Meet Irina Temnikova, Open Sofia’s Writer and IT adviser

Our team member talks about her love for Bulgaria

Written and photos by Irina Temnikova, edited by Lindsay Martin.


My father is Russian, my mother is Bulgarian, and I am a Bulgarian too (born in Sofia). Over the years I have lived in several other countries - Russia, Italy, Luxembourg, the UK, and Qatar. There, I was naturally part of organized international communities, when they existed.

I have also traveled for short stays to many other countries as a tourist or for work (mostly conferences). After all these trips, I keep in touch with many friends from all around the planet Earth. 

Due to my internationality and background as a linguist, I am naturally connected to the Sofia international community. I speak several languages fluently (Russian, Italian, English, French) and know expressions in several others (e.g. Chinese, Basque, Arabic, Romanian, Polish, German). 

One of our most important team members talks about her love for Bulgaria

The most surprising and unexpected things since coming back to Bulgaria after so many years abroad are:

  1. Whatever I have heard about Bulgaria and coming back wasn't true - it turned out that you make your own experience. 
  2. I have changed a lot because I learned a lot of real things about the world, myself, and other people. Because of this, I started doing what makes me more relaxed and comfortable. This surprised me, as I thought I’d learn the most by traveling. However, it turns out that what I needed (and apparently what everybody naturally needs) - is to stay at home.
  3.  It also turned out that traveling makes me feel stressed and less comfortable.

People should know that, in essence, it is the same everywhere -- most foreigners have similar kinds of experiences, surprises, complaints, parties, communities, and community organizations everywhere. Of course, there are country-related specificities (those specific things which we learn or decide to complain about :)). And there are also similar things, which locals encounter when they go back. And also - it is up to you if you listen to what other people tell you about a place or not - you will anyway create your own experience. For example, - I most frequently encountered smiling, nice people here, which was different from what I had been told about Sofia and Bulgaria.

So far, I find Bulgaria the best place I’ve lived. And I love it here. I could travel only for a short time in other countries, but I’d really like to stay here.

What would I advise a newcomer?

  • Connect to the Foreigners in Sofia & Friends Facebook Group. Check the articles and links posted on the Open Sofia website. 
  • I suggest learning Cyrillic and a bit of Bulgarian, as not everybody speaks English (or French, or Spanish, or Italian, or Russian).
  • You may encounter things that you are not used to. But this is what living is for. And, as it happens everywhere - everything you see around you has been created by people for valid reasons. Also, whatever you read or hear - what you see around you reflects who you are - so what you personally encounter may differ. 
  • Bulgarians in general and Sofia people are cool, as are people everywhere :). We have great mountains around Sofia to go hiking. We also have quite real vegetables and fruits (which lack in certain countries). So, just breathe deeply and enjoy.