Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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13 for 2013

2013_resolution_gmb

Well, folks, it’s officially February! The first month of 2013 has already come and gone.

Craziness.

I’ve had the beginnings of this post in my drafts since early January but never managed to finish it up…until now.

I am a firm believer that it is never too late to set goals and go about tackling them. That being said, I have never been one to set New Years Resolutions. OK…OK… That’s not entirely true. Let’s just say that I’ve never been one to actually accomplish any News Years Resolutions. Like most people, I start out energized and motivated, but just a few weeks later I’ve pretty much forgotten that I even set resolutions. So instead of “New Years” resolutions, I am just setting 13 regular old resolutions to achieve at some point in 2013.

Pretty vague. I know.

But that’s how this girl rolls.

I know I keep alluding to big changes ahead for Mr. Hubs and I, but it’s still just a little too early in the game yet to spill all the beans. I am bursting to tell you all what we have in store for us this year. SOON! Suffice it to say that 2013 is going to be our most life-changing year yet. We’re talkin’ fireworks exploding, Hallelujah music here folks!

(well…maybe not quite that much, but awesome, nonetheless!)

And no. I am NOT pregnant!

13 Resolutions for 2013:

(in no particular order)

  1. Read everything I currently have downloaded on my Kindle. No more downloads until I start reading what I have!
  2. Save more and spend less. This is a BIGGIE! Getting in control of our finances and planning for the future is extremely important to us this year.
  3. Make a bigger effort to keep in touch with family and friends, especially when I am out of the state (Utah) or country. I stay regularly connected with my mom and a few friends, but I can always find more time to send a nice note or email to those I haven’t heard from in awhile.
  4. Take more control of my blog and learn some basic coding and design. Because of the changes ahead for Vince and I this year, I am seriously thinking about making some major blog changes. I’ll let you know if/when that happens!
  5. Clean up my diet. I have been eating really well since getting to Bulgaria but there is always room for improvement. I would still like to try out a vegetarian diet for a month to see how I feel.
  6. Actually try to learn some Bulgarian (beyond the basics) and use it! I’ve been in BG for 3 months now and my Bulgarian has not improved much. I do find myself understanding snippets of conversations here and there, but that’s about it!
  7. Continue to work on my photography skills and tackle a few new techniques. My photography has come a long way since getting my Nikon DSLR (aka, my baby) for Christmas in 2010. I still have TONS to learn, however!
  8. De-clutter and focus on being more organized. AKA stop being such a slob!
  9. Speak (& think) kinder. Sometimes I have a bit of a potty mouth and also say things I shouldn’t. I truly want to strive to have a more positive attitude, both in how I project myself to others and internally as well.
  10. Settle down (a bit) and work on finding a career that I am passionate and excited about. I will always be a vagabond at heart. I have come to realize this. However, it’s also important to me to set down some roots while Vince and I start/raise a family. Don’t get me wrong, there will be LOTS of travels throughout, but we’ll have a home base where we can return to to regroup, relax, and plan our next adventure!
  11. Prioritize time (home/work/hobbies/internet/etc.) As much as I LOVE this little bloggy of mine, I spend far too much time on the internet and computer and not enough enjoying nature, engaging in hobbies, and just being. Between blogging, surfing, social networking, uploading and editing photos, and working, a huge chunk of my time is spent staring at a computer screen. I want to get out more and spend more time with Vince and friends. I know the web will always be a big part of my life but prioritizing how I spend my time online is crucial to keeping my brain from turning into complete mush.
  12. Write! I sat down a few days ago to write out a blog post on paper (thought this might make it easier to organize my thoughts) and I seriously had forgotten how to form letters. Alright, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but the pen definitely felt foreign in my hand. I used to journal and take notes a lot and I would like to get back into that routine.
  13. Cross at least 5 items off my “30 Before 30” list. The big 3-0 is quickly approaching and I have not made much progress on my goal list.

Yeah. That last one is a goal to meet some goals. It’s like Goal Inception! 🙂

What are you resolving to tackle this year? Please Share! I love hearing what other people find important in their lives.

W.

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Adventures in Bulgarian: Beginnings

I am embarrassed to admit it, but the last time I posted about my attempts to learn Bulgarian was in August of 2010.

It was my first month of blogging and I was hell bent on getting serious with my self-study of the language.

That gung-ho attitude lasted all of about 5 seconds.

(Typical Whitney, unfortunately)

Well, I don’t think I can put it off any longer.

In just 3 short months I’ll be back on a plane bound for Bulgaria. No more sitting on my butt hanging out with the hubs in our living room. This time around, we’ll be living in Sofia, working (him for sure, me hopefully), and doing a lot more socializing with friends.

I don’t want to be “that American girl” who doesn’t speak a lick of the language. Not anymore!

