Archive for March, 2010

Bulgaria, Bulgaria

A year ago today, I wrote my most popular blog post of all time. To date, none has even come close to my post Things I Don’t Understand.  I wrote it on a whim. I was having a bad day.  School was frustrating, my students were restless, my colleagues seemed unhelpful, the sidewalks were especially uneven that day and traffic was horrific.

By the time I’d gotten home, I’d written most of the post in my head channeling my anger and frustration into something more productive than the post I really wanted to write. Which was this: I hate blackboards. I hate that students never turn in their work on time and talk during class. I hate feeling like I never know what’s going on. I hate not knowing the language. I hate the sidewalks I am walking on. All of this would have culminated in: I hate this country. And: What the *fill-in-with-an-expletive-of-your-choice* am I doing here?

But somehow after walking the length of Shishman on my way home, instead of writing the ranting post I’d originally been dreaming of, I’d managed to turn everything around.  That’s the thing about living in a foreign country either you can let it get to or you can figure out how to live with the challenges you’ve been presented with. It’s much easier to say: this is not home and as such, not as good but in doing so you eliminate all of the nuance, the difference and the confusion and in my mind, that is what makes living in a foreign country so interesting. (more…)


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I went out with some friends on Saturday night. We met up at One More Bar at #12 Shishman.  I think it’s a relatively new bar/cafe/lunch spot. We had a good time. Once we found it.

One More Bar

Here’s the thing, it’s worth searching for.  Sure it does not have the best name ever but don’t worry. Aside from the less than memorable name there’s a lot to like. (more…)

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Daylight savings has come to Bulgaria. I am not sure why it happens in the States two weeks earlier than in Bulgaria but it does.  So for two weeks the time difference between my hometown Walla Walla and Bulgaria was 11 hours and now we’re back to the standard 10 hour time difference. But this may not make a difference to anyone else but me and my MoM.

I’ll tell you what does make a difference: the loss of an hour.

Time already seems to slip through my fingers without an adjustment for daylight savings.  Yesterday I wasn’t too bothered by the change bu this morning the act of spring ahead seemed unduly cruel.  Luckily it wasn’t something that a few cups of coffee couldn’t cure.

Then after cup number three I was reminded of this article from two weeks ago in the LA Times. The piece is about more than just fatigue cased by the loss of an hour. In fact, it claims that:

  • The number of serious heart attacks jumps 6% to 10% on the first three workdays after the start of daylight saving time.
  • Men are more likely to commit suicide during the first few weeks of daylight saving time than they are during the rest of the year.
  • The number of traffic accidents in the U.S. spikes on the Monday after the clocks move forward. Canadian researchers have pegged the increase there at 8%. And in Sweden, it jumps by 11%.
  • Economists have found that sleep-deprived traders typically produce “large negative returns on financial-market indices” in the week following the shift to daylight saving time.

Wosa.  Be careful out there!

Luckily I know with a slightly earlier bed time for a night or two I’ll be able to get my sleep schedule back on track.  Now the only that thing that will keep me awake at night will be wondering why Europe and America “celebrate” daylight savings time on different days. Or not.

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Yesterday I stood for what turned out to be an embarrassingly long time at Billa looking for a quarter in my wallet. This was embarrassing not because I didn’t have enough money to pay my bill of 22.25 but because there isn’t a quarter in Bulgaria.  So I stood that the checkout looking for a non-existent coin in my wallet while the cashier and everyone behind me in line was waiting for me to pay.

Money, Money

Then while digging through all of the coins looking for a quarter, I dug out a .50 coin and I had this realization that I was looking for something that doesn’t exist.  Here and now. That what I am looking for is a remnant of another time and place. I thought: Carolyn, pay and get out of here. (more…)

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A group of students were hosting a bake sale for a charity in Sofia this week. Basically, they bring in homemade goods to sell at lunch in order to support their charity and then they try to convince everyone to buy their treats. Teachers are an easy target and regularly I get hit up to support a cause, buy a treat or the like.  It was no different this week.

The thing about bake sales at school is that these students don’t sell traditional bake sale desserts. I’ve never seen a frosted cupcake, a monster cookie with M&Ms, a brownie or a Rice Krispy treat (okay the last one doesn’t surprise me much seeing as I’ve never seen Rice Krispies or marshmallows on sale).

As a teacher, I feel like it’s my obligation to make these kids tell me about what the purpose of the sale is but also to make them talk about what they are selling, which treat they recommend, what’s selling best, who made what and what’s in it.

So when a student told me that everything they were selling was “devastatingly good” I couldn’t help but laugh.

There were three options for sale this week.  A dish that looked like a coffee cake but instead of having brown sugar and oats on top, it had spinach and sirene cheese.  That’s not really my thing. I am sure it was good but when I think about a bake sale I think: sweet, sweet, sweet! Then there was a loaf pan with either a bread or a pound cake in it–it was yellow-ish in color.  The students just kept saying: it’s Bulgarian. Um, okay.

Finally there was this:

Bake Sale Treat

This one was the treat that the students told me was selling the best. (more…)

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Sometimes learning a new language is demoralizing. It’s hard work. It’s confusing. It feels impossible to remember and use all of the grammar and vocabulary.

Then in class today in our chapter on Directions I saw this:


I was board. How many times can you say to the right, to the left and straight ahead? So I flipped ahead to see what was next.  It was the above photo.

Um. Really? I just about lost it. In the middle of class. I had to read the English instructions twice. Then I looked at the pictures again and thought, is this for real? It can’t be real. But, it was. We matched up the directions North, South, East and West with the faces on the suns.

If you didn’t take a good look at the faces you should now. (more…)

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Аз обичам да ям сирене и кашкавал. Шопска салата има сирене и пържни картофи има сирене също. Обичам да ям пържни картофи със сирене. Месиля, че сирене и кашкавал са наи-добри от България. В Америка няма сирене или кашкавал.
This is a partner post to the post I wrote yesterday on cheese. It turns out I don’t have a lot more to say about cheese either in English or in Bulgarian. This said, for you cheese lovers out there don’t expect to see another post on cheese any time soon–sorry.

Also, if you’re a cheese lover and you live state-side, you should keep your eye out for Bulgarian sirene (sometimes know as Bulgarian feta). It’s delicious and very different in taste and texture from Greek feta. As for kashkaval, I’ve never seen or heard of it in the states so I guess you’d have to be damn lucky to find some of this cheese or maybe someone who works at the cheese counter at Whole Foods will read my post and figure out how to import kashkaval and open up a whole new window into life in Bulgaria.

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