Remember that time I said I would post a logistical update in the next week or so, then over two weeks passed and my friends angry-texted me that they had not seen it?
I have this over-glamorized idea of people reading the posts on this site in their favorite sweatpants with one hand curled around a huge mug of tea and the other gently patting the downward arrow to scroll — not hurried, not rushed, perfectly content as the words wear into them and the steam rolls out of the ceramic circle.
Well, this isn’t the post for that. If you want to know how my soul is, read about my coffee struggles (update — this morning apple juice landed inside of the cup instead of milk).
If you want the day-to-day and week-to-week logistics, down your cup of espresso, cram onto the heinous 6 train in NYC and try not to cramp your fingers from flicking your screen upward. I’m bringing out the lists because this girl has been living and teaching in Bulgaria for over a month and a half, so we will just call it almost two.
- SILISTRA, Bulgaria | Also known as home sweet home. I have fallen in love with the small town I get to live in. It is peaceful, restful and filled with incredible people.
- CINCINNATI, Ohio, USA | Also known as the sexiest European city? The best friend got married so this gal jumped across the pond for the greatest weekend ever complete with my favorite couple, loads of happy tears, parents AND friends at the SAME bar (something you don’t learn to celebrate until you’re older), beautiful worship, a slumber party, a whole lot of hugs, and this human being sewn into her bridesmaid dress (thanks, @brokenzipper and hairdressers that double as seamstresses).
- RUSE, Bulgaria | Also known as Little Vienna, for us Eastern Europeans (have I lived here long enough to say us yet?). Fulbright ETAs had BEST training (the Bulgarian English Speech and Debate Team) as we get the privilege of coaching teams and judging tournaments! BEST was a program created by Fulbright ETAs a few years ago and gives high school students the ability to present written and memorized speeches in English. I’ll talk about this in the future, so if you want to get familiar — hit me.
- RAZGRAD, Bulgaria | Also known as where I hid out when it rained for two days straight. Cue movies, snuggles, cooking (I always seem to befriend talented people), and catching up with my friend, Claire.
- SOFIA, Bulgaria | Also known as the capital of this beautiful nation. I am linking in the SEVEN RILA LAKES hike, though it is not technically in Sofia. A weekend that included most of my favorite things. There was a marathon (I recruited some friends to join me in the half), hiking, pottery-painting, coffee-shopping (is this a verb?), cooking, more slumber-partying, and all things that felt like home.
FIVE words yelled out by my students when I asked, What do you think of when you think of America?
- Apple (think more along the lines of the iPhone and less along the lines of the fruit)
FIVE things I’ve learned about teaching so far:
- There are hundreds of mini-successes and mini-failures each day.
- It is impossible to classify or encompass one day or one class or one student as good or bad — lessons and life are so much more detailed and circumstantial.
- You cannot look for validation in your students. Elaborating: As wonderful as they can be, they can also just be plain ole high schoolers some days! That is okay; they are allowed to be. I really think this goes for the rest of life too — your boss, kids, spouse, or best friends may not affirm you or realize all the small things you do to care for them: do them anyways, find your validation and worth in something more constant and consistent.
- Teaching is simultaneously incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. There are tons of old teachers I want to go back, apologize on behalf of my sass and hug.
- Laugh in class with your students. Every day. This is so important and has been a game-changer. Humor transcends language barriers.
FIVE songs I listen to every day at some point:
- So Will I / Bethel (think morning song or making coffee song)
- 5’3″ / Flannel Graph (think getting dressed song or brushing the mane song)
- Grace to Grace / Hillsong (think reading my Bible song or writing in journal song)
- Wine We Drink / Drew & Ellie Holcomb (think folding laundry or doing dishes song)
- Anything off of Nickelback’s Dark Horse album because you cannot teach an old dog new tricks and I will always run to their music (not including a link because I know half of you are closing your browsers right now)
FIVE questions I ask myself daily that I never did in America:
- How much yogurt is too much yogurt to eat?
- Why is it so expensive to fly to Moscow?
- Do I look too American today?
- Did I just tell them good night at 8 AM?
- Will I get stared at if I wear my puffy coat outside during autumn?
FIVE things that are guaranteed to stress me out each week:
- Ordering bus tickets in Bulgarian
- Knowing that if I don’t do my dishes, the dishes won’t get done *I’ll take the Downsides of Independence for 500, please*
- Running in public and seeing my students; my students telling me in class that they see me running in public
- The moment when you are checking out at the grocery store and trying to shove everything in a bag from heaviest-to-lightest because you don’t want to crush the beautiful баница (pronounced: bah-neet-sa also known as a delicious, flaky pastry) you just bought while simultaneously trying to understand what the cashier is saying as you translate each number in your mind so you know how much to pay and you are desperately trying to not get the reputation of being a slow American
- Pronouncing my students’ names correctly
FIVE things to look forward to each day:
- Beginning my day with coffee, ending it with tea
- Reading my Bible (trying to go cover-to-cover this year . . . still in the Old Testament, stay tuned)
- Reading for fun!!!! (yes, we should all do this every day)
- Sunsets over the Danube River (treat yourself to the eye candy below)
- Knowing a new day means new successes, new failures, and new mercies. And we will always rise and run to the new mercies. Always.
FIVE 3-word phrases I say and pray each day when I’m stressed, overwhelmed or unable to understand something (I usually say them out loud or under-my-breath, 10/10 recommend all of them):
- Thy Will, Dad
- I love you
- Help me please
- Your eyes, Jesus
- Sorry for cussing
Fun reminders from that annoying professor you appreciate but secretly detest: I have a Bulgarian cell phone number! I am happy to give it to you for FaceTime or iMessage purposes, just please stop texting the #513 digits and asking me why I don’t respond. Also, I am 7 hours ahead of my EST people and 8 hours ahead of you, CST people. We can coordinate still, I pinky promise.
*This site, E (ericaboden.wordpress.com), is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of its author and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.