In August of 2010 I was simply dating a Bulgarian. Now, nearly two years later, I am married to a Bulgarian and living in Bulgaria. If that’s not enough reason to buckle down and learn the language, I don’t know what is!

I have to say, it’s more than a little shameful to admit to those who ask that I speak little to no Bulgarian. Even after three months living in the country (and with my Bulgarian-speaking in-laws, no less), I only know a few words and phrases. Granted, I understand a lot more than I give myself credit for, but I am nowhere near where I should be after being in a relationship with a Bulgarian for 4 years.

One of my “textbooks”… An activity book for 1st graders!

So, here I am. Starting over. Starting small.

My goal for July is to simply master the Cyrillic alphabet.

(Baby steps to learning Bulgarian…)

Learning my letters

It’s a daunting prospect in and of itself. I have memorized it many times in the past few years, but when it comes to recognizing the letters and their sounds, pssh…I stink!

I think a month is more than enough time to nail it down.If I’m feeling extra studious, I think I’ll throw in some small phrases and greetings. I have most of the colors down as well as the basic formal greetings. Now it’s just recalling them that I need to focus on!

I am surrounded by Bulgarians and hear the language spoken daily. It really shouldn’t be too hard to find someone to practice with. Ventsi and I also talk multiple times a day, so some over-the-phone coaching might be in order as well.

A section in my activity book. Reminded me of the wildlife up here in Alaska!

I’ll be posting on my progress regularly, so stay tuned.

Do any of you bilinguals/multilinguals out there have some advice or tips on how to approach learning a second language? Steps to effective self-study? Please share! 🙂

W.

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Randomly Me Monday: Volume Eleven | 10 Day You Challenge

Up today: five foods

Thought I’d do a bit of a love/hate combo for this one…

–Loves–

1) Pizza–Yum! I’m not into the pies with a huge number of toppings or gourmet ingredients, I am a plain ol’ pepperoni and cheese kind of girl. When I visited Chicago last fall, I made sure to hit up some of the city’s most famous pizzerias. My opinion? Chicago deep dish doesn’t hold a candle to New York thin crust.

2) Seafood–Crab legs are a particular favorite. When I sit and think about it, crabs and lobsters are a bit gross, but they sure do taste delicious!

3) Veggies–There really isn’t a vegetable that I don’t like. I am much more a veggie person than a fruit person. Thankfully, the salad bars offered in Princess employee dining are well stocked. This will come in handy next month when I attempt to become vegetarian for 30 days (one of my 30 before 30 goals).

–Hates–

4) Cheese–OK, not all cheese, but most. I like real cheddar and mozzarella. That’s about it. Anything that smells like feet, comes from a goat, or  has visible mold? NO THANKS!

5) Veal–I am not a big red meat eater in general, but I will eat steak and hamburger. I have never eaten veal and I don’t think I ever will. I know it’s hypocritical not to eat it because of the way the calfs (or is it calves?) are treated when the adults are treated poorly as well, but mentally I just can’t do it.

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There you have it. A bit of a boring blurb on my eating habits.

I think four books will be a bit more interesting!

W.

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Want to see previous posts in this series?

Randomly Me: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

10 Day You Challenge: ten secrets, nine loves, eight fears, seven wants, six places

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Please support my blog through following, subscribing to my RSS feed, connecting with me on Twitter, or liking GMB on Facebook.

I truly appreciate it!


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Randomly Me Monday: Volume Nine | 10 Day You Challenge

Heyo!

I’m back again with a Randomly Me post and the 10 Day You Challenge.

This one is going to be short and sweet {probably}.

Seven wants:

1) A baby— Yep. I am baby hungry and not ashamed to admit it! Soon… Soon…

2) A return trip to Scotland–I visited in 2004 when I was 18 years old and it has embedded itself deep into my heart. I look forward to visiting with my hubby and experiencing more of that famous Scottish charm (and sexy as hell accent!).

3) A successful career–Ideally, when I have kids I would love to stay home until they are older. But if that isn’t in the cards, I hope to have a fulfilling career in some sort of tourism, hospitality, or recreation capacity. I would love to stay with Princess in a year round position, whether it be in California, Seattle, or Alaska. I would also love to have my own business selling my handmade jewelry or something else I handcraft. I have also contemplated returning to school to get my Masters degree. Oh! And maybe work as a photographer. Clearly I have not narrowed down my plans!

4) Visit every continent–I once had this as a goal for before I got married, but obviously that didn’t work out!

5) Better my health–AKA lose weight and become more active! I want to be the best me possible.

6) Accomplish all my 30 Before 30 goals–I am slowing making progress and have about 3.5 years to go!

7) Stay passionate–I think having passions in life, whatever they may be, keeps us young, interesting, and happy. I have mine and I am sure I will develop more as I get older.

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Up next week: six places (SO hard to nail down for a travel bum like me!)

