Just go with the flow…
Introduction of Anna Kerezsi, content writer at Open Sofia
Written and photos by Anna Kerezsi, edited by Andrea Vushkova
Hey, my name is Anna, and I’m from Hungary. I have lived in Sofia for two years already. Currently, I am working as a Content Moderator at Alorica.
The idea of leaving my home country is a long story: I’d had enough of the daily routine and I needed a place to do something totally new. In June 2018 I decided to do a 12 month ESC volunteering in the Republic of Moldova. I would’ve loved to stay longer, but I didn’t manage to find a workplace with English. I really wanted to stay away from my previous life in Budapest, so one day I had the idea: just for fun, let’s type ‘Hungarian Language Jobs’ in Google! That’s how I realized that there are many support jobs in my language all around Europe! I applied for positions in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Bulgaria. Bulgaria answered first, and we had several interviews, a language check, a few exams, and they offered me a job from June 2019. That’s how I got here.
My first impression of Sofia was contradictory. I wasn’t prepared for the huge amount of concrete buildings, broken pavements, illogical constructions, minimum esthetics, and the lack of color. If you have ever been to Budapest you can understand my disappointment. But these were only the very first days. Later I started walking around, getting lost in the city center, and I totally changed my point of view. The most surprising and positive thing is that the prices are lower than in Hungary, the shops are selling more local products, the fruits and vegetables are brighter and tastier than what I was used to. I also fell in love with the mountains around Sofia, now I cannot imagine my life without looking at Vitosha every day!
I wish I had learned the Bulgarian language before I came here. But I had no time. I was in Moldova learning Russian and Romanian, and the idea to move here just popped up 2 months prior to my arrival. Good thing I could already read Cyrillic!
I’m not sure if anything funny happened to me because of language barriers or cultural differences. My nationality is not that ‘fancy’, people don’t know how to react when I say I am Hungarian. But I appreciate everyone who tries to pronounce ‘egészségedre’ (for your health, we say it as ‘cheers’ and ‘bless you’, and after having a good meal).
However, I do remember something funny: I had to learn very fast ‘Не разбирам български’ (“I don’t speak Bulgarian”) and ‘Не знам’ (“I don’t know”) because almost every single day since I moved here somebody would ask me something on the street. Maybe I look Bulgarian, or I have a good vibe, nice face? I don’t know. But for sure if I understand the question and I know the answer, I always try to explain.
My life changed a lot when I moved here. In the beginning, I focused on the job, I didn’t build friendships and I couldn’t afford a lot of things (because after volunteering I had to start from zero). Later I joined the Sofia Ladies International Choir and I started learning Bulgarian through English, and then I met the best teacher ever who is fluent in Hungarian as well. The first time I started making friends was during the VideoMaking WorkShop #1 organized by Smokinya Foundation in February-March 2020, then Covid restrictions came right after the final weekend.
I am one of the luckiest people because I could keep my job and get extra money for some months as well. I could attend several online courses, and revive old friendships from the past. In Hungary, I was an amateur actress from 2011 in a drama theater group, and thanks to Covid we started doing online projects, so I could rejoin from here! In the summer I traveled a lot but only inside the country. One of my best Hungarian friends came here to Kazanlak to be a volunteer which had a very positive impact on my mental well-being. I changed my workplace and I am in a relationship as well. My life here gets better and better every day, and I appreciate everything that life gives me.
I don’t think about moving back home, I couldn’t grow there, I wasn’t appreciated there. I don’t have the same mentality as the majority. I was already called a home traitor and anti-Hungarian because I live in another country. I feel better here, stretching my comfort zone day by day, learning from different people and different cultures, and I will stay until I can prosper.
My advice for everyone coming to Bulgaria is to go with the flow, let yourself be spontaneous, life will always point you to the path you have to walk on. Don’t worry and don’t over plan. Believe in yourself, you will always know the next step. It is coded inside us. We just need to listen. (Oh, and learn to read the Cyrillic alphabet as soon as possible!)