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  How Not To Be an Expat Pt 14 June 2010





  How Not to be an Expat, Part 1 - 4 June 2010

  I have lived and worked in 5 different countries, so I feel that although I am no expert, I have at least be there seen it and done it. I am currently living in Southern Bulgaria, near the city of Kardjali. In fact if you have Google Earth, my house is here (41 25' 52.65" N 25 19' 42.66" E ).

I am not the only foreigner living in this area, there are a few more. I will not name them here, but describe them to you. If you have ever lived abroad, you will know these people. As they seem to be everywhere. You are a guest behave like one.

I get embarrassed to British, and not just because of what the nouveau riche of Essex have done to the beaches in Spain, I thought coming to Bulgaria would at least put off those who were unwilling to learn the language. How wrong I was. Even in my first month here, I was in a bank getting some money exchanged, an English woman (55-60) was at the counter in front of me, the bank clerk clearly didn't speak any English (why should she this is rural Bulgaria). The English woman is obviously of the opinion that everyone should understand English, and if not if you say things very loudly, you will eventually be understood. This then gets the attention of other staff, one of whom has probably done the equivalent of GCSE English, and eventually she manages to find out the information she was after (the exchange rate - this info is clearly provided in the window of the Bank). She then turns to her companion, and says 'they are all fooking idiots in here' and leaves. Our GCSE English bank clerk, had obviously learnt the more colourful English phrases, shakes his head, rolls his eyes, as if to say who do these people think they are! Translating the thanks, that had been given to a guest to their country who hadn't even learnt one word of the language. I was next in line. What could I do!

If you are reading this article with the intention of moving abroad, unless you are moving to one of those horrible 'Gated Communities' that keep the local riff-raff out (otherwise known as local residents). Here are some tips to making a success of living in another country. Rather than just being on a long holiday. I should point out, that I am not a retired person living on a pension seeing my days out where the weather is nicer. I am 35 years old, I just had enough of the way of life in the UK. There are many reasons for wanting to leave the UK, the climate is definitely one of them. I will tell you mine in a different article.

Communication is absolutely paramount; if you can't talk to people you will never integrate successfully in to your new adopted country. It took me nearly two years to get confident enough in Bulgarian to actually have a proper kind of conversation with people that I don't know. Although I didn't know it when I first moved here, and came armed with Bulgarian language paraphernalia, the Kardjali region of Bulgaria uses Turkish as the primary means of communication.

I am now learning Turkish as well, which is a lot easier to get to grips with than Bulgarian. I found the phrase book by lonely planet to be the most useful in getting started with a language; I have used it for Bulgarian, Turkish and Swahili to good effect. Do not be under the impression that just by living in another country you will magically pick up the language. There is no quick and easy solution, you have to work at it.

Bulgarian (Lonely Planet Phrasebook)

Turkish (Lonely Planet Phrasebook)






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