This month we dive into the life of former translator and Spanish Embassy employee, Bulgarian INC member, Madlén Velinova
- What brought you to Madrid?
I moved here 11 years ago with my Madrileño husband who was repatriated.
- What did you do before you came here?
I used to work in the Culture and Education section of the Spanish Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria and was also a certified translator. In addition I helped Spanish couples through the adopting procedure and also organised hunting trips.
- Tell us about your first job in a Spanish NGO in Sofia, was it hard working in Bulgarian orphanages?
Witnessing the poor conditions and the lack of love and care some kids had to endure was very traumatic for a girl of only 19, yet at same time I learned a lot and enjoyed being of genuine service to people in real need.
- Where have you lived before?
We were posted to Sarajevo when I was expecting my second child and then to Ankara in Turkey. Whilst it was hard starting from scratch twice, we had a wonderful time in both countries.
- What is your secret Madrid?
I love strolling round the Parque de Eva Perón or The Retiro, having a glass of wine at any of the restaurants on Calle Juan Bravo and enjoying a good cup of English tea with a croissant at Living in London café.
- What was it like living in Turkey?
We felt really privileged to be able to visit numerous Roman or Lycian archaeological sites right on our doorstep, some of which date as far as XIII BC. In fact, we were sometimes the only people meandering among those true gems along with only the local goats for company.
- Do Spaniards bear any similarities to Bulgarians?
I felt completely at home right from the start and people have been always very kind and warm to me. Bulgarians, like Spaniards appreciate going out a lot and spending quality time with friends and family.
- What Spanish customs have your family absorbed into your own life here?
As a bicultural family we have always kept alive both Spanish and Bulgarian traditions as we believe they are an intrinsic and enriching part of our kid´s upbringing. We celebrate Christmas and Easter according to both countries’ traditions along with some of the other key Bulgarian festivities such as The Day of the Cyrillic Alphabet (May 24th) and The 1st Day of Spring (March 1st).
- What’s unmissable for you in Madrid?
I think one shouldn´t miss out on The Prado museum, Los Gerónimos Church and Madrid´s 17th century old historic quarter.
- What do you miss most about Sofia?
I never thought I would ever say this but I truly miss the snow and the proximity to the lush green mountain of Vitosha (15 drive from the city centre) which is great for skiing and ideal for walks and all sorts of outdoor activities throughout the whole year. I also miss the continuous opening hours of the shops and restaurants which gives you a greater sense of freedom.
- Why do you think you have slotted in so easily into Spanish life here in Madrid?
I believe it is mainly because I never had to deal with the cultural shock many newcomers experience when they first move here. I was lucky to be fluent in the language before I arrived and to be familiar with Spanish culture, literature and customs and this gave me a real headstart in understanding how life works in Spain. Another key factor in helping me feel integrated was the fact I started working full- time three days after I arrived.
- In Sarajevo
- In Turkey
- In Madrid!