungdomsfronten in cooperation with the International Foundation for Y-PEER Development, CET PLATFORM ITALY and migration_miteinander e.V., realised under the Key Action 2 – Strategic Partnerships in the field of Youth, within the Erasmus+ Programme and funded by the Swedish National Agency. The project has been focusing on social inclusion and integration of disadvantaged groups through public narrative, storytelling and advocacy tools.
“I love my life here in Bulgaria!” – Arthur
Arthur is from France and has been living in Bulgaria for 1 year now. Here, he is working two jobs, the first in customer support and the second as a local guide for French people. Arthur had the dream of living abroad after graduation and found a job in Bulgaria, and without knowing much about the country he moved immediately. It was quite challenging for him at the beginning due to the language barrier and the Cyrillic alphabet: “At the beginning I was not understanding anything, it was like I moved to another planet! […] I had to learn Bulgarian very very fast in order to survive here and also to meet new people.” According to Arthur, there are a lot of events and opportunities to meet new people in Sofia. For him, finding an apartment was an easy task, but dealing with Bulgarian administration in order to get residency was quite a challenge: “It was very hard to be in confrontation with the real Bulgarian administration, […] but I managed to do so with some help”. Arthur sees Bulgaria as a very calm and chill country, in his words, “it’s the dolce vita of the slavic countries”. He also praises the cuisine, nice weather and the amount of places to explore and see.
“Bulgaria is an extremely beautiful country. It has amazing landscapes and it is pretty easy to explore it.” – Joana
Joana is from Portugal and she has been living in Bulgaria for three months. She is currently a volunteer from the European Solidarity Corps. She has noticed that the locals like hosting people in their homes. Often they would cook your favourite meal or give you a gift and do their best to make you feel at home. Volunteering has taught her many things such as how to survive alone in a foreign country where she doesn’t speak the language. For this reason, she began to learn the Cyrillic alphabet which is quite the difficult part for foreigners. She mentions that working with the organisation has also unlocked the humanitarian side in her. The visible change in herself and in other people gives her purpose to continue with the activities. After volunteering, she plans to look for a job in Bulgaria and continue living here. Joana adds, “This country has been so nice to me. So far I have met so many amazing people and I feel there‘s so much more left to explore, so many mountains left to climb and rivers left to swim in and I want to take all this experience.”
“Student life in Sofia is amazing!”
Sami is from Syria and has been living in Bulgaria for 15 years. He is studying Arabic language, and dreaming of being a translator. Sami stated “My difficulties were to find what I love” and “Now I find out what I love is to translate with Arabic.” When he arrived in Bulgaria, he was hoping to make friends and now he has close people who help him learn the language and become more fluent.
His message to the people who want to come to Bulgaria and have their education fairfield is: “You can have a lot of opportunities here. When you get to the university you have a lot of doors you can open, you can meet wonderful people and yourself. Just have fun. Bulgaria is a very wonderful and warm country. ”
“I’m able to give working space to other refugees that are looking for a job.” – Silsila
Silsila is from Afghanistan and has been living in Bulgaria for 8 years. “It’s difficult to start your life from the beginning”, Silsila mentions. She has encountered different kinds of discrimination quite often, but after she started learning the local language, it gave her confidence and helped people to accept her more. She currently works with various organisations and NGOs that deal with refugees. Since she has gone through the asylum process herself, she knows what other people are going through and wants to help them. Six years ago she had the opportunity to open her own business, which makes her feel more integrated in society. Silsila states, “It doesn‘t matter if you are coming from Asia or some other European country. Just be yourself and be kind to society. Be respectful because all the time if you respect people people will respect you at the same time”.
“They are very friendly to me as a foreigner as an Afghan” – Qais
Qais is from Afghanistan and has been living in Bulgaria since 2016. He was seeking asylum and the process was challenging. After receiving asylum from Bulgaria, he shares: “But the good thing in Bulgaria is that after three months of your stay when you joined in the asylum seeking process you are allowed to work.” Another difficulty he went through was finding a job, yet his dedication led him to find one. He met kind people from diverse humanitarian organisations in Bulgaria and they helped him to get a new job. Since 2016 he has been working as a translator in an international company. He states, “I love this job. I have been doing this job for like 7 years”, and adds, “I‘m quite happy and I feel quite integrated with Bulgaria.” Concerning the challenges, he mentions that he had some cases of discrimination, yet he doesn’t think that the entire society should be judged on them. Qais is resilient and strong after facing unjust situations and he clearly mentions, “Discrimination to be honest made me stronger”.
– Narrated by Maria Dimitrova