We are expats for a reason. Either we are in love or we married a Bulgarian. Or both. Or we were sent here to do our job. Maybe we just want to live in this beautiful country, since the weather is a lot better than at home. It might be cheaper down here too. With a good pension from Western Europe, we might not have to worry about money much. Some of us see good business opportunities in Bulgaria. Others are stuck in this country, because of their half-Bulgarian children.
There are expats who know how long they will stay in Bulgaria, maybe due to a company assignment, which will end at a certain point. Others do not. It might be forever. Some of us might feel integrated, some might not. Also, there are expats who feel homesick, while others do not. Homesickness probably disappears after many years of living abroad, since the distance between us and our friends at home will increase automatically, the longer we are gone. At the same time, we make new friends as expats, in a different country.
There are aspects we might miss. As a German citizen, I do miss things which work better than in Bulgaria. For example, the German police will take two minutes to get to you, when you are in trouble, and they will actually help you. Whoever suffers a heart attack, will not have to wait for the ambulance for an hour and die as a result. Public transport is faster, mostly cleaner (depending on the city) and less shaky, but a lot more expensive.
On the other hand, there are aspects we are glad we got rid off. Germans are good at complaining. That includes me, but what I mean is complaining about “the economy”, their own economy actually, even though most Germans do not really have a reason to do so, in comparison. Also, Germans are good at coming up with rules, exceptions to rules and rules in the rule. They do exaggerate. Who needs that? On top of that, living in Germany is less exciting. The exotic aspect is missing. There is no adventure, compared to Bulgaria or other countries I have lived in.
All in all, I believe anyone can feel bad or good in any city or country, maybe with the exception of countries in crisis, such as North Korea or Syria. It surely depends on the individual’s situation. Also it might depend on how we approach our situation as expats. We can do so with open eyes and ears, or with ignorance. We can at least partially adapt, or try to impose our way of life on an entire country.
When it comes to criticizing political or other aspects in the country you chose as an expat, things are a little tricky. When we do, we might be seen as the arrogant Westerner, a smartass, who should keep his opinions to himself. But, Bulgarians who say so, often criticize the same aspects of their country themselves. It is probably a question of both quantity and quality. When we complain every five minutes, our native critics might actually have a point. When our complaints are unfounded, they do too.
Do we feel better in Bulgaria? When I try to include all aspects, and mix them with the reasons why I am here, the answer will be yes.
(Photo: copyright foreignersandfriends.com)