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Archive for August, 2008

Today has been a great day.  I woke up about 8am and had breakfast.  Then I uploaded a number of photos to Facebook and wrote on some friends walls.  I studied some Bulgarian and then took an early afternoon nap.  Today is my first day “off” in quite awhile.  I feel like I’ve been going, going, going for months now.  Tryavna was great but busy and the last week of intensive Bulgarian lessons has left me exhausted in the afternoons.

So today was perfect.  The only thing that would have made this day better would be a Law & Order: SVU marathon.  Law & Order especially Law & Order: SVU is the perfect for an afternoon of mindless tv watching.  There is excitement in each episode but the story line is pretty fool-proof.  A bad thing happens to a woman, a child, or someone elderly and the case is sent to SVU where Oliva and Elliot are put on the case.  They track the bad guy down and then comes the law part where usually a satisfactory conclusion to the case presents itself.  Although, this is not always the case.  While this boilerplate description makes the tv show sound too simplistic to be interesting, it is just the opposite.  The drama in catching bad guys is what makes it not only watchable but addictive.

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I’ve been watching the news this afternoon–the BBG that’s not to be confused with the BBC as these are two different things.  The BBG is the Bulgarian Broadcasting something or other which starts with a G.  If I knew more Bulgarian I could probably tell you what the G stood for but for right now, you’ll just have to trust me or maybe you’ll get lucky and one of my new Bulgarian friends will read this and post the answer.  Anyhow, this post isn’t actually about the BBG it is really about Barack Obama in Bulgaria.

Okay, he’s not even in Bulgaria.  Actually, I am not even sure that he has ever stepped foot in Bulgaria but that doesn’t really matter.  He’s here. He’s all over the news and he looks great.  I have been watching clips of him at the convention and listening to speeches on YouTube and I can’t help but to think wow. Even watching BBG, I am impressed and I don’t know what the news commentary is but he looks like presidential material to me. And I am strangely proud of him.

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I am back in Sofia and settling in nicely. On Saturday night, I went out with a group of friends from the Fulbright International Summer Institute or FISI for short (this is the program I’ve been on for the last two weeks in Tryavna). And, I had my first two house guests which is not bad for a one bedroom apartment–I had some hot water problems and the internet went out so I probably wont make it on any “best bed and breakfasts in Sofia” lists but that’s okay. And for the record, the problem was of course me and not the apartment and I’ve got it all worked out now. In other words, this means that it’s safe for my friends and family to come and visit.

Then I spent Sunday saying good bye to all of my new friends from FISI. It was strange to say good bye to everyone over two days–friends from Romania, Croatia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Albania, Lebanon and Azerbaijan to name a few countries–and then to find myself at dinner with a group of Bulgarians and me, the American. I realized at this dinner that I am going to be here for a year. I said good bye one by one to my new friends and now here I am.

The great thing is that I have more friends then when I moved to Sofia (thanks to FISI and the wonderful students there), I know more Bulgarian than when I stepped off the airplane three weeks ago, and I finally feel like I am settling into this city.

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For a number of years in DC, I didn’t eat meat. Then my roommates wore me down and I started eating meat (it’s pretty hard to say no to my two male roommates and between the two of them they are pretty good with a grill and fryer and anything that was once breathing). When I found out I was moving to Bulgaria for the year, I started looking into the local cuisine and found out that the diet is heavily meat based. Sure there are some meat free dishes but even these aren’t necessarily meat-product free so I decided to start eating meat more seriously.

Don’t worry though, MoM, I am still eating plenty of veggies–mostly these days in the form of tomatoes, cabbage and cucumbers (yes cucumbers and for those of you who know me, you’ll know this is a big deal because I don’t eat cucumbers. I think in the last two weeks I’ve eaten more cucumber than in the previous 26 years of my life). The interesting thing is that I haven’t seen a single leaf-lettuce or spinach salad in the last three weeks. I am going to miss those soon.

I am sure at this point you are wondering to yourself: where is this post going? Well I’ll tell you.

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I’ve been in Tryavna a little over a week now. Thus far, I have more to say about the experience than I’ve had time to write about it. So here’s a quick update: I’ve been out almost every night this week and can confirm that men and women living in the Balkans take their drinking seriously. It’s a pretty standard that the students at the conference don’t get around to going out into the town until 11:30 or 12 at night and will stay out until 4am. I however am not yet acclimated to this schedule and am usually home by 2 or 2:30 in the morning. I expected that this would be the case when I moved to Bulgaria but what I didn’t expect was that I was going to participate in a live art performance in Tryavna.

In many ways, I guess this is why I moved here–to push myself and to test my understanding of myself–because I never imagined I would end up lying in the town square in the small town of Tryavna having a Bulgarian word painted on my body.

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I watched the Bulgarian-US men’s volleyball game last night. The game was announced, of course, in Bulgarian. I understood the scores as the were announced and not much else. And one of the major things that stood out to me during the two and a half hour match was the fact that there was not a single commercial or advertisement during the entire game. Rather than switching over to a commercial as I am sure that we did in the US (that is if the game was even broadcast in the US), the cameras zoomed into the huddles. This resulted in some awkward camera angles–sometimes over players shoulders, sometimes up people’s legs and occasionally over the shoulders of coaches to see their clipboards.

As I am sure most of you know, I am not a huge sports fan. I usually go to Nationals baseball games and cheer for baseball or Hoya’s basketball games and cheer for basketball. My natural inclination was to cheer for volleyball but given how serious the Bulgarian fans were to do so seemed disingenuous. As a result, I sat there surrounded by cheering Bulgarians and clapped when the US played well.

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Quick update: Robyn, et all, I just about lost it on Monday night when at one of our formal dinners, the hotel were serving box wine. Bulgarian boxed wine! It was great fun to see this. There was both red and white wine but the white I think was better than the red. The red wasn’t very deep but the white was crisp and smooth. I however have no idea what the names of the wine were. I think I am going to work on getting to know Bulgarian wine over this next year.

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