A day and a half until I leave Bulgaria!
I finally met Dimitar’s friends from middle school! They are all very attractive - like Dimitar, but really, I think most Bulgarian’s are proportionately more attractive than Americans. We played pool, and I reminded myself of how terrible I am at billiards.
On Monday, we woke up to snow everywhere. Unfortunately, that is also the day that we talked Dimitar’s dad, Vasil, into driving to Plovdiv and Koprivshtitsa - scenic towns within a few hours of Sofia. We left late in the day, so the roads were fine to and in Plovdiv. The city is the second biggest city in Bulgaria, but with a third of a million people, it is a fifth as populous as Sofia! The oldest parts of Plovdiv are hilly, filled with beautiful homes and churches everywhere. We left with enough time to peruse through the mountain town of Koprivshtitsa, but the road that lead us to the town’s turn off had a chain advisory for driving. Things started out fine, since the snow plows had come through a couple times. But after a couple hours of driving, we saw the small road to the town had at least five inches of snow that would likely not be plowed. So we decided that we’ll have to go there next time! Vasil, Dimitar, and I were glad that we didn’t take the turn off the main mountain road, because after an hour or so the temperature fell and in a long turn Vasil accidentally did a 360 because of the ice. Then it took another three hours to get home because we drove though the mountains, meaning that the whole trip took twice as long as it would have if we took the freeway. From the car, Dimitar and I took a handful of pictures that I will be sure to share, along with all of my other pictures.
Tuesday was our day to go see the Hobbit, in 3D Imax. The screen we watched it in on in the Mall of Sofia is the first in Southeastern Europe and the biggest in the Balkans. That night I met another of Dimitar’s friends, who was celebrating his birthday. It was nice for me because people spoke in English more often.
That night Dimitar and I took a night bus to Bucharest, which by car is 5.5 hours away, but 7.5 on the bus. After checking in at a hotel, we met up with three friends from Trinity, and a couple of their friends. They were amazing hosts - showing us all the landmarks that I’m sure were mundane to them, paying for us on the subway & bus, and devoting their day to us when they could have been studying or working. We visited the Grand Palace, which had been the second biggest building (by volume as well). Now it is the third biggest, because of the new airport China built on an artificial island. My pictures from there are not the greatest, because I heard that I would have to pay extra for pictures…. but even if I had taken the time to take better photos, I don’t think my camera would have done the palace justice. We also tried Absinthe (illegal in the U.S.!), visited the Natural History museum, and saw Anna Karenina.
On Thursday night, my second and last day in Bucharest, Dimitar and I took a night train to Sofia. Even though it took twice as long compared to driving, because of stops, it was really nice to be able to sleep! Before heading back to Dimitar’s parents’ place, we visited the Modern Art Gallery. Dimitar and I enjoyed it, but since they were featuring a Dali exhibit, I have a few odd images stuck in my mind - like someone trying to saw off their butt?
Now with only tonight and tomorrow left, I will see Dimitar’s friends from middle school once more tonight, and tomorrow I will visit the Historical Museum, go out to eat with his parents for dinner, and see a couple Bulgarian Trinity graduates before catching a few hours of sleep prior to a 6am flight. I should land at 3pm Sunday, Eastern time, if there aren’t any delays.
It has been over three months since I posted! The good news is I did graduate and I graduated with honors! You may be proud, especially because this was a goal set upon my return from South Africa in July of 2010.
Since I have graduated, I spent 10 days with my wonderful mother. While she was in town, we went to New Haven (where Yale University is), visited the Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford, and went on a cruise in the sea town, Mystic, CT. We also did a fair amount of out-of-state travel. The first week day she was here, we traveled to New York, followed by Boston, and a couple days in Washington D.C.
My commencement went rather well too! After the ceremony and a few introductions for my mom, we went to a late lunch with the family of Dimitar, my boyfriend. In fact, while she was in town we made it up to Amherst, MA. Dimitar will be going to grad school (for a PhD program) in Amherst so it was nice for my mom to see that area and the neighboring town Northampton.
While my mom, Dimitar and I were in D.C., I learned over a phone call that I got the job as a Resident Service Coordinator at an elderly and disabled apartment building in West Hartford, CT. The entire interview process was quite a short process; on the first day my mom was in town I had a phone interview, between museums and Mystic I had an on-site interview and a day later I learned that I would start working full-time on June 7th!
So after the end of my travels with my mom, I went to Philadelphia for a very relaxing week of visiting Dimitar’s brother. Since I have had the position, I have learned what to believe from the interviews for this position. What they said is that I am NOT a social worker and things will get crazy. What I have found is that no one has any idea what a Resident Service Coordinator (RSC) is and I have often been called a social worker, but yes- things can get VERY crazy. However, like with everything else in life, I have gotten used to the chaos and learned what my strengths and weaknesses are my co-workers and for the people I help provide services for.
An easy explanation of what I do is that I am an R.A. (resident assistant) of a college dorm. Of course the population I oversee is very different and I get paid more, but to put it simply I make sure that everyone has what they need/knows how to get it and that they all get along. To add on to this, there is a renovation going on, which started last October. Since they have recently reached the halfway point, the first 9 months of my job will consist of a handful of days each month that are filled with helping residents as they either move into a temporary apartment or move back into their original apartment.
