Bulgeria – An Internship Abroad
There’s something that a well-traveled friend of mine likes to call “travel glitter.” According to him, one thing you’ll notice as you travel more is that in certain places you are much “shinier” than you are in others. For example, as a tall man of Arabic decent with light skin and dark features, he received plenty of stares in rural Iceland. I too received this treatment once I stepped off the plane at Sofia, Bulgaria: as an obvious foreigner you are regarded with a benign curiosity. It is as if their eyes are questioning, “Who are you, what do you do, why are you here?” There aren’t many reasons for travelers to visit, other than business.
As I reached out to locals and formed relationships I noticed the many similarities and differences between the American and Bulgarian mindsets, culture, and gestures. The most humorous of them has to be the contagious “head bobble.” Bulgarians shake their head for yes and nod up and down for no, so when dealing with a person from the U.S., they switch at the last second to accommodate. The result is a bobble-head movement that became hard for me to shake!
The internship itself was a unique opportunity because it gave me the privilege of working with local Bulgarians, U.S. agents, and other foreign agents. The culture of the workplace itself is unusual because of this and the fact that many employees both work and live together. The result is close ties between staff members: the Embassy is its own community.
My experience abroad was ideal and I must once again thank Mrs. Kylie Goodell for her recommendation. My advice for all QUEST students is that if you ever get a chance to spend extended time overseas, do it. It’ll change you for the better and you won’t forget your experiences any time soon.