Check out previous weeks’ Randomly Me posts:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

10 Day You Challenge posts:

ten secrets, nine loves, eight fears

Loves!

W.


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Taking a Stand Against SOPA/PIPA

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“When ideas are blocked, information deleted, conversations stifled and people constrained in their choices, the Internet is diminished for all of us.. There isn’t an economic Internet and a social Internet and a political Internet. There’s just the Internet.” –Hillary Clinton (U.S. Secretary of State)

 

GMB will be going dark tomorrow, January 18th (and Tuesday, Jan. 23rd), in support of the fight against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act).  These two acts are currently being discussed in the U.S. Senate and, if passed, will negatively impact not only bloggers, but the internet as a whole. The acts aim to place severe limitations on internet activities and free speech (and weirdly, also limits U.S. citizens rights to obtain prescription drugs from overseas).

Read more about the two acts and their repercussions here.

This video, from Fight for the Future, also breaks down SOPA and PIPA.

 

Please consider becoming one of the millions of bloggers and websites participating in the blackout/strike events and help show the U.S. government that internet users across the world have a right to free speech and unhindered access to the web.

How can you take a stand?

 

I am taking a stand and I hope that you do too!

W.

 


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Decisions, Decisions

It’s 5:20 7:20 am I haven’t been to bed.

Vince and I have been on Gmail video for hours discussing visas, immigration, timelines, life plans, etc.

Until a few days ago, our plans for the next year were this: following my 3-month stay in BG this January-March, I would head home to Utah and Vince would stay in Bulgaria working on getting another J1 visa so we could work in Alaska again in the summer. After Alaska, we’d head to the Bulgarian Consulate in Los Angeles and apply for my long-stay visa. Vince would fly home and I would join him once my visa came through around early to mid November. From there we’d look for jobs and settle in.

Well, after some online searching, an email to the U.S. Embassy in Sofia and talking with the agency Vince uses for his J1, we sadly realized that, while not necessarily impossible, getting a J1 now that we are married is going to be tough. REALLY tough.

Because he is married to a U.S. citizen (moi), Vince is now seen as a “potential immigrant” and all attempts to get a student visa would be highly scrutinized. They pretty much assume people are going to commit visa fraud and stay in the U.S. Yeah. Lame.

To their credit, the U.S. Embassy did say that nothing is out of the question and that each visa applicant is handled on a case-by-case basis. Vince would have the opportunity to explain our situation in person during his interview. But still, it seems like a long shot.

I cried. Like I do.

(I’m a sensitive, easily stressed soul)

Tonight/this morning, we ran through about 1,000 scenarios: Roll the dice and apply for the J1 (and lose all the money paid out for school tuition, agency fess, etc)? Me work in Alaska alone (with a big hit to our plans for saving as much money as possible–two paychecks are much better than one, obviously)? Bag the living-in-Bulgaria scenario and just start the immigration process now? Jump off a bridge (thus avoiding any cross-cultural marriage challenges)?

*That last one is a joke. I think.

What did we decide?

Something entirely different and absolutely crazy/exciting/adventurous…

And something we’re not yet ready to share. It’s not official (and may not be for months to come).

We do know this:

  • Our ultimate goal is to settle in Bulgaria for as long as it makes sense. Financially and otherwise.
  • I want to make it a top priority to learn as much Bulgarian as possible. Being able to speak with Vince’s parents and raising our kids bilingually is not something I am willing to give up on.
  • We want to start a family in the next few years, and the decisions we make now need to support that goal.
  • We’re young and now is the time to live life to its fullest.

I will be sure to update as our plans become more concrete.

Now I am off to bed!

W.


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Why Hello There, November!

It’s hard to believe that it is already November.

Time sure is a flyin’!

A week from today I will be on my way to Chicago, where I will  see the sights, walk my butt off (it needs it!), eats yummy food, take countless photos, and celebrate my 26th birthday!

Before I know it Thanksgiving will be here and that means more family time! I try to value every little moment as these may well be the last holidays I spend in Utah for a few years. *Tear*

The weather in Utah has suddenly shifted from crisp fall to the beginnings of frigid winter. Snow is predicted any day now.

Next month I move to Bulgaria. Yowza! After over three years of planning and hoping, it’s finally happening!

My goal, in the midst of the soon-to-be moving frenzy, is to take the time to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family. I am all too tempted to wish they would just come and go so I can jump on a plane (and fly a ridiculously long time) to Bulgaria. We’ll see how well that goes!

If I know what’s good for me I will also spend the next two months “taking care of business.” As in: clean and organize my things (of which I have far too many) and sell those things that I no longer need/want. I have a huge stash of crafting and scrapbooking supplies that I hope to purge before my move. Not only are they just sitting in boxes gather dust, but I need some movin’ money!

So, that’s my plan for the next 8 weeks… Soak up family and friend time and de-clutter my life.

Wish me luck!

W.