Cecile, France, in Bulgaria for 12 months

Cecile Martinelli

What is EVS?

Experimental and Vibrant Superadventure !

So for you EVS is an adventure?

Definitely! As for me adventure = risk, hazard, take the chance but also exciting unusual experience (yes, I ate a dictionary for breakfast!) And during my year I took some risks, I adventured myself in some work fields I didn’t know before, but also I hazarded myself on the roads, and I took the risk to show who I am.

What is Varna and Bulgaria to you?

Kind of home I guess. Bulgaria for sure, as I told it many time I can’t say that I’m Bulgarian, but I’m not a foreigner anymore there. I’m in France now, and I begin to realize that Varna was finally my home, I was saying all the time that I don’t feel comfortable there because of too many tourists, too hot, no mountains etc, but I was at home with my inhabits, recklessness…

So you were free there – in the meaning that you were able to be your true self?

Exactly, you know when you are in a usual environment, when you try to be yourself in an other way, people say „oh you changed” but usually in a negative way. Here, people told me that I changed , but not with bad intonation in their voices, more with kindness.

How did you end up in Bulgaria – by a mistake or it was on porpoise?

There are never mistakes in life… at least according to my opinion. So it was on purpose. After my internship in Germany, I wanted to live abroad again, but this time I needed a cultural shock, that I didn’t have there (even if it was at the Polish border and not the French!) So I decided to look for a project in East Europe, and I was hesitating between Moldova and Bulgaria… Why I choose Bulgaria? Now I know, before not really 😉

What does Varna mean to you?

A city that never sleeps. You can do many things the day and the night as well!

What do you love in Bulgaria?

I love the mountaiiiiins! The landscapes are just so amazing, I feel so free when I’m “loosing” myself on the Bulgarian roads.

Which is your favorite place in Bulgaria?

Wooow, what difficult question! I really love Rila, Veliko Tarnovo, Balkan mountains with Buzludzha and Shipka peak, but also Karandila peak (close to Sliven), Krushuna waterfalls, the roads on the “cherno more”* coast… I guess these are my favorite ones.

What do you do here? What is your work?

I was volunteer at Lecti Cultural Center. We planned my activities together: organizing cultural events on international topics, organizing information and intercultural events for students, supporting the adaptation and integration of foreigners in Varna. One of our partners is the University of Economics – Varna and once a month there was an international evening about one or several countries. Once a month, also in university, we organized a film evening from different countries: followed by very interesting discussions about the films.

Then during an EVS, you can develop a personal project, I developed two. One at the Center Francophone de Varna called “France seen differently” in order to present to French speakers some unknown French sites.

The second project is a board game, which you can try at Lecti Culture Center. It is about Bulgaria.

What do you like the most about Bulgaria?

The landscapes, again and again …and the feeling of freedom that I never found in France or Germany!

How were you surprised by Bulgaria?

I was amazed by Bulgaria, like many volunteers here, I didn’t have expectation about Bulgaria as I didn’t know this country at all. However ,I’m surprised by the gap between old and modern times. Here you have wifi everywhere, modern traffic lights etc. but also you have carriages on the highway ! I’m surprised and amazed as well, it’s really something I like here!

With what you can’t live/agree here? What disturbs you?

The racism. One of my flatmate was black, and it was really weird and difficult for me to understand how people were looking at him. And the racism is not only against black people, but also against “gypsies” as they said, and I don’t like to call them “gypsies” for me they are Bulgarian as well! My first day they told me “be careful when you are in this neighborhood, people are gypsies” and I felt bad. It’s not my education at all.

What do you not like in Bulgaria?

The shitty streets, because of them my shoes are broken. Somewhere in Bulgaria and my new suitcase is broken as well, but my stuffs are safe at my parents home, so it’s ok! And, for sure, dogs and cats everywhere, I had to say that!

But did you managed to get more used to cats and dogs?

Da**! For the anecdote, last week I was sleeping at a friend’s flat in Reims, and her cat slept with us. Nyama problem*** 😉

What will you bring home with you from Bulgaria?

A new spirit, I’m more peaceful, less nervous. I have the feeling that everything is possible, and you can be who you want, no matter what others are thinking! (And ok, my luggage was full of rakia, sirene, kashkaval, honey, lyutenitsa, even zagorka retro 😉 )

So you also loved Bulgarian food?

For sure, I already cooked banitsa, mishmash, potatoes with Bulgarian spices etc. for friends and family.

How do you feel about the climate?

I was suffering! Especially in summer, too HOT ! Incredible! And this winter I was missing the coldness. Only for the climate, I couldn’t be Bulgarian 😉

How did you deal with home sickness while being here?

I don’t have real home sickness, some sad moments for sure and I wanted to be at „home” but it was not really home sickness, as my home is my backpack, and this one was with me!

Maybe you had some reverse home sickness when you were missing not home but here?

Da, each time I’m leaving a place, I miss it, but I’m used to that because I’m all the time moving. I don’t manage to stay at the same place so long time, but still every time I’m crying a little when I’m leaving and when I arrive to a new place.

And how do you deal with it? How do you get over it?

By trying to find new projects, and a new place to live (please, don’t ask me what are my plans now, haha).

Don’t worry, I won’t. But I will ask what was your life outside of work?

The winter life and summer life were quite different. This winter it was more staying at home with friends, going to some bars, and having some „coffee after works”. This summer, my life was more outside, on the beach, or at the many events organized in Varna, and most of the time on the roads! Bulgarian but also the Balkans!

Have you found new hobbies?

Hitchhiking! Definitely!

You will do it in France now too?

I was already doing it a little, more for small distances, but I don’t know. For sure not from my child town, but I guess in the mountains. I’ll see.

How much have you involved yourself in the local cultural life and events?

I created a board game about Bulgarian culture, so I guess only with that I can say that I know Bulgarian culture, but also here in Varna, thanks to friends I went to many events like festival Radar, Futuro, International folklore festival, some exhibitions. I created international events also with my work. But, yes, this summer I tried to go often to events, to be involved in the city as I am usually when I live somewhere.

Have you fallen in love with something new here?

I fall in love everyday, so here I did it also ! I’m amazed by every single thing. I felt in love with sunrise on the beach, with friends, with the smell of the roasted chicken, with the landscapes, with the horses on the highway, with the baba in the streets selling fruits and vegetables, with the wool slippers… Ja my heart is big 😉

In one word describe – what is your future?

(Keep on) traveling !

Thank you very much!

* “cherno more” – Black sea; **Da – yes in bulgarian; ***Nyama problem – I don’t have problem


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