Virginija Pupeikytė-Dzhumerova is Lithuanian. She works as a freelance journalist. Her husband is Bulgarian and they moved together to Sofia before two and a half years. Virginija has even wrote a book about Bulgaria and her experience living here.
Why have you decided to come to live here at first place?
- The main reason why I came to Bulgaria is because of my husband’s job. I didn’t plan to meet him and to marry a foreigner. It just happened. I am a journalist. I was working as a public relationship representative at the library in Zarasai. My husband was EVS volunteer in Lithuania. Then we decided together to move here before two and a half years. The funny thing is that I was an EVS volunteer in Bulgaria but I was already married to him. I was representing Lithuania for the organization “Infinite Opportunities Association”. This NGO works on EU projects and it fights for human rights.
What did you know about Bulgaria before you came to live here?
- Bulgaria is popular destination for Lithuanians. When I came for a first time in Bulgaria it was for a summer vacation and I spent a week in Balchik. But you can’t discover Bulgaria until you are living here. The project on which I worked in the NGO included going all around Bulgaria to meet with young people. I was just talking with them about human rights, discrimination, tolerance etc. So that was good chance for me to visit some unpopular places in Bulgaria. My husband is joking that I have visited much more places in Bulgaria than he did in his entire life. Sofia is not Bulgaria. I used this experience to write a book about Bulgaria, which it is published in Lithuanian.
Name your favorite places in Sofia?
- In general, the central walking area. I enjoy going to Borisova gradina during the spring or the summer for a walk. Also for me as a Lithuanian it is very nice that you have a mountain and you can see Vitosha from different locations in the town. My husband and I are really interested in good quality food and there are many good restaurants in Sofia which offer some amazing dishes and we love to visit them. The park in front of National Theatre is also very nice and it is always full of people. When I came here I was amazed by the fact that the night life is so active. In Lithuania everyone is going into a bar and he has his drinks inside while here people are outside in the park, lying on the ground and just having fun.
Is it difficult for you to understand, to learn or even to speak Bulgarian?
- When I listen to Bulgarian I understand almost everything but when I need to reply I am like speechless. It was a disaster when I started to learn Bulgarian. I have never studied Russian language and many people think that we speak Russian in Lithuania. No, that is not the case. We have our own language and it has nothing to do with Russian so I didn’t know the Cyrillic letters. When I came here it was nightmare. I couldn’t say to a taxi driver where I was because everything is written in Cyrillic. I used to go to lessons and now I can read the menu in a restaurant. But no I can’t have a normal conversation in Bulgarian. It’s better to say for now and may be after five years I will laugh at the current situation.
What is your Bulgarian favorite word or expression?
- There is one expression that I think is so typical for the Bulgarians and you just repeat it all the time. – “Няма проблем.” [Nya-ma pro-blem] (English translation: “There isn’t any problem.”).
What have you discovered as unique feature in Bulgarian character?
- Well, the body language is different. It took me sometime to realize it but I notice that even I am shaking my head for “yes” or “no” sometimes like Bulgarian. Of course, your temper is much hotter. My husband used to call me “the frozen Lithuanian”. Sometimes when I am not in a good mood or even if I am I look like I am angry because I don’t smile and I am just sitting and listening. This means that I am concentrated and I do care about what you are saying. But this is a huge cultural difference. Another thing is that it is hard to make me mad about something small but you show that you don’t like something so emotionally so that everybody knows it. I am already used to so many things and nothing really surprise me anymore. I just know what to expect and every difference it’s just regular for me now.