Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One Year after Bulgaria

At the beginning of January 2011 my wife and I packed our bags and boarded a Bulgarian Air jetliner for the final return trip to our home in Israel, after living and working in Sofia for two years. We left our Bulgarian apartment with mixed emotions, but we were eager to be back with family and friends and start the next adventures awaiting us.

Looking back, it’s hard to imagine that we lived in Bulgaria for two whole years, as the time flew by very quickly. We made many friends in Bulgaria, explored the country, discovered a totally different culture, learned to differentiate between the confusing letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, and have many memories, photographs, and souvenir magnets to remind us of those experiences.

In Bulgaria we were able to take an extended vacation from the strife of everyday life in Israel. We distanced ourselves from Israeli politics, from security concerns and the permanently stalled peace process, and from ethnic, religious, and economic tensions. Bulgaria had its own problems, including crime, corruption and politics, but as foreigners, we were not involved or concerned with any of that.

Living in Bulgaria in the status of ex-pats, we had the comfort of dealing with our surroundings in English, as that was the language used by our coworkers, even when they were native Bulgarians. We watched English language broadcasts on cable television, spoke regularly with our family and friends in Israel via an Internet phone hookup, and never had to worry about making ends meet in our daily lives, which is not always an easy task for the average Bulgarian.

Upon our return to Israel we had many challenges awaiting us, including returning to the Israeli work force and revitalizing our house. Especially enjoyable was the possibility to become regular fixtures in our young granddaughter’s early days, joining in her parents’ joy as she learned to crawl, then to walk and then to begin voicing her first words.

Professionally, I managed to meet the challenges of my job’s relocation to Sofia and I was extremely glad to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of working in a foreign country.

Creatively, I have made a conscious decision to keep Bulgaria close at heart, and my fiction writing is set in Bulgaria, a fascinating country that is slightly off the beaten track. I am hopeful that some of my affection for our temporary home will come across in my writing, of which you will learn more in the weeks to come.

You can read Jodie’s Farewell to Bulgaria post, dated just over a year ago.

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