Stanaislava's story

From: Bulgaria | Date moved to the UK: September 2012 | University degree: Politics and sociology student

I came here to study because higher education in Britain has a very good reputation and it is known for being better than most places.

I’ve done all sorts of jobs as a student. I babysit, I waitress, I’ve been a cashier. So just typical student jobs, really. But I’ve actually been refused jobs because I’m Bulgarian, even recently. I’ve been to job interviews where they’ve said to me really loudly and slowly, DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? You…know…ENGLISH? Or they look with big eyes and say “oh, you poor thing, you’re not from around here are you?” I’ve found it patronising and offensive.

And other times the interviewer has asked if I’m sure I’m allowed to work in the UK and don’t believe it’s legal, even though we are in Europe.

"Maybe we should all just make a small Bulgarian and Romanian neighbourhood, go back to the 1940s and live in ghettos"

I worked as a cashier on a football stadium for a few months and sometimes people have looked at me as I tried to take their order and once they heard my accent they would say ‘I don’t want you to serve me, I want someone who is English.” It’s embarrassing. All your colleagues look at you as if you’ve done something wrong.

I always try not to take it personally though, even though it makes me annoyed. It’s the same as judging someone because they have different hair or skin colour. You don’t know anything about them when you look, you just judge them on their accent or where they are from. It’s like people think, ‘hmm, so you are not from round here, that makes you bad!’

So if we are so disgusting, why are so many English people buying houses in Bulgaria?

My neighbours even moved out because they were scared Bulgarians were living next door to them. They weren’t greeting us and then their parents came over and told us that they were scared and were moving out. I don’t actually care that much. Maybe we should all just make a small Bulgarian and Romanian neighbourhood, go back to the 1940s and live in ghettos.

The media coverage of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants makes me so angry and annoyed. But I can understand it in a way. It sells papers and you can tell why it’s happening – especially in times of crisis and worsening economic situations. It’s easier to blame foreigners and to think ‘if these people weren’t here, everything would be OK’. The media like to give the perception that all the problems will go away if the foreigners do. It’s that simple – it’s all psychological tricks.