Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Putting It All Behind Us

Immigration...DONE!Vince started work today and it went much better than I expected. I thought our HR manager would have some questions about his immigrant visa or ask for something we don’t have yet (his new Social Security card, for example). As usual, I worried for nothing. He was in and out of her office and starting his first day of work for the 2013 season in just a few minutes.

Today, I was finally able to really breathe, relax, and let go of all the worries and stress that come along with the immigration process. It was exactly this time last year that I was gathering paperwork, filling out countless forms, and beginning our journey to making Vince a permanent U.S. resident.

Oh, the stress that 12 months of bureaucratic red tape and rules can cause!

In a few months time we will have to adjust his status, but other than that, we are done!

We can now focus on building our lives together in Alaska and, eventually, even starting a family.

But first things first…we have to make it through this summer in one piece!


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First Week

I’ve been back in Alaska for a week now and what a week it has been!

A nice note outside my office. #newjob #awarmwelcome

Over the past seven days I:

-traveled from Utah to Alaska

-moved into our summer room at the lodge

-started my new year round job with Princess

-delighted in the fact that I now have a “big kid” job (and even my own office!)

-ventured into Trapper Creek for a mail run and coffee treat

-breathed a sigh of relief when Vince passed through immigration at Salt Lake City International – my man is now a permanent U.S. resident!

and just generally reveled in being back in one of my favorite places on earth

Never going to get sick of seeing this beautiful mountain! Can't believe I live here! #mckinley #alaskaA quiet Friday night. #tgif #silent #alaska #sorelaxing

The only thing missing is my sweet hubs.

Thank goodness he gets here in just a few days!

W.

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Welcome Home, Vince!

He's home!Today was a great day.

Today my husband, Ventsislav, entered the U.S. and became a permanent resident (Green Card holder).

Today a journey nearly 5 years in the making came to an end.

. . .

We could not be more thrilled to be starting the next phase of our life together.

After spending a few days in Utah with my family, Vince will be joining me here in our new home in Alaska.

Today… I am one happy lady!

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Approved!

Vince went to his visa interview at the U.S. Embassy today and was approved! He said it only took about an hour total and they’ll be sending his visa to him in a few days. I didn’t mind him waking me up from a dead sleep at 6am this morning to tell me because I had been stressing about it a little bit even though I knew he would do fine.

He didn’t get the Bulgarian & American flag combo that some applicants get. Bummer!

It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that we are done with his immigration. It’s been a long 10 months full of paperwork, fees, and stress; but we are thrilled to have come through it all relatively unscathed and are really looking forward to starting our life together in the U.S.

The only hurdles left are adjusting his status in a few months (90 days before our second wedding anniversary) and then his citizenship in a few years. After going through the Bulgarian D-visa process and then the Green Card process…I am pretty sure we can handle anything!

I contemplated writing up a wiki or post on our experiences and how we did his CR1 visa for those also going through it, but now that we are done I just want to put it behind us. If you happen upon this post and have any questions, I will do my best to help you out. Just email me at whitney @ girlmeetsbulgaria.com

A Very Happy Wife,

W.

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Super Duper HUGE Announcement Time!

Hmm. Where do I even start?! (and NO…I am NOT pregnant!)

First off, I want to thank all of you, both regular and new readers alike, for supporting this blog endeavor of mine. Girl Meets Bulgaria has been  a way to keep family and friends updated with my life; my inspiration in down times; a place to share my adventures, dreams, and struggles; and a creative avenue where I can explore my passion for photography and writing.

When I started GMB over two years ago, I never could have imagined that it would have grown to where it is today. I have readers in over 100 countries, a growing Facebook page, and connections with some of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

Even though the next few months hold a lot of changes for this blog, I sincerely hope you stick around with me through the journeys that lie ahead.

With that, I’d like to let everyone know that Vince and I are moving back to the the U.S.!

His immigration has been in the works for awhile now and barring any hiccups, should be finalized by the end of the month. Returning to the states was a hard decision for us to make. We’ve been together nearly 5 years now (holy cow! where does the time go?!) and throughout much of our relationship we’ve talked about settling in Bulgaria and making it our home. I knew it would be hard once we had kids to be away from my family and friends in the states, but I thought we would cross that bridge when we came to it.

After my stay here last winter and another summer in Alaska, we began to see that living in Bulgaria posed a lot of challenges to building our life together and starting meaningful careers. Sure, there are TONS of perks and advantages to living in Bulgaria (ahem, can you say TRAVEL!)  and many people are very successful here; however, it just didn’t feel as “right” for us as it once did. Vince is, of course, very sad to leave his parents and friends, but he is excited for the opportunities available to us in the U.S. and we hope to visit Bulgaria often. This country will always hold a very big part of our hearts and be a significant part of our life together.

OK. So are you ready for ANOTHER big announcement?

We’re moving to Alaska permanently! 

