Imagine coming to a country where you cannot always rely on English and people speak a different language. Well, that is pretty normal when going abroad, right? But what about going to the country, where you are supposed to stay several months and you cannot even read? Here comes a bit of struggle that almost all volunteers in Bulgaria faced.
While trying to survive here, the absolute essential is to learn how to read Cyrillic, no one can avoid it. Even though it is not easy and for some time you will still find your reading skills on a level of six years old child, it is going to worth it. The good thing is that you can practice everywhere, in the shop, on the street, on the pictures of dead people glued on the walls (very Bulgarian thing, do not ask me why). However, another level of reading struggle comes, when you find out that there are capital and small letters and as well printed and cursive letters, which are all different and confusing. But once you are able to read them all, you feel like you deserve a medal.
Even though after this you are able to read and some words may make sense for you, you still cannot speak the language. Good news for people coming from Slavic language-speaking countries like me, there are many similarities. But even when Bulgarian is nothing similar to your language, it is good to know at least some words and phrases that can help you to survive, as not always you meet people speaking English on bus/train stations and some of them might sound angry for no reason (another very Bulgarian thing), but when you try to speak their language, they will try to help you in return.
I know that Bulgarian is not a commonly spoken international language and the only place where you can actually use it, is Bulgaria, but we should have in mind that we are foreigners in their country, they are not obliged to speak a different language, on the contrary, we are supposed to at least try to speak their language. As I am quite interested in learning languages and I am Slovak – which makes learning Bulgarian easier for me, I still keep on trying and learning.