Bulgarians returning to Bulgaria

Meet Pavel who came back after studying and working abroad

Written and photos by Pavel Ivanov, edited by Scott Green


I am originally from Sofia but I have spent a few years abroad – I did my university degree in the UK and then worked for 2 years in Belgium. After returning from Brussels, I spent 2 years in Sofia, and my employer at the time sent me on secondment in Varna in August 2014. Later they offered me the opportunity to move to the office in Varna, I accepted and arrived here on 9 November 2014. As soon as I landed I realized the summer was over and I had to take a different approach to life in Varna. 

Not knowing anyone here, I decided to look for the expat community in the city - something I had previously done in Brussels. Surprisingly, there was no such thing on any known social network, so I decided to create one. After a quiet first year, the snowball effect came into action and our Facebook group started growing exponentially. 

We are trying to stay focused and maintain the group as a tool for socializing and information sharing. I think, so far, we are doing pretty well. The community has become pretty big, so I hope our cooperation with the Open Sofia Foundation, and Open Bulgaria will help us organize valuable news and information in a straightforward and easily accessible way.

Varna is the seaside capital of Bulgaria, a decent-sized city, yet anyone who considers moving here should keep in mind that it’s a tourist destination with its high and low seasons. Therefore, you will have to adapt to very eventful springs and summers and (seemingly) quiet autumns and winters. I had not accounted for that before moving here, so I was caught by surprise arriving in November. Seven years later, however, I do enjoy Varna’s calm and peaceful winters.

If you are totally unfamiliar with Bulgarian culture, be advised locals here shake their heads for a “yes” and nod for a “no”. As a Bulgarian, I have been in awkward situations several times during my stints abroad. It is important to pay attention to the facial expression of the person you are talking to, and then you will be able to tell if they agree or disagree.

I don’t have any future plans for moving to another country. I have already lived abroad and in my opinion, there is no “perfect country or city”. You just have to find the place with the most “pros” for you and be ok with its “cons”.

My piece of advice to a newcomer in Varna is that the city is a foreigner-friendly place, so just have fun. Don’t focus on the things you don’t like here and just enjoy the sea views.