Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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Spring in Salt Lake

Happy to be back amongst these gorgeous mountains! #saltlake #utah #rockies #mountainloverUtah weather is fickle. It can be sunny and beautiful one day and then snowy any gray the next. I’ve lived in Salt Lake City (err… a suburb of the city, anyway) all my life, but I am still not used to sudden weather changes.

#supposedtobespring #utahweatherTrees in my brother's backyard. #trees #sky #isthisspring?

When I got back to SLC about a week and a half ago, the weather was gorgeous. The first day of spring brought rain and snow. After such a mild winter in Bulgaria this year, I was actually a little glad to get to experience some real Utah snow. Even with the cold snap, spring is still making an appearance.
#beautiful #spring #flowersEven with the recent snowfall, Spring is still making a show! #utah #saltlake #springflowersDespite the cold, Spring is making an appearance!While the weather is sure to warm up quickly here, I can’t say the same for Alaska – where I am headed this weekend.

Over the weekend, Trapper Creek (my new home!) got over 3 feet of snow. With winter weather advisories still in place for parts of the state, it looks like Spring is still a glimmer in the distance for the 49th state!

I’m a little stressed because my winter boots and wool coat are in Bulgaria. It looks like I will have to make do with whatever I can scrounge up at my mom’s house for a few weeks!

How is Spring doing where you are? 

W.

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Another Journey, Another Packing Adventure

I moved most of my stuff to Bulgaria last December; so this time around my packing list is shorter but also a bit more specific.

(Oh, but I will still obsess over it and put off actually packing until the absolute last minute!)

I generally know now what I can and cannot find in BG. I also know what things make good gifts for my family.

There’s no reason for me to stock up on many of the things that I did last time around. I am set on Ziplocs, clothes, kitchen ware, and toiletries. Let me tell you, I am extremely thankful not to be lugging over another heavy pizza stone and Tupperware!

What things are making it into my suitcase and that dreaded 50 lb. limit? Well let’s see…

  • Another case of tampons. Sorry, BG, I’m still not into scented, non-applicator feminine products!
  • A couple of bottles of the world’s best hot sauce: Chohula. I love it. My MIL LOVES it (and used up the bottle I brought in just a few days).
  • Three (YES, 3!) vegetable peelers. I took one over in December and apparently it’s a big hit. I have requests from my in-laws, by brother-in-law, and his gf for one. Easy-peasy gifts if you ask me!
  • Instant oatmeal packets. These were a big hit too. Vince inhaled them before I could even have more than a bowl or two. I know oatmeal is available in BG, but I haven’t seen the instant packets anywhere and I find them convenient as I rarely eat breakfast and usually just go for something quick when I do.
  • Maple syrup. Yet another request from the hubs. He can’t get enough of the stuff.
  • Crochet supplies. I am in the middle of two afghans at the moment and I hope to fit all the yarn and needles in my suitcases so that I can finish them over the long winter ahead. If I had endless amounts of room and no weight limit, I’d also bring along my jewelry-making supplies, my paper crafting stuff, and supplies to make martenitsi–too bad that’s NEVER going to happen!

I think living in Sofia will make things a lot easier. There are larger grocery and department store chains there, including a Debenhams opening at the end of the month in yet another new mall, Bulgaria Mall. And there’s always good ol’ IKEA. I’m sure that we’ll be able to find everything we need.

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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Here I Go

As you read this I will be flying at about 30,000 feet, crammed into a tiny seat, just wishing I could land in Sofia already.

As I get older, flying seems to be harder and harder on my body. Flying home from Venice a few years ago, I was absolutely sure I had a blood clot in my leg. Freaked. Me. Out.

So now, I tend to choose an aisle seat over the more-comfortable-for-sleeping window seat. At least in the aisle seat I can stretch my legs a bit more. Downside is that I have to get up every five seconds so the people next to me who seem to have squirrel sized bladders can go relieve themselves. No joke, in all my travels I can count the number of times I have used an airplane restroom on one hand. Direct, 16-hour flight from New Delhi to Chicago? Zero. Don’t ask me how I managed that!

I have been loading up on Airborne and packed a little bag with in-flight necessities (ear plugs, eye mask, chapstick, more Airborne and eye drops). I inevitably get sick during or shortly after flying. I am hoping to prevent that this time.

I hope I packed everything I need, took care of everything I needed to at home, and I pray my flights go smoothly and safely.

Next time I post I will be bloggin’ from Bulgaria.

It’s about damn time!

Talk to ya’ll soon!

W.


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Last Minute Chores

I slept in a little later than I probably should have this morning; but it felt amazing!

Weirdly, I am going to miss my little twin-sized air bed.

Yep, for the past 3 months I have been crashing on an aero bed on my bedroom floor.

Why, you ask? Well, right before I left for Alaska in May, I gave my bed to my cousin. She was in need of a “big girl” bed and I was moving anyway, so she got it.

I still like to visit it (read: pass out on it) sometimes when I am at my aunt and uncles house.