I was recently hired in a year round management position with Princess Cruises in Alaska and could not be more excited! Vince and I had already planned on returning to Denali this summer for what was likely to be our last time, when a full time, year round position opened up I knew I had to apply. Princess is an incredible company to work for and after 3 summer seasons, I am thrilled to be starting a career with them (looks like I’ll be using my tourism degree after all!).

Alaska has become a second home to us during our many summers spent working in Denali. Moving there permanently is a bit of a daunting prospect, but with so much to do and see, we are very excited to be making such a big change. Frigid (and dark) winters at-40 below should be interesting!

We will be living and working outside the tiny town of Trapper Creek (pop. 423) at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge (about 2 hours north of Anchorage). The lodge is very remote (i.e. completely by itself with nothing around for miles) and sits a mere 40 miles from the base of majestic Mt. McKinley. All 20,320 snow-covered feet are visible from the lodge on clear days; it’s a breathtaking sight!

I’m about to become a mountain woman, ya’ll! 😉

Things are happening very quickly and I will be leaving Bulgaria next week with Vince to follow early next month. My first stop is Utah for a visit with family and friends as well as life maintenance things (moving to another state requires some logistical shuffling) and major shopping trips–no more company-provided uniforms for me! I have to buy a completely new professional wardrobe. After that I am Alaska bound!

I don’t know exactly where I am going to take this blog. I am thinking a new name is inevitable–I figure it’s about time for some major changes anyway. I do know that I will keep it up and post as often as I can! Going from unemployed with endless amounts of free time to working full time will obviously affect my blogging habits, but I fully plan on blogging well into the future.

Whew! What a post, right?

Here’s to moving forward and new adventures!

W.

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2012: A Year in Review

2012_blog

It’s hard to believe that 2012 is coming to a close. This year has been very eventful indeed and saw me moving from America to Bulgaria, confronting life (and a fair amount of culture shock) as a new expat, exploring my new home, venturing back to Denali, Alaska for a third summer working for Princess Cruises; time spent at home in Utah with friends and family, another leap across the pond to Bulgaria, and reveling in a ridiculous amount of incredible travels.

While part of me is sad to see such a jam-packed year pass, the rest of me is looking forward to the BIG changes and adventures that 2013 holds. There is already a lot in the works and Vince and I are excited for everything to come.

As I reflect back on 2012 and all that I have experienced, I wanted to share some of the highlights from this year that made their way into blog posts.

(It’s a long one guys!)

January:

February:

March:

Continue reading


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It Begins Again

I started my Bulgarian type-D long stay visa process {again} today.

As many of you may already know, I gathered most of the paperwork and went through many of the steps in the fall, but was not able to get my visa in time for my flight to Bulgaria. As such, I gave up on it and went over to Bulgaria for the 90 days that I am allowed as a tourist.

Well, this time around I plan on being well prepared far in advance. I can’t be as nonchalant about it as I was before. I need that visa!

Last time around I even booked a flight to Chicago to visit the Bulgarian Consulate  to apply for my visa–all before even getting all the necessary paperwork. November rolled around and I didn’t have most of what I needed, so Chicago turned into a birthday trip with my friend. We did stop at the consulate briefly to ask some questions, but it was pretty useless. All the woman did was hand me the visa application form, which is easily found online. So much for good customer service!

I am still unsure as to where I will apply for the visa this time. I am leaning towards L.A. as it is the closest to my home in Utah, but I have heard that the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington D.C. approves the visas same day. I need to verify this but I hope it is true. It would be such a huge relief to fly home with my visa in hand and not have to wait for a month or so to get it. I suppose I will make my choice of where to apply sometime over the summer. If I went to D.C. I could turn it into a mini-vacation as well. That’s very enticing!

Today, I went and had my fingerprints taken again so that I can submit them to the FBI for a criminal background check. The technician told me that they turned out “a bit dark” and that if the FBI rejected them that I would need to send in another card. The thing is, it takes upwards of 12 weeks to hear back from the FBI on the status, so waiting for up to three months only to find out that I need to do it all again would really stink. I told the technician this, and he simply shrugged it off and said they would probably be fine. GRR!

The thing is, I already did all of this and got my results back from the FBI (I am a good girl–no criminal record!). However, I have heard that the Bulgarian Consulates don’t accept any background checks older than 6 months.

Thankfully, I got all of the things I needed from Vince (notarized copy of his passport and affidavit of support) while I was in Bulgaria, so I am covered there. Now I just need to wait on my background check, get it apostillated by the U.S. State Dept., get my marriage license translated into Bulgarian, get the proper health insurance, have $3,000 in the bank (although this number changes depending on which consulate you talk to), and go apply.

Yada. Yada. Yada.

SUCH a hassle for a 6 month visa!

Overall, today has turned into a life maintenance day. In addition to getting my fingerprints taken and mailing them off to the fine folks at the FBI, I also turned in my taxes to my accountant.Praying for a good refund this year!

Wish me luck!

W.