Linda came to Bulgaria with her family. Her husband Freddie owns a restaurant in Sofia. Linda works as a translator and is also one of the founders and chairwoman of the Council of Refugee Women in Bulgaria – a small NGO that supports refugees during their process of local integration.
“As a refugee you cannot get a visa and go wherever you like. We were content with the country that would give us security. The first thing I felt when I arrived in Bulgaria was peace and safety. People were so tolerant towards my family and me. People take care of each other here. I honestly really feel Bulgarian; the feeling comes from within.
At the beginning when I got here I did not know any Bulgarian words, so we decided to live in a Bulgarian neighbourhood, inhabited by local people. We let the kids play with Bulgarian children and we only watched Bulgarian television.
One time, when buying groceries, the cashier asked me about my kids. I told her in English: ‘I have two children - Sandra and George’. She asked in Bulgarian: ‘Momiche i Momche’? I told her: ‘No, Sandra and George’. She again said: ‘Momiche i Momche’. I asked my daughter to come translate and ask the cashier why she so badly wanted to change the names of my children. It turned out that ‘Momiche i Momche’ are the Bulgarian words for ‘girl and boy’.
One other thing that differentiates Bulgarians from the rest of the world is the way they nod ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I wanted to go to the city centre and there were five taxis waiting in the street. I went to the first one and asked: ‘to the centre?’ He nodded ‘no’. So I went and asked the second, he also nodded ‘no’. The same happened with the third and fourth. Finally the fifth driver answered in English and said ‘yes’. So I asked him: ‘Why didn’t the other drivers want to give me a ride?’ He answered: did they nod their head saying ‘no’? Well, that is the way we nod ‘yes’ in Bulgaria.”