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: