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How to Humiliate Yourself in Bulgaria

Bulgaria Student Work
by Dayana Aleksandrova Oct 29, 2015

Sleep with the AC on.

If mom catches you doing that, you’re in for a long lecture on how ‘your waist will get a cold’ and you’ll ‘become sterile.’ Just turn the damn thing off, okay?

Refuse food when it’s offered to you.

Doesn’t matter how gross shkembe chorba or fries cooked in mas (pig lard) sounds. When grandma sets up a trapeza, you eat and you ask for seconds.

Learn Bulgarian from your local friends.

Don’t be a fool. Us mischievous Bulgarians love to mess with foreigners and will teach you every bad word you come close to pronouncing correctly. You’ll be familiar with “mamka mu!” (damn it), long before we even teach you zdrasti (hello). Be careful, don’t you dare talk to grandma with that mouth!

Wear pajama pants in public.

This is the ultimate fashion/social suicide here. I understand that other countries value comfort above all, but if you are spotted wearing plaid pajamas or, God forbid, havliena pijama down Vitoshka, you will immediately be extradited to pariah land.

Assume that Azis is our national celebrity.

It’s true, this chalga icon known for his platinum blonde hair and frequent gender changes has been a top selling artist for years. Inspired by Rihanna and the Victoria’s Secret angels, Azis is famous for his outrageous shows where thigh-high leather boots, whips and shock collars are the norm. But he is far from an accurate national representation. If you want to see some real Bulgaria celebrities, google Dimitar Berbatov, Grigor Dmititrov, Valya Balkanska and the all-time favorite, national hero Vasil Levski.

Get drunk off of one rakiya shot.

Ah, rakiya. The sweet, fruity elixir, powerful enough to cure any disease, lift your spirit and transport you to a whole new dimension of intoxication if you’re not careful. Seriously, don’t be that guy. Grandma could drink you under the table.

Call us “commies.”

Long story short, yes, the Russian General Aleksandar Batenberg and his troops helped free us from Ottoman slavery, and yes, Bulgaria was Russia’s ally in WWII, but the “communist” party of Bulgaria hurt us badly by seizing private land in Godech and apartments in Sofia, among other crimes. Please, be more mindful of this sensitive historic relationship.

Show up na gosti (empty-handed).

Gotta mind your manners when you are in a country renowned for its hospitality. A nice kozunak would be an excellent dinner party gift, or perhaps a box of assorted Svoge chocolates.

Not know what language we speak.

You’d be surprised to see how many tourists pass through, believing that just because we share the Cyrillic alphabet with Russians we speak the same language. We actually have our very own Bulgarian language, which prides itself on being impossibly hard to learn with its glagoli, spomagatelni, ю, я and ь.

Ask if we’re in the European Union.

Da, we’ve been on team EU since 2007! How else did you think you were able to enter the country by just flashing your ID? Our development may have been stalled by the Soviet Union era, but we are very much Western Europe-oriented and rapidly growing our presence on the continental scene.

Think we’re a tropical country.

Just because you went on vacation to Chernomorets in August, that doesn’t mean that the weather is 30°C and beautiful all the time. Winters on Buzludzha are brutal with temperatures well below zero. On the other hand, fall in the Rodopi Mountain is to die for, with its scenic hiking routes; and spring in Bistritsa is like no other with its luscious woods, waterfalls, and starinni (quaint) houses.

Try to master horo the first time.

Attempt Boryano, Boryanke and you’ll most likely look like a drunk hen (piyana kokoshka). It takes dedication to master this energetic, traditional dance, so just hold on tight to your partners’ hands. Once you take down the proper steps, crosses and tiny jams though, you will be the most-beloved foreigner to ever enter mehanata.

Ask us why our national cuisine is Greek.

For historical reasons, the land that is Bulgaria today has been influenced by our neighbors Greece and Turkey (thanks a lot, Alexander the Great). Unsurprisingly, our food is just as eclectic as our 1334-years-old culture. Bulgarian cuisine has adopted the Turkish lokum and halva, and the Greek mousaka and baklava. That being said, we do have our very own distinct cuisine, producing excellent feta cheese (known simply as “cheese”), as well as kashkaval, luytenitsa, and med.

Think that chalga is our national music.

Just like our melting pot cuisine, popular club music known as chalga has Arabesque origins, using tambourines, trumpets, accordions, fiddles and šargija. This is a popular trend of clubs; however, we have many other genres such as hip-hop, repped by Upsurt, Ustata, and Lora Karadjova, as well as pop, nicely done by D2, Ostava, and KapuZma.

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