Dobur den! (Although it’s almost time for dobur vecher.) I just finished my last final for my semester in Bulgaria!! (If you need to know what a ballad stanza or heroic quatrain is, or trochaic tetrameter, or–the question of questions–the difference between a symbol and a metaphor, and how they relate to myth and allegory, hurry and ask me in the next 5 minutes before I forget. Just kidding. Hopefully I’ll remember most of it for my British Romantic poets class next semester. Long side note over!) It’s a very good feeling, as always, to have the classes finished–although this semester flew much more quickly than most, academically. I learned valuable things in Bulgarian, fiction, and poetry. It was strange, walking back from the AUBG main building, to think it might be the last time I walk there. I have spent so much time in that building. On its couches, in its computer labs and classrooms, in the canteen (why do all of these start with C? Never noticed that before). And now I’m getting nostalgic. Oops. But I (and you, sorry) might as well accept it, because hey, this is my last blog in Bulgaria. I’m gonna be nostalgic.
Over the weekend I started the goodbyes. Thursday night I went to dinner with the wonderful, friendly writing tutors. I’ll miss that group. Friday night I went to a cozy Bulgarian mehana with my language class; Saturday, I went to a pizza/movie night with my church group and walked around and took lots of pictures of Blago with its Christmas lights, tree, and other decorations. Elizabeth and I ate some happy donuts at the really neat Christmas market that’s sprung up near the main square; if you remember, we had some of those at the Rila Monastery our first weekend here. It was her idea to have some on our last weekend in Blago as well. (Luckily, there were no bees fighting us for the donuts this time.) I seem to be obsessed with things going in full circle… It’s just funny how they really do, when you look hard; big things, small things. I’m a mixture of happy/sad, as always with this experience. I’m going to miss my fiction class a lot. I know it’s weird to say so, but I’ve learned so much in there and I’ve had fun doing it! It’s made me taking writing a lot more seriously. I’m going to miss my friends here and learning the Bulgarian language (along with becoming much better at non-verbal communication). I’ll miss Bulgarians, who are almost always kind and patient. I’ll miss Milka chocolate, banitsa, cirene (Bulgarian white cheese. So delicious), the espresso vending machines, and Bruno (the AUBG dog). I’ll miss every day being an adventure. I’ll miss traveling and seeing old things. I’ll miss having free time–may it rest in peace next semester, because I won’t be.
All right, to be fair and honest, there are things I won’t miss so much. I won’t miss living in Skaptopara 1; it’s a nice, comfortable residence hall and my roommates/suitemates are wonderful too, but it’s the freshman dorm and never sleeps, while I like sleep. Lots. So… adios, Skapto. I have mixed feelings about being able to drive again when I go home; it will be awesome, but I also hope I keep walking more because I’ve enjoyed that this semester. I won’t miss the apparently European hang-up about giving change and separate checks. (Shopkeepers, waitresses, etc. strongly prefer if you have exact change, or at least close change. You get the stink eye sometimes if you don’t.) I won’t miss going through a tangle of four converters and chargers to plug something in, or mentally converting between different currencies before I buy something (although granted, I’ll miss the dollar-to-lev exchange rate. Gotta be honest).
I can’t wait to see my family, have free drink refills, and watch holiday football with my dad and Gran. I can’t wait to be home and pretend my cat loves it when I hug him. I can’t wait for Christmas and New Year’s and seeing everyone at Marshall next semester.
So overall, there are so many things I’ll miss; dramatically fewer that I won’t; and a giant number of things I’m really excited about with going home and returning to Marshall. This has been a hiatus from… I was about to say real life, but my fourth-seminar professors would get on my case for saying that anything we live isn’t real life. (That was the philosophy seminar.) And it’s true, you know. The last few months have been very different from my life at home, and they’ve changed me, I think. Hopefully in positive ways. They’ve been every bit as real as any more “normal” timespan. It’s been a chance to grow up and have amazing opportunities to travel, meet people, and learn.
Today is my 21st birthday. (12/12/12! I’m more excited about the repetitive date than my actual birthday.) Good thing, since I’m bringing a bottle of Bulgarian wine home with me thank you to my family at home (and the friends on facebook) for all of the happy-birthdays. Really, it’s been a lovely few days. Yesterday it snowed so much that everyone was outside making snow angels and having snowball fights. Everything is white and Christmas-y. You didn’t know this (haha) but at one point in writing this blog I paused because the girls I’m living with surprised me with a birthday cake. It was delicious, but more than anything else it was nice. I was afraid being away from home on my birthday would be a little lonely, but it’s not. I’m going out to dinner with some friends tonight, and tomorrow I have lunch and dinner plans with great people and a 1 a.m. showing of The Hobbit part one. (I know, it’s kind of stupid to go since it’s 3 hours long and I’m leaving at 7:30 that morning. But I have to. I can’t explain it, I just have to.)
Lots of goodbyes, and not a little sadness. But overpoweringly this semester has just filled me with joy. There are many beautiful places and beautiful people in the world. I know this to be true on a wider scale than I did before I started traveling in June. I’m going back home on Friday with heavier suitcases, but I feel like my heart is lighter, freer. And let me tell you, I can’t wait to get to Yeager airport and see my family waiting. I can’t even imagine what that will feel like.