In today’s article we will introduce you Nataliya, or 娜娅 Nàyà in Chinese– the way most people know her. She is from Varna and is 29 years old. We will learn about her passion for Chinese and why she decided to come back to Bulgaria.
Hey, Naya! Can you tell us more about yourself?
I have always enjoyed languages and I knew since I was a child that I will be professionally engaged with them. In fifth grade when we went on a trip to Veliko Tarnovo and climbed to the Tsarevets hill, our teachers pointed to a Rectorate, situated on the opposite hill called Saint Forest. They told us that they had studied there, and from that moment on I was completely convinced that I was also going to study there. Besides, I liked the magnificent view and I wanted to live in this city someday. So it happened eight years later – I began studying Chinese at the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St.St. Cyril and Methodius”, majoring “German and Chinese” and graduating with a bilingual translator’s diploma. In 2011-2012 I received a scholarship for one year specialization in Chinese language and culture at the Beijing University of Language and Culture. Now I am a freelance translator and I am teaching Chinese.
How did you decide to study Chinese?
I began to learn Chinese by chance, I knew nothing about the language itself, except that it was written in hieroglyphs. I didn’t know there were tones and so I faced them right away. But I liked the language very much from the first hour and to me the hieroglyphs didn’t seem to be difficult, just the opposite.
What made you love this language?
What triggered my energy to learn the language were the hieroglyphs, no matter how weird it sounds. They are like a code that I continue to explore. Later, I began to learn about the rich culture and history of China, and this further strengthened my desire to learn it. Of course, my teachers also had an influence.
What was the most exciting experience in China?
It’s hard to say what was the most exciting thing. It is wonderful to climb the Chinese wall that is so famous – one of the symbols of China and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and there are people who say it is visible from space. It’s really impressive, in some places very steep. You do not walk, you climb while holding to some rails. There are many tourists, both Chinese and foreign ones. Chinese people love talking to you and take pictures of you when they see that you are white. And they start some long and friendly conversations that have left a wonderful memory in me. Another nice experience was the Chinese New Year or the Spring Day. Then the students have a long vacation. This is a family holiday and everyone is gathered home.
And what was the hardest thing for you while you were there?
I can’t say that I faced any difficulties. The organization was very good, I didn’t have any problems, maybe because when going there I was already speaking Chinese well and I didn’t have a language barrier. I only had household problems, but I quickly solved them. I can’t help but mention the food – many people asked me about it: “What did you eat there?” The answer is that the food is various and there are dishes for every taste. And the strangest things I’ve tasted were blueberry chips, an ice-cream with peas and a soup with a cucumber.
What impressed you most in Chinese culture?
I was very impressed by the respect among people, their culture and the various arts. The people themselves are modest and have respect for the superior.
What is your favorite place to be in China?
My favorite place is Lama temple, in Chinese 雍和宫 Yōnghégōng . This is the only working Buddhist temple in Beijing. A place full of peace, tranquility and beauty, and, of course, monks in their orange slaves. The literal translation of the name of the temple means “Palace of Peace and Harmony,” but in English it is known as Lama Temple.
Why do you think Chinese language would be interesting for people and why is it useful to learn it?
We are witnessing a rearrangement of forces in the world. Nowadays China is a second economy, but who knows with these rates of development … But even if it remains second, this is a good reason. We all know about the New Silk Road Initiative and the 16 + 1 Program. For some people it will be useful for doing business in China or for frequent travels, others want to study at Chinese universities – I have such students. For others it is useful because they start to look at the world through the eyes of a different culture. Last but not least it is a good exercise for the brain.
How has your knowledge in Chinese helped you?
It helped me in my work as a translator -for both oral and written translations. I also often do technical translations.
Why did you decide to come back to Bulgaria and teach?
As soon as I graduated I decided that I wanted to come back and work in Varna. I think that this language is still not so popular in Bulgaria, so I can contribute to its popularity. Very few people in Varna teach this language and there are no courses.
Why did you decide to work in the co-working space of Innovator?
Innovator allows me to develop in the way I want. I think it’s a great place for a wandering freelancer. The environment is pleasant, my students and I feel good. It’s nice when people with similar ideas and interests are gathered together.
And finally can you tell us your favorite quote in Chinese?
真金不怕火炼 (Zhēn jīn bùpà huǒ liàn) or “True gold does not fear fire”.