Sofia, Bulgaria – Kate Tingley (September 2010)
Without a doubt, Sofia is an up and coming place to be; full of fun back streets, underground bars, hot springs and gypsy markets as well as boasting hundreds of theatres, cinemas and galleries. It is in the midsts of joining the EU so has the best of both worlds. This is a city really on the cusp of becoming somewhere…
It has an interesting mix of cultures: religion is Bulgarian orthodox (a fusion between the Greek + Russian) + this entails some pretty stunning bits of architecture. On the whole however, this is an ex-communist country with bells on and it shows off the characteristic ugly square buildings and moody workers with pride.
Some typical prices in the centre:
Beer = Coffee/tea = 50-75 cents
sandwich = 1-2 euro
Loaf of bread = 50 cents
Soup = 1-2 euro
salad = 2-3.5 euro
Main course = 2-5 euro
Mineral water = 50 cents
Rent prices vary but I have a 1 bed apartment in the very centre and it costs 220 Euro per month plus 25 Euro for all bills.
Typically “native speakers” earn better money than the Bulgarians English teachers and teaching for International schools or European companies will pay better than teaching in a state school.
Who in Sofia?
Well … Bulgarians! Nice people although not particularly outgoing they are usually game for anything and have a dark sense of humour. The language is Bulgarian for which they use the Cyrillic Alphabet. Bulgarians are also the only known people in the world who shake their heads for ‘yes’ and nod for ‘no’… a bit tricky when you go to the dentist!
Also, loads of Turkish, Russian, Libyan people who are in Sofia to work.
There is alot of work teaching kids and rich parents will pay loads of money to ensure that their children have a good education. At this time it is particularly important because they are in the process of becomming fully integrated into the EU + everyone sees English as THE international language.
Where in Sofia?
Big companies. There don’t seem to be as many English teachers here as in other parts of Europe so it is entirely possible that recent TESOL graduates can get work with prestigious companies due to a lack of competition.
Check out British Council, International House and Excellence school (all of which pay the most sensible salaries). After this, it is worth putting out a google search and contacting everyone with an email + CV.
International Schools. There is quite a fashion in Bulgaria for international schools and it is very common for students to go to an English, French, Italian, German, Spanish or Russian school for their secondary education. For this, all of their lessons are in that language but they also often learn English on top of this (most ‘educated’ teens speak ~4 languages fluently). Therefore, when CV dropping, I would recommend checking not just for the English speaking schools! Although these do include the Anglo/American School and American College, both in the centre.
Thinking about it?
If you like the sound of it, best to come and have a look!
Squeak me when you’re on your way…