Girl Meets Bulgaria

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


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My Tastebuds Are Confused!

I love food.

Unfortunately, my waistline is clear proof of this!

While I truly enjoy Bulgarian food–and my MIL’s cooking in particular–after a month or so living in Bulgaria, I really started to crave foods from home. By month three, I was already planning out the meals I would enjoy when I got back to Salt Lake City.

I am sure this is completely normal for most new expats (at least the fat kid expats like me!). Having been to Bulgaria once before, I knew what to expect (or not expect, as the case may be) as far as the cuisine was concerned.

For instance, I now know (and begrudgingly accept) that pizza in Bulgaria is its own special concoction of ingredients. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, so going to Bulgaria and not finding anything that I liked was a disappointment. Making our own homemade pizza was the only way to get around this, and now we rarely eat in any pizza restaurants. I just can’t get over the “popular” Bulgarian pizza toppings: corn, cut up hot dogs, cream cheese, pickles, etc.

Besides plain ol’ pepperoni pizza (with mozzarella, NOT Bulgarian “yellow cheese”) on thin crust, some other cravings that hit hard during my three months in BG include: Mexican (which I don’t really care for that much at home–weird), Cheetos (the Puff variety), sandwiches of any kind, and salads chock full of different veggies.

The funny thing is, since I have been home I haven’t really eaten most of it. And the few things I have had, I really did not enjoy. I no longer crave those things I missed for months in Bulgaria.

I guess it just comes down to wanting things that I cannot have. And now that I have them available to me, I have no desire.

In fact, my first meal at a restaurant since I have been back was so salty I could barely finish it. I have found that to be the case with most foods I have had since arriving home. Clearly I am not used to so much salt as Bulgarian food contains so little (at least the foods my MIL made).

My MIL made every single meal we ate in Bulgaria from scratch: bean soup, lentil soup, patatnik, kufteta, salads, etc. Heck, even her donuts were fresh from the fryer.

While I didn’t lose as much weight as I expected I would these past three months; I did lose a few pounds and felt much healthier overall. Really what I benefited from–thanks to my husband’s lovely mother–was an abundance of fresh, homemade, nutritious, and delicious food. These things beat the packaged and processed foods prevalent in America any day.

The past few days, I have found myself looking up Bulgarian recipes online. I think at some point this month I will try my hand at patatnik and at least one other dish.

Clearly I am {again} pining for the things I cannot have. But the difference now is that I am comfortable enough with the grocery stores here to go and buy the things I need to cook certain meals. Oh, and I have a kitchen to myself; not like our apartment in BG, which was my MIL’s domain.

Can you tell I am already really missing Bulgaria?

I will be sure to write posts on any dishes I actually get around to making.

Hoping you are all having a fantastic weekend!

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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Wedding Plans, Or a Lack Thereof

On Saturday, my friend A. and I attended the Bridal Showcase at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.

At first I was a little put off by the aggressive vendors, but then I got into it and started approaching them. I bypassed most of the wedding dress stalls (the dress is the last item on my list of priorities, I honestly could get married in a sundress and be completely happy about it). Instead, I gravitated to the photography, catering, and reception site booths.

Attending the event really left me stressed about my own wedding plans and made me realize V. and I need to decide what we want to do and fast.

If V. and I end up getting married in Utah, I would love to have our ceremony and reception at Cactus and Tropicals. It’s beautiful, unique, requires little additional decoration, and best of all, they allow my to pick the caterer.

I hesitate to write all this because our plans are a bit shaky at the moment. Because V. and I are such an unconventional couple, our wedding will be unconventional as well. There is no way around it.

Here are just some of the reasons why making any wedding plans freaks me out:

  • At $1,200+ a pop, plane tickets from BG to SLC are just too expensive for his family and friends, so we don’t think any of them will be able to attend. No best man. No groomsmen. Ugh. It sucks!
  • I refuse to burden my mother with wedding costs at the expense of her not being able to afford to travel to BG to meet V’s family and see his country. Unfortunately, my dad cannot be depended on to pitch in. It is more important to me that she is able to spend time in Bulgaria getting to know my in-laws.
  • If V. and I paid for everything ourselves (whether it’s a wedding in Utah or Bulgaria), we wouldn’t have much left to spend on my moving expenses, immigration costs (which are thousands of dollars), and for an apartment should we have to move to Plovdiv or Sofia for work.
  • I have never been big on being the center of attention. I may be loud and funny, but when it comes down to it, I am a pretty shy girl.
  • Lastly, when I really think about it, an elopement or very small wedding sounds quite appealing.

People keep asking me if I would regret my decision to elope 10 years from now if V. and I did go that route. I truly feel that I would not regret it. In an ideal world, my parents (or V. and I) would have plenty of money to spend on a wedding, plenty of time, and plenty of support. But as it stands, we have to deal with the circumstances at hand. And what it boils down to is this: I love Vince more than anything in this world. I want to be his wife. And ultimately, having a big production of a wedding does not make or break how devoted we are to each other, how bright our future is, or how awesome it is to be in a multi-cultural/ inter-faith marriage.

Can you tell I am thinking out loud? Maybe doing a little bit of justifying? I don’t know who I think I need to prove things to. Probably myself. Because really, what girl doesn’t dream of a big, fancy, production wedding?

Whatever Vince and I decide, I hope that my friends and family will be supportive and know that we love them and want them to be a part our wedding and our lives.

Decisions. Decisions.

( I better make some soon!)

W.

 

 

 

 

 


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Happy First Day of Winter

Utah has had snow on and off since October, so today is a little anti-climactic.

Nevertheless, winter has officially come to the land of “the greatest snow on earth.”

Our ski resorts are doing fantastic. Our roads not so much.

13 fatalities in the past 2 weeks alone. Sure makes me glad I don’t have any long drives planned for the holidays.

So here’s to a white Christmas.

W.


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Holy Cow

It’s November!

I love this month for many reasons: crunchy leaves on the ground, crisp fall air, Thanksgiving (and the yummy foods and treats that accompany it), and my birthday!

Fall is my favorite season by far. Utah is really beautiful this time of year. It is beautiful in every season, but especially in the fall.

Beautiful Salt Lake City

We had some crazy early snow fall in October, but nothing yet in November, thank goodness!

But not everything is pumpkin pie and whipped cream…

This month has brought more uncertainty to my move to Bulgaria.

Originally, the plan was to work in Alaska from May-September, get married in the U.S. in September, apply for a long stay Type-D Bulgarian visa, and move. End of story.

Now, however, V. has got a good job prospect in BG and we are rethinking working in Alaska. Good jobs are especially hard to come by in the town where he lives, so the news that he may be hired for a supervisor position with advancement potential  is great news.

Our situation is tough and we are having a hard time deciding what the best path is.

We have discussed applying for a fiancée visa for V. It’s the easiest option and he would be here in the U.S. not long after applying (and being approved, obviously).  But… I truly want to live in Bulgaria for at least a year. I want to get to know V’s family and friends. I want to learn the language. I want to travel the country and experience what Bulgaria is really like.

Ideally, I would like to stay there a couple of years, maybe even long enough to get citizenship.

Ugh.

I won’t ramble on anymore. I am working on a post about what I’ve learned so far about the different visas and the immigration process, watch for that.

For now, however, I am just going to enjoy November and send good vibes out into the universe and ask that things turn out how they are supposed to turn out.

W.