Come Thursday I will be sharing a full-sized bed with a very sweet Bulgarian. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond stoked for that, but I can’t help but feel a little twinge of sadness to be saying goodbye to my own bed, even if it is just an air mattress.

Anywho, back to the point of this post…

I still have quite a lot to do and not enough time (I have to be at the airport at 9am tomorrow morning).

It probably doesn’t help that I slept in and am now writing a blog post.

Here’s a list of a few things I still need to do before boarding a jet plane tomorrow morning:

  • Pack (only one suitcase left!)
  • Finish cleaning my room
  • Go get all my money out of my personal bank account then close Vince and I’s joint account. No more Wells Fargo. Yay!
  • Visit with my friend A. to give her her Christmas gift
  • Visit with my cousin to say goodbye (I am going to tear up)
  • Make sure I have all my documents out in case I need my mom to do anything while I am gone (apostillations, translations, etc)
  • Find a missing earring. It’s one of my favs. Can’t leave home without it!
  • Sew up the little hole in my travel pillow

This has probably been my most interesting post to date, don’t you think? 😉

I promise more interesting stuff is headed your way.

(Can anyone say recipe for the BEST bean soup in the entire world?!–Yep, that’s coming up soon!)

Until tomorrow, my friends.

W.


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Tampons, Peanut Butter, and Ziploc bags

Yep. All things I am planning on taking with me to Bulgaria.

Vince thinks I am crazy (he’s probably right), but I’d rather lug an extra few pounds in my bags than find myself in BG with only scented, applicator-less tampons–ick!

(Thanks, Karolinka, for the tip on tampons!)

More than once he has told me, “We don’t live in the jungle! You can buy it all here!”

He’s so cute! I know there are no jungles in Bulgaria! 😉

The Ziplocs and peanut butter just come as a result of a few blogs I have read. Peanut butter is available, although I hear it’s a bit hard to find and is rather “expensive.” Ziploc bags (or anything similar), from what I have read, are not available in Bulgaria. So, if I have the space, why not take them?

However, with the way I tend to pack, extra space is a rare thing. I suppose it comes down to priorities.

The tampons are a must, but the funny thing is, I don’t like peanut butter all that much, and I cannot imagine needing plastic bags very often. Still, the little bit of OCD-Whitney in me just won’t be comfortable flying 30,000 feet in the air knowing a jar of peanut butter and boxes of Ziploc baggies (in various sizes) aren’t tucked safely away in my suitcases.

I’m a weirdo.

Other than a few random kitchen/cooking items, I consider the rest of my packing list to be pretty normal: warm clothes to get me through the winter, my electronic gadgets, wedding photos for the in-laws, and essential sundries/toiletries–including a jumbo, Costco box of Tampax, to be sure!

Another post on my adventures in packing is sure to come.

I am breaking out in hives just thinking about that 50 lb. limit.

Until then,

W.


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Apartment Updates

Just got off of gmail video with the hubby, and things are a changin’ at our apartment in Bulgaria! Mostly in preparation for my arrival.

Boy howdy, do I feel like a queen! 😉

We talked about re-doing the bathroom all summer. Some of the tiles were chipped and falling off, so we made sure to save enough money to redo the entire thing. Tiles were purchased yesterday, along with a new faucet and shower head. A new boiler will go in soon, but we are waiting on a new vanity/sink until I get there to pick it out.

Well, the bathroom renovations/updates snowballed (much to my excitement and appreciation) and Vince and his mom repainted the kitchen. Vince bought a new oven, iron, and… deep fryer.

I guess he has grand visions of me baking him a pie (yep, that’s a real request, I was informed I need to bring a pie plate and brush up on my pie making skills), ironing clothes while it bakes, and then frying up some side dish to go with it.

The weird thing? I am totally stoked to do all of the above!

Perhaps I am the one with the grand visions! Domestic Goddess? I’ve got it in the bag!

Vince is super independent, having lived in the apartment by himself since he was 16 (his parents moved about 40 minutes away to take care of his grandparents). When I visited BG, he did most of the cooking, cleaning and laundry. Let’s not even revisit the fact that he had to order all my food for me in restaurants (first asking if cheese was present in any of the dishes), translate for his parents and I, and answer my non-stop questions about what such-and-such sign said.

The boy is a living Saint (most of the time), I tell you what.

Back to the renovations…

After painting the kitchen they decided to take down the wallpaper in the living room and paint, which has now turned into adding texture to the walls (don’t know if I will like it, seems a little out dated to me, but we’ll see!), pulling up the carpet, and laying down parquet.

The apartment is all a buzz with workmen. I am glad I’m not there for all the mess and will just arrive to everything done!

Vince informed me today that there will be “a lot” of visitors when I arrive. Apparently, his entire extended family has informed him they will be stopping by to meet me.

Not gonna lie. I am super nervous.

No English on their part, no Bulgarian on mine. Should be interesting. I see a never-ending game of charades and possibly Pictionary in my near future.

I did have to tell Vince today to not buy any accessories. A girl needs to decorate her space after all!

I am penciling in a trip to Ikea soon after I arrive. Rugs and lamps and throw pillows, oh my!

41 days and counting!

W.