When and where did you work abroad? What was your position?
I’m a 21-year-old girl from Bulgaria in 2011 I went to work in the UK with a program that sends Bulgarian students to go and work in the agricultural sector. My position was as a seasonal harvest worker and our main responsibilities were to harvest, crop, pick and plant fruits and vegetables.
What made you want to work abroad?
I’m not going to lie, we all work for money, but it’s also been my dream to visit England ever since I was a young kid. I’m very interested in everything about the country and it was a real pleasure working there!
How did you finance your trip abroad and did you find any creative solutions to stay on budget?
I had to work really hard here in Bulgaria and only after about a year and a half did I manage to save up enough money for taxes, travel and pocket money. Saving up beforehand made the trip much easier, and I actually managed to save up some money while I was in the UK.
How did you deal with the cultural divide in the workplace?
My group was made up primarily of Bulgarians, but there were two English people and one Scottish person as well. When we asked our boss why he hired so many Bulgarians he said: “It’s because you are really hard workers!” My language skills ddn’t actually improve too much while I was abroad, simply because most of the people I worked with were Bulgarian. But I've always been interested in the English language and have been studying it my entire life. Actually, this summer I worked at a hotel in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria that had only English tourists and I think that actually helped with my English more than being in England!
The thing that impressed me the most was how charming, warm, nice and friendly the English people were. Whoever I spoke to was very helpful and reassuring. It was a big change from Bulgaria, where it seems that people are generally grumpy and a little anxious. English people were completely different!
What did you miss most about home?
Honestly? I really missed the food! Not that British food was bad or… it’s just that Bulgarian food is amazing! There were so many dishes and snacks that I missed. Before arriving home I told my mother that I wanted at least four or five of my favorite dishes prepared as soon as I returned.
What is your number one tip for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps by working abroad?
Trust your instincts! Always be smart and careful.
What was the biggest challenge in adapting to your international work environment?
I had to force myself to become more and more patient. I became even more stubborn and hardworking than I was before. Sometimes I have a temper, and I really learned to control it while I was away!
What made your work experience abroad a success?
Well I’ve earned enough money to pay for the trip, and I was able to buy great things while I was there and overall I think it was one of the best things ever to happen to me! We spent most of our time on the farm, but on our days off we usually went shopping in town (Hereford).
What are your future plans for going abroad and for your career?
My plan is to finish my studies here in Bulgaria, then maybe go to the UK and finish a master’s degree in psychology there and hopefully stay there and find a job in my field of interest. I'm also planning on going to the USA next year.
Beloslava’s travel abroad situation is slightly different from most of our other contributors, in that she hails from an Eastern European country and is traveling abroad to English-speaking nations to gain experience. Beloslava already has a good command of the English language, and is planning on spending time in the US before applying for graduate school in the UK. We recommend that Beloslava further her international education by taking a working vacation to another area of the world – perhaps Asia or North Africa. Adding this type of cross-cultural experience to her resume will prove to graduate programs and future employers that she is highly adaptable and capable of communicating across cultural boundaries. Finally, if Beloslava carries out her goal of pursuing a master’s in England, she’ll have access to many low-cost flights and train services to explore the rest of Europe and beyond.