Written & edited by Stacy Oswald

When I received my EVS invitation letter from the Open Space Foundation, the first thought that crossed my mind was “ALL THE CLOTHES AND SHOES I WILL BUY” followed by “ALL THE FASHION SHOWS I WILL ATTEND”. I was super excited, I am actually ashamed to say for the first three months that is all I could think about rather than what exactly I will be doing when I get there.

I was lucky because I had two friends ahead of me that were doing the first six months of the EVS volunteer program at Open Space Foundation and they gave me all the spoilers including which shops to visit and where to go. What they forgot to mention however was the minimal levels of fashion shows (Someone else gave me the spoiler). The good thing was it helped me finally structure my mind and it helped me think of my personal project that I will do at the end of my volunteering time, yes! You guessed correctly. It will be a fashion show.

After months of waiting I finally landed in Sofia Bulgaria, and I remember thinking to myself, did someone forget to switch off the air conditioner all year? But no, that was the harsh winter of Sofia.

Honestly speaking, all I could think about at that time was ‘grab anything next to you and cover yourself’. I really wasn’t thinking about fashion whatsoever. I was thinking “SURVIVAL.”(wish i listened to my sister, she told me survival first.) I expected the cold winter but there is no way to prepare an African body to that kind of weather.

For the first two weeks there was no snow, it was cold, it was windy, but no snow. I was like, I travelled all this way just to get slapped by the wind? I need some snow, as if the cold was not enough, little did I know about all the complications that come with the white snow.

In a way it was good because no African boots can sustain the snow and the freezer, this finally called to my first official shopping experience in Sofia.

My receiving organization was deeply concerned about this matter,and finally started showing us (me and my fellow volunteers) all the super cool boutiques. Okay! Confession, I already knew where they were, I think all the H&M staff know me by now.

We started on the “Paolo Botticelli” website to search for boots, but of course I suggested we physically go to the Bulgarian mall just so I can calm my fashion demon inside me.

I tried almost every shoe my size, until I finally found the one I like, okay, i also tried those a bit bigger, my guy colleagues had to leave me behind but what do they know right?

I switched from boutique to boutique in Sofia because I had a mission, it’s the reason I came with few things. A girl has to dress.

The more I went out the more my body started getting adjusted to the weather and now, it was time for me to scout for the second hand stores. Sure my supervisor gave a hint of where some of them are but I had to peruse some more. I believe in secret treasures and I found it. I discovered “Mania” (my guy friends actually spotted it before I did), it is a classy second hand store with almost anything you need (minus makeup) And if you have their Mania card you get incredible discounts.

Moving to the next street I found also more chains of classy second hand stores, some were from the same owner, but I am sorry, I could not read the name, the clothes were nice, classy and moreover sustainable.

I suddenly fell in love with this street, it is the whole area around the mosque and the opposite side. Not only did I get clothes, I got makeup and so many accessories and I even made friends with an old couple in a local bakery shop, they sell pizzas for one leva, really tasty, I think it is because they liked my style.

My biggest problem now was my hair, how and who can take care of it? I managed to find great hair products around other stores like “Lilly” and surprisingly even “Billa” and to top it all up, my roommate can actually do different hairstyles. I have never felt luckier.

You think that is it? Turns out Bulgaria does have fashion shows, maybe not as many as in Millan and New York, but they exist and that is all i need to keep breathing.

Now, I have my hair covered, I have my makeup and accessories covered, I have pizza cover,and the couple gave me extra Bulgarian bread for free. They were so tasty. AND I can cope with the weather. I don’t think I will ever get used to it but I can handle it now.

Finally I am happy and I am not dressing for survival anymore,


More about my rubric for fashion: in my blog  FALS: Fashion & Lifestyle…


The rubric “My opinio is important” is a part of our project “Art and Culture for Unity”

supported from European program “Erasmus+”, Key Action 2: Capacity building in the field of youth