Thursday, June 6, 2024

Relocation to Bulgaria at Age 52? Here’s What Happened Next.

My boss called me into his office one day toward the end of 2008 and informed me that my job was being relocated from Tel Aviv to Bulgaria. If I didn’t agree to relocate, someone would be chosen to replace me. I thought it was too late in my career to consider an offer of relocation, so this took me by surprise.

I told my wife that we needed to talk.

At the time, I was a division manager in an Israel-based company providing marketing and support services in the online gaming sector. I had been working at the company for four years. “We have one week to decide whether to relocate,” I told my wife.

Being forced to make a life-changing decision in such a short time was the deciding factor. If we had more time to think about relocation, we would have probably rejected the offer. After all, my wife and I had aging parents to care for and we couldn’t see being away from our children, even though they were already adults. And what would we do with our house? Our cats?

Bulgaria. We had never even considered traveling to the country on a vacation, less moving there to work. In a quick, somewhat impulsive decision, we accepted this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I relocated to Sofia in January 2009 and my wife arrived three weeks later, in the midst of a ferocious snowstorm. Our new lives were about to begin.

Working in Bulgaria, Touring in Bulgaria

All my tasks and responsibilities as a division manager moved to Bulgaria with me. But now, I was managing my team in Tel Aviv remotely from Bulgaria.

My coworkers in Sofia were Bulgarians, but everyone spoke English in the workplace. They were all much younger than me – the age of my children. They spent their nights at Sofia’s bars and clubs, and their weekends on the ski slopes in winter, and on the Black Sea beaches in summer. My wife and I utilized our free time to explore the country.

We visited the picturesque villages. We learned about Bulgaria’s colorful culture and history. We toured Plovdiv and Varna, and the famous Rila Monastery. We dined on nutritious Bulgarian cuisine and made many new friends. And all this without learning anything more than basic Bulgarian.

And then before we knew it, our two-year contract ended, and it was time to return home.

In My Writing, I Return to Bulgaria Every Day

After resuming my job in Israel, I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about Bulgaria. But I soon found that I was able to return to Bulgaria every single day – in my writing. I grew up with the dream of becoming an author. Even today I write all the time. And it was my writing about Bulgaria, based on my experiences there, that really got my creative juices flowing.

I published my novel Valley of Thracians (January 2013). The book is a suspenseful tale of a Peace Corps volunteer who goes missing in Bulgaria, and of his grandfather who launches a search for him against all odds. My second novel The Burgas Affair (published in Bulgarian in 2016 by Ciela, and in English in 2017) is a fictional account of the aftermath of the 2012 terrorist bombing in Burgas, in which five Israelis were killed in the blast, along with their Bulgarian bus driver.

Rakiya – Stories of Bulgaria

I am proud to announce the publication of my new book, Rakiya – Stories of Bulgaria (GenZ Publishing, June 17, 2024). In the eleven stories of Rakiya, you'll meet a mother pickpocketing tourists in order to support her daughter. An elderly war veteran ashamed of his actions during the Holocaust. Two brothers hunting a killer bear. A Syrian refugee working in a Sofia bakery. A femme fatale disappearing at an international writers’ conference. And two neighbors competing to see who makes the best alcoholic drink.

In Rakiya you'll hear the voices of native Bulgarians as well as see the country through the eyes of those visiting Bulgaria for the first time. You'll experience Bulgaria's unique rich history and traditions and explore the country's picturesque villages and stunning nature. You'll get a virtual taste of Bulgarian cuisine topped off with the country's traditional alcoholic drink – rakiya.

If I had not accepted the relocation offer and had not worked for two years in Sofia at age 52, I would never have become a published author!

Order your copy of Rakiya – Stories of Bulgaria today!

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