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It’s not only here, but it’s spreading fast like a parasite!

We got the first one in November 2008, and in February 2009, we already had the second one on that very same boulevard. Then, one opened by the seaside in Burgas, and today I noticed two at the same mall, The CarreFour Mall! That’s scary!

Will the diluted, tasteless coffee and the sugar-filled frappes replace the old-fashioned coffee places in Sofia??

Sometimes I don’t like globalization. I hope it never gets as bad as in the States. I don’t want to see one Starbuck on every corner in Sofia.

The expensive and pretentious coffee shops are the complete opposite of what Bulgarians understand by “having coffee”.

Is the time of the quaint little neighborhood cafe over? I miss its smell of coffee and cigarettes.

Will I ever see my mother drink home-brewed black coffee while chit-chatting with a girlfriend on the balcony?

Have the days when my grandmother’s friend would tell fortune by the Turkish coffee-grounds ended?

Will I ever be tempted by somebody’s innocent invitation “Let’s drink a cup of coffee…” again? Or will it have to be “Let me buy you a grande skinny soy dolce vanilla late with cream from the mall, mind you the $3.”


In February 2010, Nova Television made a short series about the life of an American woman living in Sofia. The journalist Pavel Vladimirov conducted an experiment: can an American live comfortably on 400 lev, or about 300 dollars,  which is more or less the average monthly salary here.

The subject of this experiment is Carolyn Emigh, also known as Karolinka, an American  who came in Sofia in 2008 as a Fulbright scholar. She currently teaches at my beloved American College of Sofia (ACS):

Here, Carolyn is showing us the liutenitza, Bulgarian yogurt, and wild strawberry jam in her fridge. She takes us on a bus ride, the notorious Route 76, and tells us how she doesn’t pay for tickets because our ticket system is not automated:

In this episode, we see one of the folk-dance lessons that American teachers can take at ACS. Another American family tells us they don’t like the stray dogs and the trash in Sofia, but they like the old part of the city and the Bulgarian countryside:

In the last video, the journalist asks random people whether 400 lev is enough for life in the big city. The consensus is that it is not. We need a lot more to live comfortably. Instead of an epilogue, he asks Carolyn to name some popular politicians and stars. Her replies demonstrate that she is quite oblivious to what’s currently going on in our public space and in general, that Carolyn has a hard time adapting to and understanding the Bulgarian daily life:

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