A couple of years ago I boarded a one way flight to Bulgaria with the intention of finding an apartment and job in Sunny Beach to last me the summer. Now it’s not every one’s idea of ‘finding themselves’ but it has got to be one of the best things I ever did. My family were terrified and my friends concerned but at 18 years old I had to get out there and do something exciting. I needed to let off some steam.
On arrival it was incredibly easy to find a job by simply pounding the streets and asking in every bar, restaurant and club. By the end of week one I was working for a bar crawl company called Bar Troopers and had been put up in a cramped hotel with 80 other PR’s and DJ’s. Throughout the season I worked for other bar crawl companies, got fired from a nightclub for fraternising with the enemy and ended up taking a quieter route promoting for bars and restaurants instead.
There is a bit of a stigma surrounding season workers and the places they flock too, particularly in the summer, thanks to damaging TV shows presented by the likes of Stacey Dooley (can we get a Booo!). Pushing the stereotypes aside, I personally think seasonal work is something any young person should try before they get too caught up with adult life. This is why…
For the first time in your life you’ll have a job you’ll enjoy. I’m not saying the work will be easy but 9 times out of 10 it is fun. For example, if you work for a bar crawl company, you spend your days in the sunshine chatting to people from every corner of the globe and at night you lead those people on high powered bar crawl around the resort, drinking and dancing until the sun comes up. Can you even call that a job? My favourite job was working for a bar called Sunny Dreams. I worked 4 hours a night which was spent dancing around outside pulling in the customers, fuelled by an unlimited free bar. I was the PR that never stood still. A high contrast to the office job I hold now.
You make friends you would never have at home… and you learn to live in very close proximity to them. Until I moved into that cramped and hectic hotel Boulevard I had never really known how great friends could be. A group of like minded people, all in the same position with no cash and no family nearby, you end up looking out for each other. I remember sitting on my bed looking vaguely homesick and one of my colleagues/friends walking past. Moments later a crowd rushed in adorned with rubber rings and frog costumes ramming a bottle of vodka in my face. No one would let you get homesick or even have a bad day. I have even been dragged out of bed in my pyjamas and carried to the bar. The people out there become your family after an incredibly short amount of time and although you may not see them again, you will always remember them.
You learn to get by on sweet fuck all. You go out there with the intention of earning money but you soon realise that is not going to happen. Appalling wages and a hedonistic lifestyle leave you empty-pocketed pretty quickly. But that’s ok. You’re having such a great time that it doesn’t matter that all you have are the clothes on your back. You go two’s with your roommate on a bowl of chips for dinner, and an entire hotel floor shares one bog roll and one tube of toothpaste. One thing is for sure, you no longer take things for granted.
You can totally be yourself. I found that none of these people would have any of the preconceptions of you that those in your hometown do, therefore you can arrive with a completely clean slate and be yourself from day one. Another great point is that if you do mess up and land yourself in any cringe-worthy moments, you’re out of there in a few months time and no one will ever know. Although there may be photographic evidence, you’re Mother doesn’t have to see that.
You get to meet people from all over the world. In that one hotel of workers you would meet Danish, Norwegians, Chileans, Swedes, Canadians, Romanians and the Dutch, alongside the Brits and the Bulgarians. What a hodgepodge of culture. The list goes on and I was offered future places to stay from Berlin to Budapest. It was a learning curve every day, from how alike we all were to our major differences, and speaking to these people has marked their countries in bold on my map of places to visit.
If you’re not a dick the locals are great. The locals can sometimes be fairly hostile, claiming that we have come to ruin their beautiful beaches and disrespect their people. I can totally understand this having seen how ridiculous Brits abroad can be, their behaviour often pretty disgusting. But, it doesn’t take a lot to prove them otherwise with a smile and a bit of respect. I found the Bulgarians really took me under their wing, taught me about their culture and kept an eye on me when I may have been misbehaving. I was taken to meet elderly parents and treated to many home-cooked meals. Here I found some friends for life and hopefully improved their perception of our kind.
It’s a way to get all the young, selfish hedonism out of your system ready for real life. I am not condoning this behaviour, but it is the only time in your life you can wake up and take a swig of stale Long Island Ice Tea without anyone to frown upon it. You can make hair raising decisions with the attitude “Fuck it, we’ll cross that bridge tomorrow”. You don’t have to go to bed and you don’t really have to go to work. Working a season abroad is the perfect way to let off steam before you come back home to think about education or your next possible career move without too many consequences when you wake up.
You will never want to leave. The day I reluctantly flew back to England, I was sat alone in the smoking area of the airport sobbing into my last can of Bulgarian beer and chain smoking. I really did not want to come home. I didn’t want to leave the wonderful people I had met, I didn’t want to leave the cheap booze and sunshine. I certainly didn’t want to come home to what would be 5 months worth of hangover and a slap in the face called responsibility. You will have to come home but be thankful that you just had such a great few months that you didn’t want to leave. And, there is always next summer.