The beautiful game

Last Friday, I attended my first professional football match in Bulgaria (and my first in general since I was in middle school) — a UEFA European Championship 2012 qualifying match between England and Bulgaria at Vassil Levski Stadium downtown. Going into the match, England was in first place in Group G with a record of 3-2-0. Bulgaria was fourth in the group with a record of 1-2-2 (the other members of the qualifying group are Montenegro, Switzerland, and Wales).

It was cool to be inside Levski for the first time, and national anthems are always fun:

(The first time I watched the playback of this video, I could swear they were singing “Tessie” at first, probably due to the drunk Germans behind us who were belting tunelessly along)

Nice moment with the BG anthem and the patriotic crowd:

Long story short, Bulgaria was pretty overmatched. It was 3-0 England at the half, and you could tell they weren’t even really trying in the second half, just kind of kicking the ball around to each other and Bulgaria still couldn’t do much. Bulgaria only had a few shots on goal and a couple of corner kicks all night. Final score stayed 3-0, England.

However, here are the more important questions that emerged for me from this experience… Continue reading

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Kitty kindergarten

I love her dearly, but my Bulgarian cat is not very socially well-adjusted.

It doesn’t look this way on first glance. She is a very sweet and very friendly cat; after a little bit of initial shyness, she likes new people. She remembers frequent visitors and will come say hello and wind around your ankles. She purrs a lot.

However, she is like a four-year-old only child who needs to be sent off to kindergarten to play with other similar creatures and learn that she is not the center of the universe.

I guess it’s partly my fault, but I don’t know what else there is to be done. If there were a kitty kindergarten, I would send her to it. If I were not living in Bulgaria, I would get another cat purely to help socialize her. A Pumpkin to her Seabiscuit, if you will. But alas, neither of these seem to be viable options.

Continue reading

Fake it till you make it

I’m on fire today – TWO posts in one day!

Actually, it’s really just because I’m totally overheated from hauling myself back from the mall in the heat, and now can do nothing else but sit on the couch in front of the fan drinking water, so I figured I might as well air some more random thoughts out into cyberspace.

The mall also gave me a story to relay. I bought desperately needed new work shoes, went to Peek & Cloppenburg to get a work wardrobe refresher (despite my admiration of the more minimalist, simplistic European wardrobe, I really needed at least 1 new article to be able to throw into the mix this year if I was going to keep my sanity), Carrefour for printing paper/a new shower curtain/a hammer (“and these…are not the hammer!”), and stopped by the little Jeff/Vivacom store booth outside the Carrefour on my way out in order to put another 20 leva on my cell phone.

Well, usually this is very simple and goes off without a hitch, but for some reason the salesgirl who was working there today decided to actually BE a salesgirl (oddly enough, the saleswomen at the shoe place and P&C were also very friendly and helpful today) and launched into this long pitch about something I could sign up for something that wasn’t a contract but that gave me a better deal than just buying a 20 leva pre-paid voucher. She pulled out a price chart and explained to me the three price tiers of this program, and how you could purchase a within-network package and/or an all-networks package, the minutes, text messages, the whole deal…and all in Bulgarian.

Now, I’ve been having a little bit of re-entry rockiness with my Bulgarian. Much like I’m sure my kids will be with their English, I’m just a little slower on the uptake and it takes a hair longer for me to recall words and conjugations and to be able to string together sentences.

So this just proves to me how little language you actually need to know in order to be sold a cell phone contract (I know, it wasn’t a contract). It was impressive and a little frightening all at the same time. On the one hand, it’s encouraging to a language learner that a native speaker understands you even when your verb conjugations and adjective endings aren’t all correct. But on the other hand, what could I eventually be lured into purchasing or signing away based on understanding 20% of the verbal explanation/agreement?? 

Here, I understood the gist of what she was saying (or at least believed I did) and asked some questions (with likely very poor grammar) to clarify the essentials, and we had a good 10 minute transaction…which culminated in my not being able to purchase the better deal anyway because my Bulgarian ID card is currently expired and I haven’t gotten my new one yet, and I didn’t have my passport on me (not expecting to need it). So nice little salesgirl Yana had to just sell me the 20 leva voucher that I had asked for in the first place and, I suspect, possibly lost out on a bit of a commission, but she was super sweet about it. So if you need to get your cell phone options explained to you, I suggest you go see her.