By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
When Pavlin Bazovski attended his first U100 seminar class, one of his classmates said he could have been mistaken for a soap opera star.
And though Bazovski is no television star, he is well known. In fact, he has claimed a top three spot on the Bulgarian music charts with his work.
Bazovski left behind friends, family and his home in Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia, to arrive in Abilene after a 23-hour flight and some frustrating encounters with various airline employees.
But he’s not in Abilene to pursue fame in America-he is here for a degree.
“It’s a big prestige” to study at an American university, said Bazovski, who is a freshman broadcast journalism major.
A cousin who lives in New York directed Bazovski to ACU, and after two years of planning, he finally enrolled.
“This is a dream for me to be here,” Bazovski said. “It was hard for me to come here.”
The challenge in coming to the United States is an economical one, Bazovski said. Life in Bulgaria is incredibly expensive, and leaving the country even more costly; however, to Bazovksi, the expense is worth it.
“If I graduated here, and I will do everything to succeed, I have the chance to succeed in my country,” he said.
Pursuing a career in music is not the first thing on Bazovski’s mind right now. He said he plans to work in the media once he returns to Bulgaria, because it offers a more stable income than music.
“[Singing] is something like my- hobby,” he said.
Bazovski’s first record was released 10 years ago, he said, when he was “a little child.” He won a competition for young stars after competing against musicians from Bulgaria, Russia, and countries in Europe.
The song, roughly translated to “I Need You” in English, was sung in Bulgarian, and all Bazovski said about its popularity was that “people like it.”
“He’s very humble about it. I don’t know that he comprehends how cool that is,” said William Moore, freshman integrated marketing and communication major from Arlington and a member of Bazovski’s Learning Community, “Words, Images, Power.”
“We were talking about weird jobs we’d done, and he just threw out, ‘well, I’m a pop star in my country’- we just thought he was kidding,” Moore said of a discussion held in their U100 class.
The learning community’s U100 professor, Dr. Susan Lewis, assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, said watching the other students’ reactions to Bazovski is very interesting.
“He is kind of famous,” Lewis said. “And the students find that very interesting and kind of amusing that we have this Bulgarian pop star in our learning community.”
Brian English, freshman broadcast journalism major from North Richland Hills, said he and Moore have listened to Bazovski’s song on his MySpace, but they have not actually heard him sing, although they have listened to Bazovski play both the piano and the organ.
“He didn’t play any of his stuff because he didn’t like the way the organ sounded. He seems like a musical perfectionist,” English said.
Bazovski hasn’t given up singing and recording while he is in Abilene; he has a new project recording a cover of Tom Jones’s “A Minute of Your Time.”
Pursuing music in Bulgaria requires more than talent, Bazovski said.
“If you want to do something like this in my country, you must know that it is difficult. Not the technique, but the economical situation in my country- you need a lot of money.”
And he ought to know-his mother is an opera singer and his grandmother, Pavlina Gorcheva, is “the most famous folk singer” in Bulgaria, Bazovski said.
In fact, many of Bazovski’s family members are accustomed to being in the public eye.
Bazovski said his father is an ex-statesman and ex-colonel in the Bulgarian army, his grandfather is a retired general and his great-grandfather is hailed as a revolutionary hero for his political action during the Bulgarian revolution, Bazovski said.
“My surname is old,” he said. “It’s maybe 300 years or more. This is [a] Slovenian surname, and Bulgarian. It’s a mixture.”
After talking with Bazovski, his pride in his country is obvious. After spending the summer working for national military television as a reporter, he understands the intricate workings of Bulgaria. Because the Bulgarian government controls its media, Bazovski worked for the minister of defense, with “lots of famous journalists and statesman,” he said.
Bazovski was given the opportunity to share his love of country with his learning community in Dr. Mel Hailey’s National Government course.
Hailey said because Bazovski is in the class, he took a day to “look at two governments in comparative perspective.”
Not only did Hailey compare the governmental structures of the U.S. and Bulgaria, but he also presented a slide show presentation with the history, points of interest and beauty of Bulgaria, Hailey said.
English said he sat next to Bazovski during the presentation.
“Pavlin knew exactly everything that was going on and the history behind it,” he said.
Lewis said Bazovski adds an unexpected “facet” to her class; his perspective offers variety.
“I think it’s so good to take students and faculty out of this kind of American idea of what the world is,” she said.
Her point is well-taken-all one has to do is discuss World War II with Bazovski to realize that there are two sides to every issue, and the American lens is but one lens with which to view the world.
While Bazovski is changing the way his American peers think, he is learning to adjust to American ways of life.
He privately studied English for three years before coming to the U.S., but said the slang and the drawl he encounters here make it difficult to communicate.
“I just love all the blank stares that he gives us,” Moore said.
After trying to explain cow-tipping to Bazovski, English said he concluded that “[Pavlin] is not as easily entertained as we are.”
Bazovski comes from a country that is rich in history, adorned with elaborate architecture and surrounded by beautiful beaches, and adjusting to life in Abilene has been a struggle.
“The Dead Sea, it’s our sea,” Bazovski said. His family owns a villa on the beach, and Bazovski said he spent time at the villa just before leaving.
“It was a depressed moment in my life because of my leaving,” he said.
Bazovski also said he likes the people and the university in Abilene.
And according to Moore and English, he is having no trouble making friends.
And Moore did compare him to a soap opera star.
Bazovski appears unconcerned with his achievements back home and merely eager to succeed in the United States.
“I hope that here I will be able to meet, and I [do] meet everyday, young people who are willing to help me get accustomed to the American way of life,” he said.