Yesterday we began the process for getting our ‘lichna karta’—an ID card proving residency, which Maury’s husband said—practically—is just a Bulgarian hotel discount card; hotels, ski resorts, and much of the hospitality industry still have a two-tier pricing structure where foreign visitors pay 100% - 500% more for same service.
For lunch, we met an American guy who came to Bulgaria 12 years ago with the MBAEC and never left. He is now a managing partner of Balkans Accession Fund CV. A thoughtful and reserved man, we listen carefully to what he had to say about living and working in Bulgaria. He said that he had put off learning the language thinking he would only be here for ‘one more year’ on several occasions until 6 years ago!
Also on Wednesday, Maury (2004 Corp) and her husband Andrew had us over at their apartment for dinner. They have a nice, large apartment (although not as fancy as the ones VEGA found for us) that they had found on their own for 70% of the MBAEC housing allowance. However, they said they are not saving money during their assignment due to extensive travel throughout Balkans/Eastern Europe. They regaled us with all the wonderful experiences they have had over the last 12 months (they still 2 months to go.) Lots of valuable information.
Today we started language training with our tutor. Learned the alphabet and some simple words and phrases. We felt like kindergartners ‘learning our letters.’ Actually tomorrow our tutor is going to bring in some lined paper normally used by 1st graders; over half of the letters in the Cyrillic alphabet are new to us; just try writing a backward N and R—those are the easy ones! My name is written Джоел (literally d-zshu-o-el since they don’t have a ‘j’, but depending of pronunciation, there may need to be a ‘y’ in there as well) pop’s name is more straightforward: Арно (that’s right the P sounds like ‘r’ and the H like ‘n’ among other ‘false friends’—letters that look like ours but sound totally different.) Furthermore there are some difference between cases and print/script, for example the Д in upper-case script looks like our cursive D, but the lower case looks like g!
I spent this afternoon waiting for several hours in my apartment waiting for the cable guy to hook me up with Internet…but he never came. :-(
I don't know if I like this blog template; the one column layout seems to waste space. Makes it easier to read but you have to scroll around more. Let me know you thoughts; click on the pencil below to leave comments & discuss amongst yourselves.