MORE FAMILY ORIENTED
Zoë Holliday is a 30-year-old Briton, has a degree in philosophy and theology, and worked in green energy before moving to Sofia, in 2014, to get involved in the European Voluntary Service and a foundation for single mothers.
Have you experienced any special treatment because you are a foreigner?
Bulgarians are very interested in the fact that you are a foreigner. Sometimes, when I am sitting in a café, people would just come and start a conversation with me. I am very lucky that I've met a lot of Bulgarian friends who have invited me na gosti, or at their homes. I went to my flatmate's house in a village for Christmas. It was very nice, it was special for me to see what is beyond the surface in Bulgaria.
Have you experienced sexism in Bulgaria?
I don't think so. But when I go cycling, people often say "You're good at cycling for a woman," and
I say, "No, I'm just good at cycling, full stop."
Do you have more local or foreign friends in Bulgaria?
I have definitely more Bulgarian friends. This helped me to see more of the real Bulgaria, outside the bubble of the expat community.
Can you name anything which you consider specific for Bulgarians?
Compared to the UK, Bulgarians are more family oriented, they look after their families. It feels a lot better, there is a much closer connection. Bulgarians are also very proud of traditions and these traditions and customs, like exchanging Martenitsa, are still alive and thriving.
Do you celebrate any Bulgarian feasts?
For Christmas, in that village, I helped with the pig slaughtering. I carried chunks of meat. It was very nice, I gained five kilograms in three days. For Baba Marta, we did a very nice run for the refugee project.
Do you plan to stay in Bulgaria for a longer period?
I don't know. My project ends in June, but I wouldn't mind staying longer here. I feel there is much more to see and do, and many new people to meet.