Another exciting change is that I have moved to Holyoke, MA, which is about 40 minutes from West Hartford and 30 minutes from Amherst (where Dimitar will be going to grad school this fall). Since Dimitar’s parent’s are moving back to Bulgaria after living in West Hartford for the last eight years, it is rather convenient that he and I can commute to West Hartford together each day.
With a new income, I will be able to buy one of Dimitar’s two cars- a VW Jetta- and use it to commute to work with a co-worker each day. To make this plan even better, the co-worker lives in Springfield, which is on my way to West Hartford AND she is the other Resident Service Coordinator, who has been working on Mondays and Tuesdays since February to help fulfill the need. Isn’t this great? I might just pick her brain each day so that I can become the best RSC ever!!!!!
In the end of August I will be going to a four-day training in Orlando, FL ran by the American Association of Service Coordinators. Then just a few days after that I can be in Idaho to visit my family! I am thrilled of course; I always miss my siblings and mother, but I simply have no idea what I am missing out on when it comes to my nieces, nephew, and nephew to come this October.
There are plenty of pictures on Facebook, but if you ever feel the need for more… do let me know.
trinidad and tobago
Trinidad was excellent. My flight there from NYC was about 10 hours, but 12 with the layovers in Houston, TX. I arrived late at night on Sunday, January 9th and left early in the morning Saturday, January 15th.
Before I explain my rooming situation, I’ll explain that in the fall 2010, the co-spring break coordinator of Habitat for Humanity was demoted. This student was “sharing the responsibilities” we have to plan the Habitat for Humanity alternative spring break trip. The reason she was let go is because she seldom came to meetings, had little club involvement, and provided poor results in each task completed.
As only a small concern to me, we shared a room together while in Trinidad. Like other seemingly inconvenient things in life, I found this aspect of the trip to be something that could give me room to grow.
During the week the group, called JELLO (meaning January Excursion for Living and Learning Outreach, or something along those lines) volunteered at the only shelter in Trinidad and Tobago for children with HIV/AIDS. It was a breathtaking experience. There were two highlights of helping at the shelter, among others. One was the opportunity to help a young man with his, as they would say, “maths homework.” The other was conversing with a young deaf woman. Since the shelter couldn’t afford for her or anyone else to attend school for it, no one there knew much sign language. Nevertheless, I was able to use my conversational ASL and entertain her, at the very least. Another repercussion of that is I have just a couple more things to add to my lengthy list of post-graduate plans;)
As for night life, on Monday the group had dinner at the Guesthouse we all stayed at. The guesthouse is on a hill that overlooks the city and is so elevated that it can be seen from any point in the city. On Tuesday, the group went to a concert of a few big name artists from that country. Their music was a nice blend of reggae and calypso, so the group had a splendid time. The following night, Wednesday, allowed most of the group to go to a swanky club. A funny part about that experience is that even though college students were supposed to get in free that night, the woman at the door made everyone from Trinity pay full cost. Apparently she didn’t understand that an ID card showing “college,” means the student is in university, even though the name of the institution cannot be referred to as “university.”
Since Trinity College is a partnered closely with the University of the West Indies, there are a few people in the city (Arima to be exact) who help Trinity students that are studying abroad here. So on Thursday night, JELLO had yet another delicious dinner of roti (flatbread) and channa (chick peas) at one of the person’s home. I really will miss the food. As a side note, I am going to NYC this weekend to see Ashina while she is there for a week off from nannying in Seattle. One of my aspirations while there is to get some really delicious ethnic food; something I can eat with my hands and preferably in a restaurant stuffed with cushions.
Finally, on Friday night I went down the hill from the guesthouse to watch a local steel pan group, Exodus, practice for the upcoming Carnival- which consumes the country year-round. Overall, the trip was excellent. Though on Monday JELLO was very concerned because we essentially had nothing to help with from 11am to 3pm, during the following days things improved. Also, on Tuesday night I had a short, public, and heated confrontation with my roommate of the week. It was because she and a couple others were being far too loud late at night while other guests were sleeping. But as I predicted, that experience taught me to maintain composure and give others respect no matter their behavior.
My goodness, life is so blessed! And the week only got better! My birthday on Tuesday was excellent, and it has been surrounded by unrelated ego boosts. For instance, I found out that the graduate assistant position for the Community Service Office at Trinity College is available to me, but in the process the woman currently in the position told me something nice. She says that sometimes the (easily overwhelmed) Director will sometimes be having a conversation with me that she overhears. According to her, he and I converse as if we are in different worlds; he being Mr. Scrooge while I am off on a tropical island;)
Also, yesterday I interviewed at the West Hartford (different city than Hartford) Housing Authority. The woman who interviewed me was quite literally in love with me. She went on and on about how impressive my resume is, how proud my parents must be, and what good energy I have. Now I am just afraid I won’t be able to meet her high expectations for me!
I love you dearly, and I appreciate you caring about all these juicy details of my life.
Within the week I expect to post on Facebook the few photos and one video (of steel pan) I caught while in Trinidad and Tobago (with my new camera I got for my birthday!)