I’m just about to start my third week of teaching English in Bulgaria as a Fulbright ETA (English Teaching Assistant). And although I’ve been in-country for 5 weeks, I’ve only been teaching for 3. This post is WAY overdue, but I’ll do my very best to catch you up on all of the things.
2 Weeks in Sofia
My ETA journey began with a 10-day orientation in Sofia. I arrived a few days early to get settled and do a few touristy things with one of my good friends from the UK (post coming soon). It wasn’t long, however before the 30+ other ETAs and researchers arrived, and orientation was in full swing!
Our typical day lasted from 9am-6:30pm and included a mixture of language and culture classes, informational lectures, and several useful teacher-training sessions. Complete brain drain, but worth it!
In addition to our classes, the Fulbright Commission and America for Bulgaria Foundation organized several activities to help us feel welcome and introduce us to Bulgarian Culture. We visited the Rila Monastery, partook in a traditional Bulgarian dinner (including shows of traditional music and dance (including a fire dance), and 2 different receptions – my favorite being at Muzeiko, the first children’s museum in Bulgaria.
On the last couple days of orientation, we were introduced to our mentor teachers, who would be guiding us to our respective cities and helping us get acclimated. I was finally introduced to the amazing Dimi – she’s warm, kind, and an absolute joy to be around. I’m really looking forward to getting to know her and learn from her over the next 9 months.
Off to Plovdiv
Before we knew it, it was time to leave Sofia and head to our new homes. Throughout the entire orientation, I kept hearing how wonderful Plovdiv was and how much I would enjoy living there. I was really excited to get there, get into my apartment, and get started at my school.
I found my apartment to be quite sizable, especially considering the size of my place in Korea. It only took a few shopping trips to get everything I needed to feel quite at home for the next year.
My first night in my new home was made even better by the wonderful food my mentor teacher’s family (mom and daughter) made for me – Banitsa (pastry with amazing Bulgarian cheese), potatoes with sweet corn and cheese, lutenitsa (tomato/eggplant sauce – TO DIE FOR), and a lovely cake.
My first day at school was a whirlwind of pomp and circumstance. It was a big ceremony, full of speeches, dances, and music – a fantastic way to kick off the school year.
I spent my first actual week of classes getting to know my students, sharing a bit about myself, and finding out what topics the students wanted to chat about in our speaking classes. I found my students to be very high level (though a bit shy), fascinated with Korean and USA culture, and interested in a wide variety of topics. I even found a few students in each class who were into Alt-rock and metal – a breath of fresh air compared to the onslaught of KPop I endured over the last few years. I really like my students and can’t wait to get to know them more over the next 9 months.
pLOVEdiv is great, though I really haven’t explored nearly enough of it yet. But, in the 3 weeks I’ve been here, they’ve had 2 festivals, I’ve managed to make a few friends, saw a traditional dance concert, and even watched a horse jumping competition on the outskirts of town. The food deserves a post of its own….. Needless to say, I’m absolutely loving my experience so far. I am also one of the lucky few Fulbrighters who happen to have another ETA in their city, and I’m super thankful to have the amazing Anna here. She’s been kind enough to show me around, introduce me to some of her friends, and get me addicted to King’s cookies – so dangerous 🙂 Thank you loads Anna, you’ve really helped me feel welcome here!
My goal is to post every month about my Fulbright ETA experience here in Bulgaria. It’s already been a wild ride so far, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
This site (The Neverending Wanderlust) 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.