From a Bulgarian: peculiarities of life in Bulgaria

One of the advantages of studying in Ruse is meeting professors, lecturers from different countries of Europe. Last week we had two-day training in intercultural communication with Juliana Roth- a professor of Intercultural Communication at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Although, it lasted just two days I can, surely, say that she will be one of the professors I will remember when I think of my studies at Ruse University.

I have been living in Ruse for already six months. I think, we are already used to ‘just different’ life that I wrote about when I first came here. While I was preparing another blog post to summarize what is peculiar to Bulgarians, last week our guest professor introduced us a magazine- Vagabond published in Sofia where she had given an interview about cultural peculiarities of Bulgaria.

I thought it would be more precise if I introduced you her article since she is Bulgarian and she is a professor of Intercultural Communication.We- international students recognized almost all of them after reading it. Here is the most different one that can cause some confusion since it is the opposite of what we have been doing for years.

Not a single guide to Bulgaria omits the most popular aspect of Bulgarian nonverbal language: nodding your head means “no” and shaking it “yes”. The movements are not exactly the same as those commonly used in Europe, but to anyone who encounters them unprepared they can turn the world upside down. What guidebooks usually do not mention is that in settings where Bulgarians communicate frequently with foreigners they might adjust and nod or shake their head the Western way, when talking to you, and then turn around to the next client and revert to the Bulgarian nods and shakes. This double coding often produces real irritations and emotional insecurity. So, when a Bulgarian speaks to you, do not constantly nod because that means “No, no, no.’

This is the first hint you should remember if you ever decide to come Bulgaria. I had missed this point when I came here, so far I have had numerous misunderstandings with locals. (Well, it is still going on)

You can check the whole article here. Just a quick note, some of the mentioned peculiarities can be found in my culture too, which is not surprising since both countries still have something left from Soviet times.


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