Meet Clabbe Bjurström, Open Sofia’s Writer and Moderator of Foreigners in Sofia & Friends

One of our most important team members talks about his life in Sofia

Written and photos by Clabbe Bjurström, edited by Lina Jarad.


Born and bred in Sweden where I spent the first 28 years of my life until a car accident in 2005 that changed my life completely. I spent the better part of a year in rehabilitation, analyzing what kind of life I was living, and realized that I needed a change of environment.

I made the decision to move abroad in 2006 and have since lived in Czechia, UK, and Sierra Leone.

When I was living in Prague I was working within the Telecom industry. The company decided to move their backup office from Switzerland to Bulgaria, and suddenly I had an additional few coworkers that I worked with virtually. So in 2011 I decided to go on a holiday to Bulgaria and traveled around the country for 10 days. Then I came back to work remotely from the Bulgaria office for a while before returning to Prague. I got to know Sofia better and what I liked the most was the relaxed attitude, the fresh food, its closeness to the sea and nature.

Just before permanently moving to Bulgaria I had been living in Sierra Leone. When the Ebola outbreak hit Western Africa in 2014 I decided to return to Europe for a while. Even though I was familiar with Prague after living there for over seven years, I didn’t want to return there and decided to try something different and so moved to Bulgaria to continue my life here.

As many foreigners do, I started working in the customer service sector but after almost two years I saw my chance and started my own company where I now work as a sales consultant to my previous employer.

One thing I've learned after I arrived? How efficient the registration at the foreign police went and how laws are seen as mere guidelines, especially in traffic. I also wish I'd known more about the Balkan mentality before moving here. Coming from Sweden, I'm used to taking other people into consideration like waiting for my turn in lines for example. Here I find that most people just think about themselves and what they need. An example is a neighbor who decides to play his music as loud as possible at 02:00 on a weeknight without any consideration for the other people in the building. This is not just Bulgaria, but most of the countries in the Balkan block. 

An ongoing “problem” is that I always end up being given a bag at the store checkout when I'm shopping. This is because I'm still not accustomed to the head-nodding difference, so every time I'm asked if I want a bag I naturally shake my head sideways and say no, and still get a bag. Every. Friggin. Time.

Moving back to Sweden? I doubt it. Maybe for a short while so my daughter can learn Swedish properly but for now I remain here since my daughter is here, but time will tell. 

One recommendation I can provide to newcomers to Sofia is that it takes some time before you figure out how things work. More or less every item has its own store and they are not jammed together into larger stores as the Western Europeans are used to.